Protecting Rights to Land and Water

Local Women in Community Forest in Kachin state

Land rights are central to the lives of tens of millions of rural people in Myanmar. While land is a critical asset for many in the country, peoples’ rights to land are often weak or not recognised: land grabs are common, particularly with investment on the rise, many cannot easily register their land legally, and women face particular difficulties in claiming their land rights. Oxfam is working with Metta   Development Foundation, and local civil society organisations such as Kachin Conservation Working Group and Alin Bannmaw Local Development Foundation, to help protect the land rights of women, men and communities in uplands Kachin and Shan. We are also working with Myanmar organisations at the national level to strengthen the policies and laws that help secure peoples’ rights over the long term.

Like land, access to water is a critical issue for economic development in Myanmar. Major rivers such as the Salween and the Ayeyarwaddy run through the heart of the country, supporting thousands of communities that depend on them for their water and livelihoods. Oxfam is working with civil society, the private sector and government partners to strengthen the role of communities in the governance of river water resources, and through partners like KESAN, Kalyana Metta Foundation and International Rivers, to build the capacity of communities to engage with decision makers on the development of hydropower projects. Hydropower projects often overlook the impacts they will have on communities, so Oxfam is working with local organisations to ensure developers, Government and Ethnic Administrations understand and address their impacts fully.