Security of tenure to land and other natural resources plays a vital role in the livelihoods of many especially the smallholder farmers in the Philippines who make up a significant contribution to the agricultural sector. For them, security of tenure means that they will be able to provide the next meal for their families and invest in their land for improved livelihoods.
The Global Land Tool Network within the Land, Housing and Shelter Section of the UN- Habitat is implementing the ‘Secure Access to Land and Resources (SALaR)’ project with an objective to improve the land and natural resources tenure security of smallholder farmers, majority of which are poor women, men and vulnerable groups in Philippines, Laos and Uganda. The Project contributes and supports the efforts of Federal Republic of Germany in improving food security through their “One World-No Hunger” initiative.
SALaR in the Philippines
Despite the unexpected disruption of project activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines, the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC) and Xavier Science Foundation, Inc (XSF) who are the implementing Partners of the local SALaR initiative ‘Improving Tenure Security of Smallholder Farmers in Select Areas in the Philippines,’ have made tremendous progress with regards to securing tenure security for indigenous communities in Northern Mindanao. They have done this while strictly observing measures put in place by the government to control the spread of the corona virus. Practicing the ‘new normal’ measures, the partners together with the representatives from the Barangay have successfully managed to award more than 500 Certificates of Customary Land Occupancy (CoCLO) to family members of the Indigenous Peoples Organizations (IPOs) of the Nagkahiusang Manobong Manununod sa Yutang Kabilin (NAMAMAYUK) and Portulin Talaandig Tribal Association (PTTA) of Pangantucan, Bukidnon. This is in addition to about twenty-three certificates issued in November 2019 to community members of the NAMAMAYUK IPO.
The project aims to enhance the tenure security of smallholder farmers in Northern Mindanao, particularly those who belong to indigenous groups with a target of reaching 2,500 smallholder households. The process involves data collection through participatory enumeration and the use and application of Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) primarily led by youth and women from the target communities. STDM is one of many tools developed by GLTN to support the documentation of land rights for all, including women and vulnerable groups. The project has opened opportunities for the youth groups in terms of skill transfer by harnessing their technical skills while collecting geo-spatial information from the communities and being at the frontline during encoding of the data collected using STDM. On the other hand, participatory enumeration processes have provided a platform for engagement and have given women the confidence to voice out issues not only concerning the project, but also on broader issues affecting their community while at the same time empowering them to take the lead in addressing their community’s concern on tenure security.
Awarding of Certificate of Customary Land Occupancy
The awarding of certificates to family members of Indigenous Peoples Organizations (IPOs) has reignited hope on their long battle in securing their ancestral lands. Though the certificates issued do not bear any legal recognition nor the right to lease or sell the land, they instill a sense of security and respect towards the lands the community till and rely on for their daily livelihood. Clear boundaries of each household’s farm were delineated and are now recognized by the local tribal leaders, Barangay (village) chair and among neighbours in their respective villages. Also, through this initiative, land conflicts reported to have happened at the household level have been minimized as both men and women are given equal recognition to the land; both sign in the certificate as recognized owners of the land.
The Project owes its success to a vibrant and effective partnership between the implementing partners -ANGOC and XSF, the target IPOs of NAMAMAYUK, PTTA and Miarayon Lapok Lirongan Tinaytayan Talaandig Tribal Association (MILALITTRA), and the strong support of the traditional authority or the tribal chieftain commonly referred to as the Datu.
This project is made possible through the generous financial support of German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) as part of their bigger initiative to end hunger through improved food security.