Namati’s Community Land Protection Program and partners use a five-part approach that supports communities to: proactively document and map their lands, strengthen local governance, seek formal government recognition of their land rights, and plan for the future of their lands. This guide is an online version of Namati’s step-by-step Community Land Protection Facilitator’s Guide, which is available to download here. This online version splits the guide into sections and includes links to related resources. There is also a French version of the guide here. Each piece of the guide exists because of hard-won lessons from implementation. We recommend reading the entire guide before beginning community land protection efforts because each step is inter-related. Namati encourages adaptation of this process – please share your experiences with us! If you have questions or comments about using the Community Land Protection approach, email

Rising demand for land and natural resources is putting pressure on communities, especially those that do not yet have legally recognized rights to the lands they have used and managed for generations.

Weak protections for the land rights of communities and families can lead to displacement, corruption, and conflict. This damages local livelihoods and ecosystems and undermines global efforts to increase prosperity, peace, and biodiversity.

This section sets out recommendations and guidance on how to most effectively design, manage, and facilitate community land protection initiatives, including strategies to ensure inclusive participation and how to responsibly exit communities.

See also Namati’s Toolkit on How To Develop A Community Paralegal Program for more program management tips and resources.

The activities in this stage raise awareness of the importance of protecting community lands, motivate community members’ participation, and establish mechanisms to ensure an inclusive and representative process.

The activities in this stage support communities to catalogue their existing rules for land and resource management, then improve these rules to enhance justice, equity, accountability, prosperity, and sustainable natural resource management. Facilitators also support communities to align their customary rules with national laws.

The actions in this stage support communities to make participatory maps of their lands, resolve boundary disputes and land conflicts, and document the agreed boundaries with various forms of physical evidence, including signed agreements with neighbors, boundary trees or other markers, and GPS data.

During this stage, communities follow national legal procedures to formally document and register their lands and receive state documentation of their rights. The materials in this section are intentionally general because the specific legal context and official procedures required to register community lands will vary by nation.

These activities are designed to foster long-term community growth and prosperity, according to each community’s self-defined plans and intentions. They support community members to pursue a range of livelihoods, regenerate local ecosystems, prepare for potential negotiations with investors, and take specific steps to actualize their shared community vision.

This section offers recommendations for gathering, analyzing, and using data throughout the community land protection process in order to document short- and long-term impacts and improve implementation.