[Briefing paper] Customary Land Tenure, Case study from Myanmar


The case study was conducted in Myay Latt Village by our partner organization in Myanmar (POINT) Promotion of Indigenous and Nature Together. IPF is acknowledges the effort of POINT and its team working on this research.

Executive Summary

Customary land tenure of the indigenous peoples in Myanmar is not recognized in policies and laws. Lack of legal protection leaves indigenous territories insecure, threatened by investments and other forms of land concession. On the other hand, there is little evidence showing how the community is managing and using the land. Therefore the study to document the customary land tenure system of indigenous peoples is needed for providing evidence of customary ownership of the land and evidence-based advocacy to policy makers. Technical support for documenting customary land tenure is supported by Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG), including training on the concept of customary land tenure. The objective of the
study is to document customary land tenure showing how it is functioning in specific contexts and to utilize the findings of the research in advocacy regarding land policies.

The study mainly focuses on customary land tenure including land ownership, management of land and forests, decision making, inheritance rights, and its relation to livelihoods, food security, and changes in livelihood. The driving forces of change in the livelihood system and food security were identified, such as the government enforcement to stop rotational faming, the introduction of upland orchards by Dr. Tun Than, and the construction of Sittwe-Yangon highway changing access to the market. In particular, internal rules among the villagers concern management of the land such as ownership of the land, the right to sell and rent, and the internal rules among the clans. Moreover, good community practices in rotational farming and environmental conservation were studied. Finally, challenges for customary land tenure in dealing with outsiders, especiallyillegal loggers, and the enforcement of customary rules within the village and with outsiders are also mentioned. There are differences between community forestry and other forest in relation to dealing with the intervention of illegal loggers from outside the community. Lack of recognition of customary land tenure in policies and laws is a threat to the food security and environment of the village because the security of land is essential for food security and good practices of the village are contributing to environmental conservation.


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