Landesa staff conducting fieldwork in China, 1995
Travel restrictions related to COVID-19 have constrained our program activities. Landesa’s land experts rely on field research and assessments to analyze and measure progress toward land rights reforms and initiatives in the places where we work. In lieu of this field research, our staff have shifted to desk research to deepen our understanding of the latest insights into the efficacy of land rights. In China, where staff have been under shelter-in-place orders for more than two months, the ability to pivot to desk research and virtual meetings with our government partners has been essential to continuing our operations during a significant suspension of field research. Video-conferencing and workplace productivity software have helped us stay connected and to collaborate across teams and time zones.
While digital tools have propelled us forward, in select cases our staff have turned to analog innovations to continue their work. In Myanmar, where home internet connectivity is limited, staff have shifted to handwriting training manuals and resources – work that is well-suited to pen and paper. These tools, written in the Myanmar language, will help train local officials on best practices around land management and governance.
With no clarity on how or when the world will come out of the pandemic crisis, we’ve also begun preparing for an extended period of uncertainty, disrupted operations and funding constraints. We are focusing now on conserving resources and finding new efficiencies so we can emerge a stronger organization. However, periods of transition can reveal opportunities for land rights reform progress and we are poised to take advantage.
Whether on paper or in the cloud, Landesa is positioned to continue our work both across our teams and with our partners in government, civil society, and the private sector to focus on solutions for stronger and more equitable land rights – a powerful tool for promoting peace and prosperity around the world.