GPI assisted more than 2,500 people from 460 farming households to obtain the legal right to farm village land and enhance their livelihoods.
Farmers in Magyizin village in Pathein have often lost their indigenous rights to cultivate land due to urbanization, government projects, and confiscation by the military and entrepreneurs. Access to justice for these farmers is limited by their lack of legal knowledge and sufficient resources to enforce their rights. With grant support from Tetra Tech’s Promoting the Rule of Law Project (PRLP), the Green Peasant Institute (GPI) has trained 14 paralegals in Pathein, who were selected from the local population. Once trained, the paralegals shared their legal knowledge and led discussions about land issues with 69 farmers as part of their awareness raising activities.
GPI is coordinating with partners such as Land Core Group and Namati to further expand their technical expertise. Namati organized a National Paralegal Network in Myanmar last year using a grassroots approach. GPI is also conducting advocacy activities with governmental units such as the Village Group Administration, Forestry, Land Registration and Agriculture Departments. To be more effective, GPI engaged union and regional members of parliament (MPs) for their support.
GPI helped the farmers submit proposals to the relevant regional ministries requesting permission to farm the village land. As a result, more than 2,500 people from 460 farming households in 8 villages were granted legal rights to approximately 25 acres (10 hectares) of land. The rights were granted based on laws that allow access to vacant, fallow, and virgin land.
GPI continues to train paralegals who will offer legal consultation and advice to an estimated 120 cases through their new legal aid center in Pathein. The experience gathered from these cases will also inform advocacy efforts to reform laws and procedures. GPI is also conducting coordination meetings and legal awareness workshops between paralegals, clients, and land management committees to enhance access to justice services.
Through their grants program, PRLP is providing technical assistance and capacity development to help local communities promote more effective, accountable, and accessible justice sector institutions. This will increase legal literacy and access to justice, and support marginalized populations in target states and regions. With this support, PRLP is helping local civil society organizations to develop their capacity to engage in public policy development and advocacy.