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ZOA supports Burundi & Uganda in securing land rights for displaced individuals through expertise in land registration


ZOA supports Burundi & Uganda in securing land rights for displaced individuals through expertise in land registration


We pledge to dedicate our technical expertise and ongoing initiatives to a) secure land rights for returning refugees and their communities of return, and b) to improving access to land for refugees and host communities. With increased funding, we have the potential to broaden our reach, thus allowing us to achieve quantifiable outcomes.

Specifically, we pledge:

To utilize our experience and technical expertise to address land conflicts, to improve land administration and access to land for the most vulnerable, including advocating for the land rights of returning refugees (repatriates), formalizing land tenancy agreements between refugees and host communities, and translate it into tangible, measurable results.

At present, ZOA is actively involved in two projects in Burundi and Uganda that have already positively affected over 10.000 returnees, refugees and (host) community members. Together with our previous interventions, these projects have yielded in the registration and certification of 180.000 land plots of which over 70% include women’s land rights, and the resolution of 25.000 conflicts over land. These interventions have the potential for substantial growth with additional financial support, particularly in the context of repatriation efforts.

The focus in Burundi is on securing land rights for returnees and all community members as we aim to cover all land plots in all villages without differentiating between ownership of returnees or members of the communities of return. District administrations are technically and financially supported to operationalize their land registration service called SFC (Service Foncier Communal) and to apply the systematic LTR approach in all villages of the targeted districts (Opération Groupée de Reconnaissance-OGR). Specific improvements that ZOA introduced in its approach is the extensive awareness-raising through different channels, the great focus on building local capacities for land conflict mediation, and the protection of women’s land rights.

In the first pilot only 4% of women’s rights to land were registered on land certificates while with ZOA’s approach, on more than 70% of the land certificates women’s land rights are mentioned.  The systematic OGR approach makes land registration and certification available for the most vulnerable and poor while the individual ‘on demand’ approach (Opération Isolée de Reconnaissance – OIR) is mainly serving the more well-off landowners. ZOA has contributed to Burundi’s agenda of decentralized land governance and administration through the coverage of all the districts of Makamba Province with this systematic land tenure registration, which is unique in Burundi.

In Uganda, ZOA uses fit-for-purpose land administration for customary land tenure registration for host communities, and the formalization of land tenancy arrangements between host communities and refugees. This approach also favors the most vulnerable to be able to secure their rights to land.  With increased funding, ZOA envisions expanding our initiatives significantly. This expansion will not only enable an estimated 50.000 additional beneficiaries among existing refugee populations and host communities to be reached in Uganda, but also to focus on the unique land rights challenges faced by returning refugees in Burundi. This can result in a significant increase in our measurable impact. Not only will ZOA aim to accelerate our current land rights work but will also expand towards other populations and regions that stand to benefit from our unique approach. 

For Uganda the focus could be on the refugee hosting areas in the northwest of the country and for Burundi the focus will be on the border provinces with high numbers of returnees and related land conflicts. To increase impact, we aim to combine LTR, peacebuilding and agricultural development with a specific focus on promoting the rights and opportunities for persons with specific needs or vulnerabilities.

Our commitment to achieving quantifiable results remains paramount, while safeguarding the quality and inclusiveness of our approach. Through our land rights work in refugee and returnee foundation is laid for longer term impact of peace and stability, improved and more sustainable land use planning, and climate-smart investments in agricultural land.  ZOA aims for an integrative approach: combining land tenure registration with support for climate smart agricultural development, and sustainable land use planning. In addition to securing land tenure rights for vulnerable groups, ZOA supports them to valorize the land for improved natural resource management, food security and livelihoods.

In summary, the ZOA land rights pledge encompasses optimizing our existing technical resources and ongoing projects while seeking additional funding to amplify our efforts in the field of land rights. We firmly believe that with the necessary financial support, ZOA can substantially enhance our contributions to securing access to land, leading to tangible, measurable improvements in the lives of returnees, refugees and (host) communities.

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