Capacity Development Portal
Good Practices

Sustainable natural resources management

  1. Communication for Natural Resource Management and Rural Development
  2. Post-conflict access to land and land administration
  3. Decentralization of Rural Land Taxation
  4. Land Consolidation

Approaches to provide secure access to land to people displaced as a result of violent conflicts

What problem did it address, where?

Widespread violence over a period of years results in the massive displacement of much of the population. People become landless. Vulnerable groups almost invariably include women and children and may also include ethnic and political minorities. At the end of a conflict, access to land is required by people who were displaced. Many people try to get back their own land. When Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees return to their former homes and farms in the post-conflict environment, they often find that others have taken control of their landholdings, and conflicts arise as to who should have access to that land. There may be several competing, legitimate complaints to the same land as a result of successive waves of displacement. Many others may not be able to recover their lands and have to settle elsewhere. Problems arise when land used to resettle IDPs is assumed to be vacant, when in fact local communities consider that they have traditional rights to use that land. Settling IDPs on such lands sets them in conflict with the local residents.

The institutions for administrating access to land and other land tenure arrangements are often weakened or collapse during conflicts. Critical infrastructure, the legal system, records of rights to land, and technical and managerial expertise may be severely impacted during conflicts.


Working with governments to provide access to land and to reconstitute land tenure systems and their administration in order to address emergency humanitarian needs, and to lay the foundation for longer-term social and economic stability. FAO has been providing technical assistance to improving access to land in Angola by resolving conflicting claims for land arising from the settlement of IDPs. In Sudan, FAO assistance is addressing the land question in both the context of emergency and of sustainable development. Because normative materials on the treatment of access to land in post-violent conflicts are scarce, FAO has prepared guidelines for use when re-establishing land tenure and land administration systems in countries emerging from violent conflicts.

Where next?

  • The potential for replication is good in emergency settings globally although approaches have to be adapted for each country. Every situation is different, and FAO experiences elsewhere must be adapted for local conditions. As such, FAO's normative guidelines do not provide prescriptive answers to what must be done. Instead the guidelines give a framework of questions for which the people on the ground need to seek answers, and then take appropriate action.
  • Improvements in land tenure conditions in emergency settings can take a considerable time to become apparent. There are no simple and quick solutions; instead sustained assistance is required over a period of time. The end result of work over a number of years in countries such as Mozambique has been to consolidate the peace settlements.

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