Land Rights

Tetra Tech has developed industry-leading expertise in addressing issues related to the ownership, distribution, and governance of rights to land and other natural resources through nearly two decades of work in developing countries.

Establishing secure rights to property and natural resources is a foundational requirement for solving some of the most complex development challenges, including increased agricultural production, economic growth, conflict resolution, and more equitable access for vulnerable populations in the face of a changing climate. Following foundational international guidelines, Tetra Tech leverages its core expertise to strengthen the security of tenure, not only to land but also to water, forests, grazing lands, and minerals and other natural resources.

Tetra Tech works with government agencies, civil society organizations, international donors, and community groups to address today’s most pressing resource tenure challenges. As a leading provider of technical services to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in land tenure and property rights reform, Tetra Tech is well-versed in addressing complex tenure issues through technical assistance, awareness raising, training, capacity building, and development of analytical tools and impact evaluation methodology.

Our Expertise in Land Rights

Establishing appropriate policy is a critical step in fostering secure land rights and sustainable management of natural resources. As one of USAID’s trusted partners for land and resource governance (LRG) Tetra Tech has implemented more than 100 land projects and activities in 50 countries, in both urban and rural settings. We collaborated with USAID to develop the Land Tenure and Property Rights (LTPR) Framework, the first versions of USAID’s land portal, LRG training courses, and impact evaluation tools. Together with leading land sector partners, we bring a proven capacity to absorb lessons learned and devise innovative developmental solutions. Learn more about our land policy and legal reform work under the Land Administration to Nurture Development in Ethiopia project.

Tetra Tech works at high levels of government to design policy and institutional frameworks for land administration in rural and urban areas. Working with central ministries, land agencies, local officials, and citizens groups, we facilitated the creation of new land authorities and new ways to recognize the rights of peoples displaced by war and weather events. Through technical assistance, we have drafted laws and implementing regulations, conducted systematic land regularization and registration, used appropriate technologies for land information data maintenance, promoted land restitution, raised public awareness of land rights, and installed mechanisms for land conflict mitigation and land use planning. Learn more about our land administration and capacity building work through the Colombia Land and Rural Development project.

Indigenous and other minority groups often assert long-held historical rights to land and other natural resources, yet these claims are often contested. Tetra Tech works with local communities and governments to identify ways to recognize the importance of traditional tenure systems in maintaining stability, while providing appropriate spatial solutions for documentation and endorsement of community boundaries, common property marine and forests, and individualized household plots. We integrate satellite imagery technology with new geospatial information system (GIS) technologies. Learn more about our work with open source data collection, mapping tools, and participatory rural engagement techniques through the Tenure and Global Climate Change (TGCC) program, the Côte d’Ivoire Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD II) project, and the Ethiopia Land Administration to Nurture Development project.

Tetra Tech works to transform mineral wealth into economic growth and development by improving policies and best practices for mineral resource rights allocation and management, especially among rural communities. Extraction of mineral resources often pits mining interests against local communities. In developing countries, where implementation of environmental and social safeguards are weak, artisanal and small-scale mining often leads to conflict and environmental damage.

Tetra Tech has extensive experience working with artisanal and small-scale miners in close collaboration with governments, which generally are unable to provide technical support to artisanal mining communities. Tetra Tech has worked for the past ten years with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in West and Central Africa to strengthen traceability around diamonds from conflict-ridden zones. Through the PRADD I and II projects in the Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Liberia, Tetra Tech not only helped strengthen the diamond chain of custody but also helped rural communities diversify away from dependence on non-renewable diamond deposits. Tetra Tech also helped launch the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) first traceability system for artisanal gold, resulting in the first-ever export of certified, conflict-free artisanal gold from the DRC.

Tetra Tech is at the forefront of efforts to formalize land rights, which stimulates economic growth. Secure rights in land and property allow farmers and entrepreneurs to allocate land and labor for best uses, while minimizing disputes over land ownership and enabling smooth land transfers. Climate smart agriculture may need only improved governance and informal rights, while high levels of fixed place investment (urban neighborhoods, capital intensive farming, horticulture) may require greater formality of tenure. Our work in Zambia (TGCC) and Côte d’Ivoire (PRADD II) illustrates our approaches and techniques for community land demarcation. Learn more about our work securing land tenure for economic growth in Colombia through the Land Rights and Development Program.

As a result of lack of clarity over ownership, disputes over natural resources can escalate into violent conflict, which is exacerbated by climatic factors like drought and desertification. This can lead to severe conflict and migration of people who are affected by resource degradation. Using participatory research methods combined with public dialogues around land use planning, our teams have worked with local communities and authorities to resolve deep-seated, historical conflicts in rural places. Learn more about our work in stability and dispute resolution through the Côte d’Ivoire PRADD II project.

Secure property rights enhance women’s and vulnerable peoples’ ability to provide food and money for their households, increase their powers of negotiation, and often lead to active civic engagement. Yet, only a small percentage of women own or have control over land and other natural resources. Despite the vulnerability of these populations, they often play a key role in defending the natural resources upon which they depend. Protecting the rights of indigenous communities is critical to building resilience against climate change or erratic weather. Tetra Tech works to help strengthen legal frameworks to promote inclusivity, address cultural biases to broaden participation, and promote representation of women and vulnerable groups in governance structures. Learn more about our work empowering women and other vulnerable groups through the Kosovo Property Rights Program, the Colombia Land and Rural Development Project, and the Côte d’Ivoire PRADD II project.

Contact Our Land Rights Team

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