“Fair” community benefits and equitable land governance
During the last two decades, large-scale acquisition of agricultural and forest land, especially in rapidly developing and emerging economies, has become a key development challenge. While land is a key resource for development projects, there is a growing concern that people’s connection to their lands and livelihoods is being undermined and they are not being fairly compensated.
In several regions, women are resisting displacement and making claims to land through collective and individual protests. They are building public opinion against the arrangements in land tenure that differ between women and men, and questioning the institutions, social norms, and legal rules that shut most rural women out of land control, ownership, and any framework for compensation when lands are acquired.
Moreover, violent resistance against displacement in several regions is often met with state repression, leading to more violence, stalled projects, and protracted cycles of unresolved conflicts. In addition, in several regions, disputes over the division of resources are emerging between federal and provincial authorities. The lack of norms on distribution of gains and what constitutes a “fair” compensation for displacement only makes matters more contentious.
This project aims to provide context-specific, evidence-based understanding of the complex issue of land governance and compensation in land acquisition projects. It will examine the complex web of gender-differentiated costs to the communities and to the projects, aiming to strengthen policies for better acquisition and build capacities of women and men for negotiating more equitable and fair solutions.
Through a field-based study in Cambodia, India, and Indonesia, this project will engage with local communities and local governments to define entitlements for compensation and fair compensation models and to strengthen governance to develop models of just and fair compensation for women and men. At the same time, through an in-depth study of best practices in different countries, the project will also develop workable models for resource sharing between the central and provincial governments.
The project will be implemented by the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge, UK, in collaboration with the Community Legal Education Center, Cambodia; Ekta Parishad, India; and HuMa Community and Ecological Based Society for Law Reform, Indonesia. The research will build on mixed methods, relying on desk research and field experiences to arrive at policy-oriented understanding on just and fair compensation for large-scale land acquisition.