Land issues and disputes happen but are not often reported. The Lao government has provided various mechanisms and schemes for people and institutions to surface and solve issues, disputes and complaints. The national parliament for example instituted a telephone hotline for anybody to use and lodge any issue or complain. According to the government more than 60% of such complaints are related to land. Such disputes and complaints are often handled internally within the government, the political party and with concerned stakeholders. Thus only a few of such disputes are in fact surfaced or known publicly and solutions are unheard of.

The GIZ Land Program aims to enhance further the Lao government’s capabilities in handling land issues, as well as to improve overall land governance. One mechanism introduced is the conduct of participatory approaches in land planning involving villagers and local leaders in so-called “hotspot” areas. The participatory tools introduced coupled with the objective analyses of area situations using UAVs or drones technology allowed government and the community better understanding and overall situational awareness of the issues, as well as potential solutions and dispute resolution options.

This presentation will provide insights on the experiences of the program as well as the challenges in institutionalizing land issues identification and conflict resolution within the government system. While it presents some successes it will also provide an analysis of why it’s difficult to develop a dispute mechanism within the context of socio-political realities of the country.