The livelihoods of billions of farmers, pastoralists, and other rural communities are highly dependent on secure access to land resources. Land tenure security is also directly linked to the progressive realisation of several human rights, such as the right to food and adequate housing, and gender equality.
With nearly 90% of its population directly dependent on agriculture, Malawi is a case in point. High population growth rates, growing urbanisation and land concentration, and the promotion of investments in large-scale farming, all place additional pressure on scarce land resources. The impacts are particularly felt by female farmers, who often lack decision-making power over land and other economic assets.
The landmark Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the context of national food security provide a strong foundation for monitoring land governance. By placing an emphasis on multi-stakeholder platforms, and other inclusive processes to promote tenure rights, the voluntary guidelines echo the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, and other global instruments that seek to promote inclusive and sustainable development.
In collaboration with the German Institute for Human Rights, TMG Research developed a human rights-based land governance monitoring methodology that was piloted with partners in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire in 2017-2018. The monitoring approach entails collecting and disseminating data about contested land rights and rights violations. It complements existing land governance monitoring frameworks, such as sustainable development goal indicators on land tenure security, or the World Bank Land Governance Assessment Framework, by shedding light on the processes that lead to rights violations and the marginalisation of vulnerable communities.
The project applies the human rights-based land governance methodology in Malawi together with the Malawi Human Rights Commission and civil society organisations active in the land sector.