How our global operations are adapting to COVID-19; making connections with a virtual panel; working towards change in Myanmar
This newsletter was sent on April 9, 2020
Sign up to receive the next edition
Plotlines - Landesa's Monthly e-Newsletter

New Landscape, New Approaches

Since our founding, Landesa has been committed to finding systemic solutions for the economic and social empowerment of rural communities. Through this critical work, carried out across political, social, and geographic contexts, we’ve learned to be adaptive and responsive to both local and global circumstances. 

COVID-19, virtually unprecedented in its scope and impact on daily life around the world, represents a new set of challenges. We’ve taken a number of steps to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees and their communities and to ensure our vital work continues.

Our global staff, located on four continents, are following all local and national protocols for social distancing and shelter-in-place orders. Landesa’s US-based and country offices have shifted to a work-from-home model. Fortunately, our robust IT support and infrastructure has allowed us to manage this transition seamlessly. Landesa’s culture has always favored flexibility for our employees to work remotely, and many were already equipped with home offices and workstations.

Landesa staff interviewing farmers in China, June 1995

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.

Connecting virtually for panel on smallholder farmers

Screenshot of panelists during discussion

ONLINE — Even though we can't gather in person, we're still working to create spaces that increase collaboration in our land rights community. Last week, Landesa hosted a virtual Skoll World Forum panel with partners from Mercy Corps, Meridia, Chandler Foundation, and One Acre Fund to explore the role that secure land rights play in boosting the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

Listen to a podcast version of the panel here →

In Myanmar, a land rights program is accelerating gender equality, growing rural incomes, and preserving forests

Ma Phyu in front of her garden

Blog by Beth Roberts

MYANMAR — What if we could alleviate rural poverty, strengthen women’s rights, and help turn the tide against climate change, all at once? In Myanmar, a program to secure land rights for the country’s forest-dwelling communities is helping villages make progress toward all three.

Continue reading →

Landesa in the news

Nandhu Kumar Unsplash_India_ILDC

The Road to ILDC 2020: An interview with Shipra Deo
Landesa’s Director for Women’s Land Rights in India, Shipra Deo, was interviewed about the challenges to women's land rights in various contexts and Landesa's efforts to deliver solutions that drive systemwide change. (Land Portal)


Where Indigenous Women Take Lead on Land Rights, Communities Thrive 
Landesa Chief Program Officer Karol Boudreaux was interviewed for an article on the importance of women’s land rights in indigenous and community settings. (Sojourners)

Poonam Barman

While our fieldwork is paused and our staff are sheltering in place around the world, we're going back through our archives and choosing some of our favorite stories to share with you.

Follow our Instagram to catch each #FromTheArchives story. 

First up: Poonam Barman, 14-year-old star student and dreamer.


Copyright © 2020, All rights reserved.

1424 4th Ave Suite 300
Seattle, WA 98101