Land-conflict resolution network wins prestigious prize

Colombia, February 15, 2011

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  <span class="field-credit">
    Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps  </span>
    Eliecer Chamarra, 44, representative of the indigenous tribe Embera Tobida discusses a proposed threat to their land with Mercy Corps' Hugo Gomez. The Embera have had trouble protecting their lands ever since their reservation was established in 2001. The government hasn't responded to their complaints. Mercy Corps is training them and neighboring communities in an alternative conflict-resolution process, which will also help the Embera fight a proposed highway that would split their land in two. Photo: Miguel Samper for Mercy Corps

Our efforts at peacefully resolving violent land conflicts in Guatemala and Colombia have won a prestigious $50,000 prize from the Omidyar Network and Ashoka Changemakers.

Our Red Tierras (Land Network) initiative was announced today as one of three winners of the Property Rights: Identity, Dignity & Opportunity for All competition. Prize money totaling US$50,000 will be applied toward its solution to connect local stakeholders to find lasting solutions to violent land conflict. This global online challenge, led by Omidyar Network and Ashoka Changemakers, recognizes innovators that are enhancing access to land rights for the world’s poor and marginalized populations.

Red Tierras is a dynamic network that connects local stakeholders seeking lasting solutions to violent land conflict in Colombia. In the pursuit of solutions to conflict over land, Red Tierras brings together land rights practitioners from marginalized communities, citizen sector organizations, and government agencies from across Latin America to replicate best practices and share lessons learned about land conflict resolution, agrarian reform, and sustainable natural resource management.

Network activities include onsite cross-visits and are evolving into a broader network that will include a virtual platform: To date, the Red Tierras program has resolved more than 290 land disputes, and secured land tenure for more than 25,000 indigenous families in Guatemala.

A total of 211 entries were submitted to the competition from 47 countries by some of the most forward-thinking leaders in property rights. The winners receive both a financial prize and access to a broader network of leaders, helping them to grow this important field.