Read caption Internally displaced (IDP) women discuss their issues with NRC staff member Nway Nway Ei at Li Suu IDP camp, Bhamo, Kachin State, Myanmar. Photo: Jose M Arraiza/NRC

Securing land rights for the displaced in Myanmar

Awici Charles Churchill|Published 27. Jun 2018
As a result of civil conflicts, large sections of the Kachin community in Myanmar have been displaced from their homes since 2011.

Most internally displaced people (IDPs) are not aware of their land rights, and the fear of losing their land is making it hard for them to settle in camps.

Before I attended this training, I did not know the process of securing land rights or the role I could play in it.
Daw Nwe Nwe

Even in displacement, farmers are learning new ways to practice agriculture and to overcome challenges to land conflicts in Kachin State of Myanmar. After attending a training organised by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in 2017 on housing, land and property rights, Daw Nwe Nwe decided that she wanted to create awareness among farmers on their land rights: “Without security of land tenure, farmers are unable to have secure livelihood,” she explains.

Daw Nwe founded a community based organisation that works with farmer groups to promote organic farming in Kachin State. “I now know that there are different processes to follow if one’s rights are violated,” she says.

Today, many internally displaced people commute between the camps and their unsafe original villages to check if their land is occupied or not. Many are afraid of confronting powerful people involved in land dealings, and there is minimal engagement between conflict-affected communities and other parties to land issues. Daw Nwe believes that if communities learn about their land rights, they will also be able to take actions towards securing their land.

I have gained the confidence I need to follow the procedure to reclaim and secure land on behalf of my community.
Daw Nwe Nwe

To improve knowledge and practice in land dispute resolution, we provide training on legal awareness around land laws and collaborative dispute resolution. Through our trainings we aim to help the displaced in Kachin to access their right to housing, land and property restitution and to encourage ordinary citizens to work with existing structures in the management of land conflicts in a fair, transparent and efficient manner.

Daw Nwe Nwe’s story is an example of how access to information can improve participation of conflict-affected communities in issues that affect them. In particular, being aware of land rights and how to resolve land disputes is a good step for communities to engage in to achieve long-term peace. “I have gained the confidence I need to follow the procedure to reclaim and secure land on behalf of my community,” Daw Nwe Nwe concludes.

 

For more information, read our report on promoting housing, land and property rights in the Myanmar peace process.