Land Rights

Tetra Tech provides industry-leading expertise in land governance and effective stakeholder engagement to resolve challenges and tap into opportunities related to access, use, and control of land and other natural resources.

Establishing secure and documented property rights is essential for inclusive economic growth, environmental sustainability, conflict mitigation, and development that leaves no one behind. People living in poverty—especially women, local and customary communities, Indigenous Peoples, youth, and other vulnerable groups—often face bias, exclusion, and negligent practices that threaten their access, use, and control over vital resources and hinder their ability to move sustainably out of poverty. Consistent with foundational international guidelines like the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forestry in the Context of National Food Security, Tetra Tech leverages its core expertise to strengthen property rights to land, as well as water, forests, grazing lands, minerals, and other natural resources.

Tetra Tech has implemented more than 100 projects and complex activities related to urban and rural land governance in 30 countries, including those that are amidst or recovering from crises like conflict and natural disaster. Our clients include bilateral and multilateral development assistance organizations. We partner with governments, community leaders, private sector, and civil society to address the most pressing challenges and leverage secure rights for economic opportunities and sustainable land uses. Our team of experts addresses complex land governance reforms through technical assistance, outreach and communications, capacity building, and design of assessments, analytical tools, and sound monitoring and learning activities.

Our Expertise in Land Rights

Sound policy and legal and regulatory frameworks for land governance, under both statutory and customary structures, are the foundation for strong land tenure and property rights for people, communities, and enterprises. Around the world, Tetra Tech engages with government partners and with diverse stakeholders supporting participatory processes and providing technical assistance in land policy development and legal research. Learn more about our land policy and legal reform work under the Land Administration to Nurture Development in Ethiopia project. Similarly, we engage our partners to design, pilot, and scale effective approaches to the implementation of policies and laws. We blend accepted development principles and innovative approaches in our work.

Tetra Tech partners with governments to develop their capacity to plan, manage, implement, and sustainably maintain land administration systems. We work with national and local government institutions, including customary and community authorities, on a wide array of capacities including:

  • Land rights documentation through parcel mapping
  • Document issuance and registration
  • Establishment of accessible, sustainable cadaster and land registration systems and information updating
  • Dispute resolution
  • Gender and social inclusion

We also engage with local public, private, and civic organizations to build capacities for their effective participation in reform processes and to leverage their land rights for economic opportunity. Learn more about our land administration and capacity building work through the Colombia Land and Rural Development Project (LRDP).

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. We work to build the capacity of local stakeholders—from government officials to members of mining cooperatives—to understand and implement the principles of due diligence, chain of custody, and certification. These principles are critical to sustaining a legal trade in artisanal minerals, including gold, diamonds, tin, and tantalum.

For the past decade, we have worked with the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in West and Central Africa to strengthen traceability around diamonds from conflict-ridden zones. Through the Property Rights and Artisanal Diamond Development (PRADD II) project in the Central African Republic (CAR), Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Liberia, Tetra Tech not only helped strengthen the diamond chain of custody but also helped rural communities diversify their livelihoods away from dependence on non-renewable diamond deposits. We continue this work in CAR with the Artisanal Mining and Property Rights project, which includes a special emphasis on promoting economic and social inclusion of women. Tetra Tech also helped launch the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) first traceability system for artisanal gold with the Capacity Building for Responsible Minerals Trade project, resulting in the first-ever export of certified, conflict-free artisanal gold from the DRC.

Community-owned or controlled land is common throughout the developing world but is sometimes not recognized in the land policies, laws, and administrative practices of a country. Even where recognized, these rights might not be mapped or documented by the community or government, often translating into tenure insecurity, disputes, or dispossession affecting the whole community or individuals within it. Land tenure rights of women and youth are often less secure than those of adult males in customary settings. To help communities to protect their land and resources, Tetra Tech provides community self-identification and boundary demarcation services, participatory land use planning, and formation and training of representative land governance bodies. Learn more about our work with open source data collection, community mapping, and participatory engagement through the Tenure and Global Climate Change program in Zambia, PRADD II in Côte d’Ivoire, and the Ethiopia Land Administration to Nurture Development.

Secure property rights enhance women’s and vulnerable peoples’ ability to provide food and money for their households and has been shown to increase their voice and participation in community affairs. Yet only a small percentage of women have equitable access to, use, and control over land and resources, and women are far less likely to have documented property rights. Tetra Tech works to help strengthen legal frameworks and design effective implementation strategies to promote inclusivity, address cultural biases, 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 LRDP, and the Côte d’Ivoire PRADD II.

Secure tenure and effective property rights to land and land-based resources, such as minerals, motivate allocation of land and labor for best uses while minimizing disputes over land rights and enabling efficient land transfers. Climate-smart agriculture and other productivity-enhancing investments are more practical when tenure is secure and rights are well-defined. Documenting land rights, parcel mapping, titling, or certification is helpful for adequate security, although not always necessary. High levels of fixed place investment—urban neighborhoods, capital intensive farming, horticulture, roads, and other infrastructure—may require greater formality of tenure. Learn more about our work securing land tenure for economic growth in Mozambique and Ghana through the Integrated Land and Resource Governance Program.

When tenure and property rights are unclear, disputes over land and natural resources can escalate into violent disputes and become a trigger for widespread armed conflict. Climate change and environmental degradation can exacerbate these dynamics. Migration of people who are affected by resource degradation or displaced by violent conflicts, in turn, can lead to new rounds of tensions over land access. Conducting participatory research, facilitating stakeholder dialogues, shaping improved local land use planning, and strengthening local customary and formal dispute resolution mechanisms are among the ways our team works with local government and communities to reduce conflict. Learn more about our work to favor stability through the Côte d’Ivoire PRADD II project and our support to Colombia’s peace process through the LRDP.

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