Reports & Research

Date of publication
October 2016
Geographical focus

“Water is the lifeblood of the people of Afghanistan, not just for living but also for the economy, which has traditionally been dominated by agriculture.” Nearly “80% of Afghanistan’s population derive their livelihood from the agriculture sector.” And, agriculture remains one of Afghanistan’s principal growth sectors.

But, decades of conflict combined with deteriorating infrastructures and prolonged droughts have hindered the agricultural sector’s ability to advance. Agricultural development remains largely dependent on weather conditions in any given year. The vast majority (82%) of water for agriculture is derived from surface water sources, which rise or fall depending on rainfall or snowmelt. The remaining 18% is from groundwater sources, which are experiencing rapidly decreasing water levels.

Constraints on the natural supply of water are exacerbated by structural inefficiencies that fail to adequately harness water sources and maximize utilization for agricultural output. Years of conflict have destroyed or disrupted maintenance of Afghanistan’s centuries-old irrigation systems, thereby reducing overall efficiency and hindering economic development of the agricultural sector.

The demand for water to support agricultural development often results in disputes over water rights, which are derived from guarantees secured by Afghanistan’s Constitution, statutory laws, Islamic law, and traditional customs and practices. The stakes involved in these disputes are high as many rural communities depend on reliable access to water sources to grow the crops and nourish the livestock on which their lives and livelihoods depend.

In Afghanistan, both formal and informal means are used to resolve these disputes. The Water Law enacted in 2009 anticipates a complex regulatory regime controlled by government ministries with strong stakeholder participation from local water users. This formal mechanism is supplemented by traditional customs and practices coalesced around the local water master’s or mirab’s longstanding authority and community respect in relation to water rights. During 2015, UNAMA Rule of Law began a field study to assess the effectiveness of these dispute resolution mechanisms. This report summarizes the results of this field study and provides practical recommendations to facilitate the resolution of disputes relating to access to water for agriculture in a timely manner and without escalation to violence. One key finding is that, notwithstanding the Water Law’s comprehensive regulatory scheme, water users continue to rely exclusively or, at least, predominately on local water masters to resolve disputes. There are several reasons for this divergence in the use of formal versus informal dispute resolution mechanisms:

  • The complex administrative structure anticipated by the Water Law is not yet fully implemented.

  • Substantial gaps remain in the Water Law’s scope, particularly given its incorporation of undefined customs and practices, multiple stages of review, and potentially conflicting provisions of the Civil Code relating to priority water uses.

  • The public continues to perceive—whether correctly or not—the judiciary as among the most corrupt institutions in Afghanistan.

Although most persons surveyed expressed satisfaction with informal means of dispute resolution, concerns remain about the lack of transparency and consistency in the rules or practices being applied. The lack of transparency and absence of established practices governing customary water rights renders informal dispute mechanisms vulnerable to external influences and pressures. These concerns are particularly relevant to disenfranchised groups such as women and children whose voices often are not heard in Afghanistan’s traditionally male-dominated society.

Date of publication
October 2016
Geographical focus

Esse relatório apresenta as conclusões da análise custo-benefício para garantir a proteção das áreas florestais
indígenas na bacia amazônica da Bolívia, Brasil e Colômbia. Esses países foram selecionados principalmente
porque incluem uma significativa porção da bacia da Floresta Amazônica e seus governos reconhecem
formalmente várias terras indígenas. A pesquisa tem por base o documento de trabalho recentemente publicado
pelo WRI, Os custos e benefícios econômicos da proteção da posse de comunidade florestal: Evidências do Brasil
e da Guatemala. A pesquisa provê análise comparativa original sobre as taxas de desmatamento, incorpora o
sequestro de carbono e uma gama de outros serviços ecossistêmicos na análise de custo-benefício, e oferece
uma série de recomendações de políticas e programas para as finanças e planejamento de utilização de terras
para funcionários ministeriais e seus parceiros.
A análise comparativa mostra que no período de 12 anos, entre 2000 e 2012, as taxas anuais de desmatamento
dentro de áreas florestais indígenas de posse segura foram significantemente mais baixas que aquelas fora, na
Bolívia (2,8 vezes menor), Brasil (2,5 vezes menor) e Colômbia (2 vezes menor). A análise de custo-benefício
mostra que proteger a posse das áreas indígenas é um investimento de baixo custo com alto benefícios. Os
benefícios econômicos estimados em um período de 20 anos são: US$ 54 a 119 bilhões para a Bolívia; US$ 523
a 1.165 bilhões para o Brasil; e US$ 123 a 277 bilhões para a Colômbia. Os custos chegam ao máximo de 1%
dos benefícios totais. De uma perspectiva financeira, investir na proteção da posse de áreas florestais indígenas
é também uma medida eficiente para a mitigação da mudança climática, quando comparada com outras medidas
de captura e armazenamento de carbono. Os custos de proteção de posse são de 5 a 29 vezes menores que os
custos estimados de usinas de energia a carvão, e de 7 a 42 vezes menores que as usinas de energia a gás.
Esses resultados constroem um caso econômico sólido para governos, agências financiadoras de mudanças
climáticas e outros parceiros, para que invistam na segurança de posse de áreas florestais indígenas na América
Latina e, mais amplamente, nos direitos comunitários de terras no mundo todo. As recomendações incluem:
estabelecer leis que protejam os direitos comunitários nas terras; remover obstáculos administrativos e outros
que inibam o registro e o reconhecimento formal das terras comunitárias; fazer da segurança de posse das
áreas florestais comunitárias uma estratégia central para a mitigação da mudança climática; e utilizar o clima
internacional e fundos de desenvolvimento para ajudar a documentar e proteger os direitos comunitários nas
terras. Proteger a posse de áreas florestais indígenas e de comunidades é uma solução de baixo custo,
que pode ajudar governos a atingirem seus objetivos climáticos em suas Contribuições Determinadas
Nacionalmente (CDNs).

Date of publication
October 2016

The International Land Coalition (ILC) commissioned a series of studies to improve understanding of the barriers that prevent women from achieving tenure security, with a particular focus on inheritance laws in Muslim societies and the practices that influence women’s land rights. The studies analysed inheritance laws and their impacts on rural women in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Senegal, Togo, and Mali. The studies focused on Muslim societies, but also looked at how these differed from, mirrored, or influenced the inheritance practices of non-Muslim groups in the same countries. The studies showed that women continue to be systematically denied their rights to inheritance, especially in rural areas. Inheritance practices are deeply embedded in local culture and tradition and, even though civil and religious laws exist that protect women’s inheritance, customary laws are found to prevail, which largely exclude women from property ownership and inheritance. Disinheritance undermines women’s economic security and independence and reinforces gender inequality.

Date of publication
October 2016
Geographical focus

Evidence updates, produced by LEGEND’s Core Land Support Team, provide a series of short briefs, summarising emerging bodies of evidence from different sources on key themes related to land governance or particular country issues. They offer technical advisers, policy-makers and researchers a way of keeping abreast of research to provide a source of quick evidence-based pointers on what to do and what to avoid in land-related policy and programming. Source material comes principally from peer-reviewed publications, in line with DFID Guidelines, offering evidence that is large in scale, consistent and contextually relevant. All Evidence Updates are peer-reviewed.

This Evidence update builds on and nuances the conclusions drawn in DFID’s Topic Guide on Women’s Empowerment in a Changing Agricultural and Rural Context (Murray, 2015). It draws on academic research on gender, land and agriculture since 2014, as well as on relevant reports and papers from international organisations and think tanks working on these issues. It also comments on how recent research strengthens, contradicts or nuances existing positions on the relationship between strengthening land tenure security and women’s empowerment. Recommendations for various stakeholder groups are provided in the report, along with suggestions on scaling /replicating what has been seen to work.

Date of publication
October 2016
Geographical focus

Evidence updates, produced by LEGEND’s Core Land Support Team, provide a series of short briefs, summarising emerging bodies of evidence from different sources on key themes related to land governance or particular country issues. They offer technical advisers, policy-makers and researchers a way of keeping abreast of research to provide a source of quick evidence-based pointers on what to do and what to avoid in land-related policy and programming. Source material comes principally from peer-reviewed publications, in line with DFID Guidelines, offering evidence that is large in scale, consistent and contextually relevant. All Evidence Updates are peer-reviewed.

This Evidence update draws primarily on evidence presented in Food Policy (vil. 48) based on farm surveys, satellite image analysis and economic modelling, and on earlier economic analysis of agricultural development processes.


Date of publication
October 2015
Geographical focus

Land tenure is one of the great challenges Habitat for Humanity faces in helping families access decent housing. Countless families around the world lack rights to the land on which they live. Just imagine the stress of knowing that any day you might be forced to move because someone else claims ownership of the place you call home.

The security of property rights is a crosscutting issue that impacts all areas of Habitat’s work. Whether addressing the needs of displaced people as a result of disaster or conflict, providing water and sanitation, working in informal settlements, or facilitating access to microfinance for incremental housing, Habitat’s work to provide decent shelter and create sustainable, stable, resilient communities can occur only if community residents have legal control of the land on which they live.

For that rerason, Habitat cares deeply about ensuring access to secure property rights for everyone, especially women, who are disproportionately affected by lack of secure tenure. We have seen how impactful women are on the lives of their children and communities, and we have witnessed firsthand how ensuring secure property rights for women reverberates through communities to provide far-reaching benefits.

Habitat is working side by side with women to increase their property rights in a number of ways, including offering microloans and education on land and inheritance rights. Advocacy concerning land tenure is a huge focus in our work around the world. From community decision-making bodies to national governments and international organizations, Habitat is working at all levels to change policies and systems. In early 2016, we will launch Solid Ground, a global advocacy campaign to increase access to land for shelter. A key component of the campaign includes secure property rights for women.

In this report, we examine how secure tenure impacts women, specifically in reference to housing. We identify solutions and best practices and provide recommendations for advocates and policymakers alike.

Date of publication
October 2016
Geographical focus

El Acuerdo de París, adoptado en diciembre de 2015, representa un nuevo principio en el esfuerzo mundial por estabilizar el clima antes de que sea demasiado tarde. En él se reconoce la importancia de la seguridad alimentaria en la respuesta internacional al cambio climático, como queda reflejado en el hecho de que muchos países sitúen en un lugar destacado el sector de la agricultura en sus contribuciones previstas para la adaptación y la mitigación. Para ayudar a poner en práctica tales planes, en este informe se señalan las estrategias, las oportunidades de financiación y las necesidades de datos e información correspondientes. También se describen las políticas y las instituciones transformadoras que pueden superar los obstáculos para su realización.

Date of publication
September 2016
Geographical focus


Le droit à l´alimentation est le droit de chaque homme, chaque femme et chaque enfant à accéder dans la dignité à une nourriture suffisante et de qualité adéquate, en produisant ou en achetant des aliments. L’accès équitable des femmes aux facteurs de production, notamment à la terre, est fondamental et déterminant pour concrétiser ce droit en leur permettant de produire les aliments nécessaires à la consommation de la famille. En outre, pour acheter de la nourriture, les femmes doivent avoir des revenus adéquats (accès à un travail décent et à un salaire digne ou à un système de protection sociale) et des conditions d’accès au marché satisfaisantes (en termes de temps, de transport et d’autonomie). Elles doivent aussi avoir une alimentation adaptée à leurs conditions physiques et à leurs besoins physiologiques.

Date of publication
July 2014
Geographical focus

With deforestation and other land uses accounting for 11 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions, the international community agrees on the need to address deforestation as an important component of climate change. Community forests represent a vital opportunity to curbing climate change that has been undervalued. Today communities have legal or official rights to at least 513 million hectares of forests, only about one eighth of the world’s total, comprising 37.7 billion tonnes of carbon. This constitutes a significant volume of global forests in which the legal recognition and government protection of community forest rights can help maintain and protect healthy forests.

Based on studies of legally-recognized community forests in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Peru, and Tanzania, Securing Rights, Combating Climate Change finds that deforestation rates inside community forests with strong legal recognition and government protection are dramatically lower than in forests outside those areas.

Brazil’s indigenous territories are a model of success, where legal recognition and government protection have helped indigenous communities resist deforestation pressures and maintain healthy forests: rates of deforestation were 11 times lower in community forests with strong legal recognition and government protection than in other areas of the Brazilian Amazon.

The report also finds that, in addition to legal recognition, governments should enforce the rights of forest communities over their land and prevent encroachments from illegal settlers and loggers. Further, governments should refrain from undermining community forest rights by allocating mining, gas, and oil concessions over community forests.. Without active protection, communities face the loss of the forests that they depend on for their livelihoods, food, and culture.

Strengthening the rights of forest communities presents a vital tool for decreasing CO2 emissions and tackling climate change. We hope that this report will help climate policymakers to take advantage of this tool for addressing climate change that will also secure the livelihoods and sustainable development of people around the world.

Date of publication
August 2016
Geographical focus

‘Our land is sacred, our land is our life, our land is not for sale. God forbid that we betray this trust and turn Africa land into commodity for sale’[1]. These words are the opening commitment statement of over 150 participants at a continental conference against land grabbing in Africa in November 2015 in Kenya. The Ghanaian participants at the Conference, comprising National Catholic Secretariat and the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD), agreed to work together to explore ways of raising the issue of land grab as a national issue. The purpose was also to enhance our understanding of what could be done to address the issue. We especially sought to broaden public, including community members’, awareness about the canker of land grabbing so that they are able to take actions directly when the threat occurs. This research work is expected to be catalytic towards the development of a long term programme of work to address the problem of land grab in Ghana. It is our hope that this work would help mobilize apprehension, energies and resources needed to be able to confront this emerging threat to rural livelihoods.

The opening chapter reveals how inadequate land management and utilization policy coupled with previous economic development programmes, largely influenced by external forces, has created an environment for land grabbing in Ghana. Another more recent catalyst to this evil has been urbanization. The chapter has noted that limited consultation with farmers, communities and households whose livelihoods depend on land, in very important decisions is a serious aberration with consequences for the violation of fundamental human rights.

Chapter two uses Pope Francis’ encyclical – Laudato Si on the Care of Our Common Home and his other teachings to emphasize the need for dialogue on how we are shaping the future of our planet. ‘What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?’ (LS160). The chapter suggests that the Church has critical role to play by first taking a hard look at itself to see where it may likely be part of the problem. Secondly, by taking inspiration from Pope Francis to do advocacy on the care of the earth. A collaborative approach between church and state is proposed to address the problem.

In chapter three, the research report presents three case studies which demonstrates how land grab is a real threat to lives and livelihoods of especially those already at the margins of society and whose only coping mechanism is through their God-given resource of land. The narrations of the cases of Okumaning, Babator and Brewaniase, based on information gathered from field interviews, are chilling and sometimes heart-breaking from the level of atrocities and flagrant disregard to people’s well-being. At first hand, based on promises and plans often outlined, they are paved with good intentions but actual results are disappointing to the people. Some of the research questions for this survey and the definitions of land grab cases are recommended for use when sensitising communities and for further investigations on the subject matter.

Chapter four helps us to understand the dynamics of land grabbing which are tactfully driven and controlled by the foreign investors with their ability to exploit loopholes in national legal frameworks and the ignorance of communities. The potential for corruption, manipulation, threats and intimidation that pave the way for land deals done in surreptitious circumstances, have been explained in this chapter. The chapter provides lessons for the Church in its attempt to tackle this menace in Ghana; from the adage ‘Forewarned is forearmed’. The experience of the Centre for Indigenous Knowledge and Organizational Development (CIKOD) in applying the Community Bio cultural Protocol (BCP) in a small community in the Upper West Region has helped the people to ward-off the ills of land grab for mining exploration.

The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as the global new framework for development has thought us profound lessons about how development ought to be done and the need for a change in mind-set. Our proposals for policy consideration and recommendations, in chapter five, begin on the premise of Pope Francis’ encyclical – Laudato Si On the Care for our Common Home. Land grab can have dire and negative implications to the attainment of some critical sustainable development goals in Ghana. This last chapter recognizes that there already exist some policy guidelines and on-going advocacy efforts of other civil society organizations on land grab and or its related issues. We see Laudato Si as a framework for collective and collaborative response of church, state, society and corporate bodies to build consensus in addressing the problem.


This work is the result of both joint and collaborative effort for which gratitude is owed to many organizations and individuals. The resources that supported the work came from the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC), DKA Austria, Misereor- Germany and the Africa Faith Justice Network. The organizations are duly acknowledged also at the back-cover of this report. Besides, making financial resources and availing staff time, the Bishops’ Conference of Ghana also prioritized the need for this work during their Plenary Assembly in May, 2016 which helped to set a strong agenda for this work beyond this research.

[1] SECAM Conference on Land Grabbing and just Governance in Africa, November 22 – 26, 2015 commitment to act against land grabbing and to support local communities.


Subscribe to RSS - Reports & Research