PHOTO: In the remote communities of Kawthaung in Myanmar, Landesa’s district lead U Myo Zaw Oo (left) works with Forest Department officials to certify a new mangrove forest. More than 5000 acres have already been protected in Kawthaung, securing the forestland rights of several hundred vulnerable families dwelling there, and protecting the livelihoods of thousands more of their neighbors.
KAWTHAUNG, MYANMAR — Agility is essential to a successful land rights reform program – a lesson passed down through our work since Landesa’s founder, Roy Prosterman, learned it in the paddy fields of Vietnam five decades ago. In the time of social distancing and stay-at-home orders under COVID-19, that lesson has once again been put into sharp relief.
In Myanmar, Landesa is helping preserve momentum toward reform – both on the land and online – with a series of measures to protect our staff and government partners while keeping vital activities running. When a national stay-at-home order was issued in March, Landesa shifted to Work from Home and implemented the recommended sanitation and social distancing guidelines. As our own team shifted to meeting virtually, Landesa staff helped our partners in government and civil society transition to the virtual workplace as well, enabling land administration and forest department officials to use video conferencing to coordinate – in real-time – surveying, mapping, data collection, and other land reform efforts across hundreds of sites spanning hundreds of miles across often rugged terrain.