Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Resource Economics

Dissertation of Ha Thuc Vien

Land Reform and Rural Livelihoods: An examination from the Uplands of Vietnam

Start: 2003
End: 2007

Since 1986, the government of Vietnam has adopted a series of economic reforms towards a market-oriented economy. Land reform by allocating land and awarding land titles to individual farm households is the breaking point of these reform policies. At the same time, the government has also launched a series of policies and programs on nature conservation and environment protection, particularly for the upland region in order to achieve long-term sustainable development. Introducing economic reforms and land rights privatization into the uplands of Vietnam was expected to increase the livelihoods of upland farmers and enhance the environment protection. However, a comprehensive understanding about benefits that these policies have brought to upland livelihoods and the environment is still missed. This empirical work seeks to understand a number of issues related to: (1) factors causing a diversity of land privatization outcomes across regions, even households; (2) differentiations in the benefit-distribution of land privatization among communities and households; (3) factors affecting household to benefits from land privatization, as well as livelihood making; (4) degree of effectiveness and sufficiency of land privatization and other related development institutions; (5) interconnectedness between protected areas, land privatization, rural livelihoods, nature conservation and environmental protection, are tackled. The empirical analyses from three buffer zone villages of Cat Tien National Park in the Southern uplands of Vietnam have shown that the 1993 Land Law has provided a unique legal framework for privatizing land use rights nationally, but its implementation has produced a diversity of outcomes across localities. Differentiation in land privatisation at local levels, together with protected area regulations, differences in local conditions, households’ resource endowments, access to markets, and productive services have enabled different farm households to pursue livelihood strategies, differently. However, it is found in common that farm households in the study villages tended to undertake livelihood diversification. Moreover, shifts in farm households’ livelihoods to respond to effects of land privatisation, protected areas, and the larger economic institution environment have produced both positive and negative impacts on the rural environment and natural resources.

Researcher: Vien, Ha Thuc

Advisors: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Konrad Hagedorn