Irrigated Land Tenure in Myanmar and Cambodia: The state, the market... and smallholders!

TitleIrrigated Land Tenure in Myanmar and Cambodia: The state, the market... and smallholders!
Annotated RecordNot Annotated
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsDiepart J-C, Boutry M, Venot J-P
Key themesConversion-FoodSecurity, Distribution, Environment, Formalisation-titling

Rehabilitation and expansion of irrigation imply multi-dimensional transformations (ecological, infrastructural, and socio-political) that reshape agricultural landscapes. Understanding how irrigation investments change the social relations between actors relating to land and connected resources is therefore central to sustainable irrigation development. This study seeks to better understand the land tenure issues unfolding in irrigation development in Myanmar and Cambodia, and to propose an analytical framework that could inform the design of the French Development Agency (AFD)-supported irrigation projects in the two countries. The study examines the assemblage of actors and inistutions central to contemporary irrigated land tenure governance, and identifies three key issues to be accounted for in governing irrigated land tenure: the securitization of rights; agrarian changes that involve social differentiation and indebtedness; and the reconfiguration of access and use of resources in multi-functional wetlands progressively converted to irrigation. The final section discusses implications for more effective inclusion of land tenure issues in the design and implementation of irrigation projects.


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Cambodia, Myanmar

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