Princetonlaan 8a, 3584 CB, Utrecht +31 30 253 13 63

Online Hub: Land Governance and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Online Hub:
Land Governance and the
COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19 and the measures taken wordwide to curb the pandemic are of great concern for the global land governance community. In this hub you’ll find more information on the impact of the pandemic on land governance, a link to a Quick-scan Online Survey you may fill out to help us to create an inventory of the first observations and concerns present with the land governance community, and an overview of recently released articles, blogs and other resources on the impact of the current crisis on land governance. This page will be regularly updated.

Land Governance and the COVID-19 Crisis:
Agenda for knowledge and action

COVID-19 crisis puts land rights under pressure

As LANDac (the Netherlands Land Academy) and the LANDdialogue (the Land Governance Multi-stakeholder Dialogue), we are highly concerned about the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic on the land rights of poor people and insist on the importance of sustainable and inclusive land governance. While it is still early to assess the full extent of the impacts of the crisis, alarming observations about forced evictions and a shrinking civil space are coming in from different parts of the world. We urge for early action on the land right violations that are reported now, and argue for a close monitoring of developments in the longer term.

The COVID-19 crisis and the measures taken to curb the pandemic impact poor people heavily. From a land rights perspective, the most worrying immediate effects include the following:

  • Loss of livelihood options, especially in the informal sectors, and deepening levels of poverty and food insecurity.
  • Suspension of democratic controls and the use of violence against environmental and human rights defenders.
  • The closing of land administration services as part of lockdown measures.

We fear that these developments lead to increased risks of irregular land acquisition, resource grabbing and loss of assets and land access for the poor. This is already manifest in some regions in the Global South. We expect that the full extent and impact of shifts in pressures on land due to the pandemic, in combination with the potential erosion of protective and due diligence measures, will become clear over the next months. We summarise these concerns as follows:

  • Loss of assets and land access, and growing inequality: Poor people in both rural and urban areas are at risk of losing their land and properties. In informal urban settings, the close density and risk for disease transmission may be used as justification for forced evictions. The loss of employment and informal life support systems in urban settings have caused a move out of the cities. If de-urbanisation persists, the question is what it will mean for pressures on land in rural settings. Will this lead to squeezing out the poorest segments of the population, through distress sales? What will be the implications for women’s access to land?
  • Lack of due diligence in land-based investments: It is as yet unclear how the expected global economic crisis will affect investment flows. A financial crisis might limit investment possibilities of major players. However, we may see an increase in predatory capitalism and governments may be tempted to attract investments to finance the recovery from the crisis without observing the necessary due diligence.
  • Reduced quality of land governance services: It remains to be seen whether public land administration services will be restored to their pre-COVID levels. Limitations in funding and capacity may limit the role of land governance actors in curtailing irregular land acquisition and enhancing tenure security. Formal land governance systems and programmes aimed at ensuring women’s land rights may be disrupted, which might negatively affect women’s right to land registration and ownership.
  • Suspended democratic controls on land governance: The worrying scenario here is that democratic controls, suspended under states of emergency and lockdowns, will not be restored to their pre-COVID-19 levels and civic space will remain restricted for a long time. The effect may be widespread and cause irreversible grabbing of land, water and forests.

We fear that COVID-19 develops into a severe land rights and land governance crisis. We face a serious risk that the gains of two decades of investing in land governance for sustainable and equitable development are undone. LANDac and the LANDdialogue, as part of the global land governance community, see it as their shared duty to map the problems and suggest adequate responses. The impacts of the COVID-19 crisis need to be placed squarely on the agenda of regional, national and international policymakers. Efforts to mitigate risks to land rights should be stepped up. For the somewhat longer term, the LANDac partnership, with our local and global partners, commits to monitoring developments on the ground, to protect initiatives that aim to improve sustainable and equitable land governance, and to develop a strong knowledge agenda on these issues.

How can you contribute?

  • Fill out our survey (in collaboration with the LANDdialogue)
  • Write a blog for our blog series on land governance and the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Share relevant resources with us (

Quick-scan Online Survey: Land Governance and the COVID-19 Crisis

Version en français ci-dessous
Versión en español a continuación

LANDac (the Netherlands Land Academy) and the LANDdialogue (Land Governance Multi-stakeholder Dialogue) call on their networks to share their concerns and observations on the global COVID-19 pandemic. Fill out this short survey to help the land governance community prepare for the challenges ahead.

COVID-19 and the measures taken worldwide to curb the pandemic are of great concern to the global land governance community. Alarming observations are coming in not only about loss of livelihoods and deepening poverty, but also of government crackdowns on civil society, the suspension of land administration services and irregular land acquisition. While it is still early to assess the precise extent and the combined effects of these developments, our concern is that increased pressures on land in the global South in combination with a potential erosion of protective and due diligence measures, may result in a growing risk of loss of land access to the poor and resource grabbing. It is the shared duty of land governance actors worldwide to prepare for the multiple challenges ahead.

With this survey, LANDac and the LANDdialogue aim to make a first inventory of the observations and concerns in the land governance community. This will help to map the current challenges and opportunities for effective and fair land governance and those to be expected in the near future. The survey is part of a range of efforts developed jointly by LANDac and the LANDdialogue and their partners to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on land rights and help prepare the land governance community to address these.

The results of the survey will remain confidential and anonymous, and only aggregate conclusions will be shared. Questions and concerns regarding the survey and future actions may be directed to Chantal Wieckardt (LANDac) and Alke Gijrath (LANDdialogue) at  

Brief Series Land, Housing, and COVID-19

Following the Webinar Series and Online Discussion on Land Rights Implications of COVID-19 in June 2020, LANDac, together with Landesa, the Land Portal Foundation, New America and the Norwegian Refugee Council published a Brief Series on the impact of COVID-19 on Land and Housing.

In the six months since the coronavirus began its global spread, more than 15 million people have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and more than 600,000 have perished. Governments around the world have instituted lockdowns and shut down businesses. Entire industries have been devastated, notably travel, hospitality, and entertainment in the formal sector, and day labor and street and market vendors in the informal sector. Overall, hundreds of millions of people worldwide have lost their livelihoods.

These facts are well known. But less documented are the various implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the land and property rights of billions of people around the world. This series of briefs, inspired by and sourced heavily from the Land Portal’s Land and COVID-19 webinar and discussion series, spotlights a selection of these challenges, and provides suggestions for how they may be addressed.

You can read the briefs here, or download them below.

This brief series is authored by Karol Boudreaux (Landesa), Alexandre Corriveau-Bourque (Norwegian Refugee Council), Yuliya Panfil (New America), Chantal Wieckardt (LANDac) and our colleagues.

Blog Series

In this blog series, you can read more about early observations and concerns by our partners and broader community. New blogs will be regularly posted, so keep an eye on this page.

Nearly half of formally employed Kenyan have lost their jobs amid Covid-19 crisis: The plight of low-income households’ food and nutrition security – James Wangu, LANDac & Utrecht University, and Fridah Githuku, LANDac & GROOTS Kenya

This blog explores covid-19 pandemic impact on food and nutrition security in Kenya and proposes some response measures that Kenya could adopt to remedy the crisis. Kenya has struggled with a persistent problem of food insecurity in the recent past.

The Impact of Covid-19 on the Land Sector in Mozambique– Alda Salomão, Centro Terra Viva

Like other parts of the world, Mozambique has been constantly devising the safest and most economically feasible ways to protect its citizens and the economy from the global Covid-19 pandemic, since it recorded its first case on 22nd March 2020. In the same month, March 2020, the President of Mozambique put in force a 90-day State of Emergency (SOE) until May 30, 2020 (recently extended for an additional 30 days until the end of June) to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Is the security of tenure for women secured in the ‘Africa we want’?– Grace Ananda, the Oxfam Pan Africa Programme

What is the position of women in Africa 57 years after the formation of the African Union? How would the world look like if women had secure access, and control of their land, and natural resources? Would the food crisis be managed differently during emergencies, like the big one we are now living in? These are the questions I keep asking myself anytime I meet with rural women farmers and engage with policymakers in the African continent.

The threat of Covid-19 in Keyna: Thoughts and worries, and the urgent need for social protection and safety nets plan – James Wangu, LANDac and Utrecht University

For those of us born a few decades after the Second World War, the current novel coronavirus (Covid-19) crisis is unlike anything we have ever experienced in our lifetime. Since the outbreak of the virus in China late last year, Covid-19 has left a trail of suffering in all corners of the world.

Upcoming events

Past events

Online Discussion on the Land Rights Implications of COVID-19 from June 3rd-24th!

LANDac Online Encounter – Monday 29 June to Friday 3rd July, every day between 2PM – 4.30PM CEST.

Land Portal and partners| Leveraging Technology to Accelerate Land Administration in Challenging Environments During COVID-19 and Beyond Tuesday June 9th, 10:00 CEST.

ILC | Building Back Better: How securing land rights will be critical in a post-COVID19 world Wednesday 3 June

Land Portal and partners | Migration, Displacement, and De-urbanization in the Context of COVID-19: Thursday, May 28th, 9:00-10:30 AM EST (3:00-4:30 PM CEST) 

Land Portal and partners | Eviction response during and after COVID-19: Wednesday, May 27th, 9:00-10:30 AM EST (3:00-4:30 PM CEST) 

Land Portal and partners | Women’s Housing and Land Rights and Covid-19: Tuesday, May 26th, 9:00-10:30 AM EST (3:00-4:30 PM CEST) 

The Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies | Public Lecture Post Covid-19 Land Development: an opportunity for more sustainable practices? Thurday 14 May 2020 14:00 CEST

Stand For Her Land and partners | Women’s Land and Property Rights During COVID-19 Wednesday 13 May

IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative | How companies and land-based operators in Africa are responding to COVID-10 Thursday 23 April

IDH The Sustainable Trade Initiative | COVID19 -What on-site measures can agricultural and forestry companies and sustainable landscapes operators take? Thursday 2nd April

For an overview of all events, click here.

Recently Released Resources

This overview will be continously updated. If you have any resources that are not included yet and which you’d like to share, please contact us at

Articles, blogs, news

News Hub | Tenure Security and COVID-19 Pandemic – GLTN and partners

Blog | New threats to resource rights and food security: COVID-19 impact and response – David Betge, ZOA

News | The effects of COVID-19 measures on rural communities – Tropenbos International

Opinion piece | Land and resource investment consultations in the time of COVID-19: The hazards of pressing on – Sam Szoke-Burke, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investments, in Thomson Reuters

Opinion piece | Will the shock of COVID-19 finally move land administration into the modern world? – Rhierry Hoza Ngoga and Yuliya Panfil in Thomson Reuters.

Blog | Stopping land and policy grabs in the shadow of COVID-19 – Lorenzo Cotula, IIED

Report | Voices from the Ground: How the Global Mining Industry is Profiting from the COVID-19 Pandemic – Earthworks (USA), Institute for Policy Studies – Global Economy Program (USA), London Mining Network (UK), MiningWatch Canada, Terra Justa, War on Want (UK) and Yes to Life No to Mining

News | From Brazil to Kenya, coronavirus widows lose their husbands and then their lands – Kim Harrisberg in Thomson Reuters

Blog | Privatization and dispossession in the shadow of the Pandemic – Prof. Tomaso Ferrando and Prof. Marcela Vecchione-Gonçalves, members of Properties in Transformation,

Statement| Suspend MFI Debts and Return Land Titles Amid Covid-10 Pandemic – Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO)

News | Coronavirus effect: Land values in Metro Manila to decline – Denise A. Valdez, BusinessWorld

News | Addis Ababa City Government Makes 1,000 people Homeless – Ezega News

Blog | Covid-19 as an opportunity for people-centred land reform in Nepal – Dharm Raj Joshi, ILC-NES Nepal

Blog | Covid-19 pandemic exposes housing, food, water and sanitation problems in Nepal – Dharm Raj Joshi, ILC-NES Nepal

Statement | UN Habitat policy statement on the prevention of evictions and relocations during the COVID-19 crisis – UN Habitat

Opinion| How COVID-19 puts women’s housing, land, and property rights at risk – Victoria Stanley and Paul Prettitore (World Bank) for Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Blog | Reviving the post Covid-19 Indian Economy and the Twin Challenges for Informal Workers and Slums – Pranab Choudhury and Shobha Rao for the Land Portal Foundation.

Blog | Karachi, informal settlements and COVID-19 – Arif Hasan for IIED.

Blog | Curbing the impacts of COVID-19 on Nepal’s small-scale farmers and seizing opportunities for food system reform – Jagat Deuja for IIED.

News | Coronavirus seen delaying justice for Iraqi women displaced by war – Ban Barkawi, Thomson Reuters Foundation.

News | Land Sector distress: Land offices closed since March 15th (Kenya) – KTN News Kenya

News | Latest news on Land and Covid-19 – The Land Portal Foundation.

Article | How COVID-19 is affecting land rights in Africa – Israel Bionyo, ILC.

Article | Exploring the links between COVID-19 and land-use change – Tropenbos International.

Article | COVID-19, the Land Administration Sector and Spatial Information – Rohan Bennett, Eva-Maria Unger, Christiaan Lemmen, Kees de Zeeuw at GIM International.

Blog | Gasvondst in Mozambique: zegen of vloek? (NL) – Anne de Jonghe and Daniëlle Hirsch, Both ENDS.

Blog | COVID-19 and global economic ordering: radical shift or more of the same? – Lorenzo Cotula and Brendan Schwartz, IIED Natural Resources research group.

Blog | Increasing Segregation? Impact of Covid19 in the Cities of Africa and South Asia – Philip Amis, International Development Department, University of Birmingham.

Blog | How the corona crisis is calling into question the “right to the city” – Eva Dick, German Development Institute.

Blog | Giving away our land as Americans shelter in place – Joshua Axelrod, NRDC.

Editorial | Land and environmental defenders are sitting ducks, while world goes into lockdown – Michel Forst, UN special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, and Michael Taylor, Director of the International Land Coalition Secretariat.

Opinion | Land seizures and COVID-19: The twin threats to Brazil’s indigenous peoples – Richard Pearshouse and Jurema Werneck, Amnesty International (posted at Thomson and Reuters Foundation).

News | Land conflicts escalate with spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia – Hans Nicholas Jong, Mongabay.

News | Illegal loggers uncowed by coronavirus as deforestation rises in Brazil – Jake Spring, Reuters.

News | New IFAD Fund launched to help prevent rural food crisis in the wake of COVID-19 – IFAD.

News | Nepal’s Belaka Municipality uses STDM to identify vulnerable families during COVID-19 pandemic – GLTN.

News | Colombian death squads exploiting coronavirus lockdown to kill activists  – Joe Parkin Daniels, The Guardian.

News | Land rights defenders charged with criminal trespass, released on police bond –

News | CHR asks PNP to probe alleged dispersal of people’s barricade in Vizcaya mining site – Gabriel Pabico Lalu,

Statement | Statement in Solidarity with Amazonian Indigenous Peoples Facing the Novel Coronavirus – COICA (Coordinator of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basis).


Useful resources for Legal Empowerment Groups, Namati (Innovations in Legal Empowerment)

Submit Data | LANDex – ILC and Defending Land and Environmental Defenders Coalition.

ILC and Defending Land and Environmental Defenders Coalition are taking stock of the impacts that COVID-19 is having on defenders of the land and the environment. Cases of violence, repression and reprisals against land and environment defenders in the context of COVID-19 can be securely reported via LANDex.

Response Plan | Support UN-Habitat’s COVID-19 Response Plan – UN-Habitat.

Interactive Map | COVID-19 Conflict Risk Model – TMP Systems.


Webinar | Responsiveness of the Land Sector to the COVID-19 Crisis: Does it Guarantee Food Security and Optimum Land Use? – Food Rights Alliance and Oxfam International.

Webinar | COVID-19: A Perspective from Rural South Africa – Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies.  

Webinar | COVID-19 Series: Webinar II – How companies and land-based operators are responding to COVID-19 – IDH (Sustainable Trade Initiative).