- Main applicant: M. van Leeuwen (Radbouw University, Centre for International Conflict - Analysis & Management (CICAM), the Netherlands)
- Co-applicants: K. Breetvelt (The Hague Academy for Local Governance, the Netherlands), L. Joseph (Norwegian People’s Aid, United Nations Human Settlements Program, DRC Congo), O. Sylla (UN Habitat, DRC Congo), and G. van der Haar (Wageningen University, the Netherlands)
By looking through the lens of land, this action research aims to contribute to understanding the justice concerns of local people in DR Congo's eastern Kivu Provinces and South Sudan's Greater Equatoria region, and how, through land governance, public authorities may respond to these. Both areas are conflict-affected and fragile settings, where local people perceive governance of and politics on land as a major source of injustice.
Land is a key issue in the local and national political economy, while ambiguous and ineffective institutional frameworks further land tenure-insecurity and dispute. Dealing with land-related injustices is a key arena for renegotiating relations between local state institutions and citizens. In both countries, the central state is trying to rebuild itself in local communities through decentralization and expansion of service provision, while concurrently, many land conflicts are met by customary institutions and through local arrangements.
The need for more effective responses to land-related concerns is widely recognised, but both the emerging state-system and customary arrangements have their weaknesses. For organizations intervening in land disputes and tenure-security it is difficult to decide which practices of land governance to support. Through an interactive research methodology, this project identifies the diversity of land-related justice concerns and practices of local land governance, and compares these with the assumptions underlying land-related intervention strategies. Through multi-sited participatory analysis and exchange it aims to generate alternative, regionally-anchored discourses to inform policy options and intervention strategies, and explores how interveners might more effectively engage civilians in debates on reforming land tenure.