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New Report: Devolved federal governance crucial to protect sustainable customary land tenure systems in Burma.


New Report: Devolved federal governance crucial to protect sustainable customary land tenure systems in Burma.

07 05 2016 Land right‘Our Customary Lands,’ a report launched today by the Ethnic Community Development Forum “ECDF”, is calling on the government to protect and recognize ethnic customary land management systems through a new federal constitution and decentralized legal framework.

The report provides unique insight into the intricate structuring of seven customary land management systems in six ethnic states, which have enabled communities to protect and sustain local livelihoods and resources for generations.

‘Local communities have their own detailed rules and regulations that promote self-reliant livelihoods and provide stronger environmental protection than the national laws,’ says Kamoon, the lead researcher from ECDF. ‘Decision-making on all major issues related to land is made by consensus in village meetings.’

Investment and premature integration into the centralized national system are threatening existing ethnic land tenure systems, especially following the signing of bilateral ceasefires between ethnic armed groups and the government over the past five years. The government has been promoting individual land titling, which is undermining traditional communal systems.

‘My village has managed itself as a strong community for ten generations,’ says Paw Moe from Daw Tarklare village in Karenni State. ‘Our lands are communally managed, to protect our farms, forests and water. Now the government is trying to impose individual land titles, so we are worried that businessmen will come in and try to buy lands and divide our community.’

Drawing on international experiences, the report gives practical suggestions about how customary land systems could be integrated with a future national land governance system. It also calls on the government to impose a moratorium on acquisition of customary lands until peace accords, federal constitutional amendments and new land legislation have been formalized.

The report is the result of a two-year joint effort between ECDF and communities practicing these systems in six ethnic states. Household surveys were carried out with over 1,200 families on customary land management systems in over 26 townships.

The ECDF, set up in 2004, is a coalition of seven community development organizations working in Burma’s ethnic states.

Contact: Spokespersons

Mi Ka Moon               09401601822 (English, Burmese, and Mon)
Paw Moe                   09252975309 (Karenni and Burmese)
U Saung Pawng        09440979862 (Kachin and Burmese)
Sai Khur Hseng        09264362973 (English, Burmese, Shan and Thai)

PDF files: Engligh| Burmese

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See report detail and video documentary at: