Briefing note

Landless and displaced - The struggle for housing, land and property rights in eastern DR Congo

Published 04. Dec 2023
Access to land remains at the centre of the humanitarian crisis in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

It is a catalyser of conflict, it impacts both displaced and host communities, and it is an essential component towards achieving durable solutions for conflict-affected populations. In 2022, land disputes were the second major reason for population displacement in DRC, accounting for over half of all protection incidents in North Kivu province alone.

Consideration of housing, land, and property rights (HLP) issues is often understood as an area of work that is primarily relevant for early recovery and durable solutions. However, HLP issues have a cross-cutting impact on conflict-affected communities in emergencies as well as in development contexts. This is the case within the protection cluster, but also for interventions that touch upon WASH, shelter, education and other sectors of the humanitarian response.

When intervening in any area, humanitarian actors must be able to both have access and have the capacity to identify and connect with local and customary authorities, representatives of community structures, and private concession landowners. This is especially relevant as failure to include HLP due diligence at the onset of a response could result in the eviction and displacement of conflict-affected populations and the loss of shelters, schools and other infrastructure.

To operationalise HLP coordination and due diligence, humanitarian actors are currently facing both insufficient funding, having often to mostly rely on development donors, as well as insufficient processes and resources, which are critical to ensure the involvement of both local actors and other clusters.