International Development Law Organization

Overcoming Land Disputes and Strengthening Women's Customary Rights

​In June 2015, IDLO commenced the project: Researching the Impact of Land Tenure Registration on Land Disputes and Women’s Land Rights in Burundi.

Land Tenure Registration (LTR) programs involve issuing proof of ownership to holders of land rights to increase their legal certainty. Such programs are undertaken for a variety of reasons. While much is known about the impact of LTR on factors like access to credit and agricultural output, there is a gap in knowledge of its impact on land disputes, particularly in post-conflict settings.

In 2014, the non-governmental organization Stichting ZOA, with the support of the Government of the Netherlands, began a program in the south of Burundi, in the province of Makamba - an area where land conflict is exacerbated by the ongoing mass return of refugees. The three year ZOA program is focused on two municipalities within Burundi, encompassing an estimated 22,000 households, or approximately 100,000 inhabitants. It aims to address a substantial number of land disputes in the area using alternative dispute resolution processes. Results are then recorded in the communal land registries and title certificates are issued.

Within this larger program, IDLO has been provided a sub-grant to research two components of the program: (1) the impact of ZOA's community-based LTR processes on land dispute levels; and (2) ways to safeguard and strengthen women's customary rights to land in the LTR process. This research program concludes in November, 2016.

Component 1: Assessing the impact of LTR on Land Disputes

IDLO is using mix method research to assess the impact of LTR on land disputes. At the core of the research is a large in-depth survey at the household level that will be repeated five times throughout the Project. This will be triangulated with a series of focus group discussions with members of the population and an analysis of case files concerning land disputes at the court of first instance (Tribunal de Résidence); case files concerning violent forms of crime at intermediate court level (Tribunal de Grande Instance); and the records of property deeds in the registries of the municipal land bureau (Service Foncier Communale).