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Land tenure

One of the Eldis RSS newsfeeds on major development issues

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Has land reform changed land ownership concentration?

14 Sep 2007 11:48:49 GMT

Possession of vast lands is a major representation of wealth in the Philippines - a privilege enjoyed largely by the ruling class since the colonial era. This ownership of huge tracts of land has resulted in numerous political, social, and economic inequalities. This edition of Development Research News addresses these disparities.

The authors argue that the cause of failed land reform policies lies in the authorities having ignored the evasion tactics of landowners. These tactics have enabled them to avoid the redistribution of their lands to small farmers. Rather than seeking to erase the social injustices associated with land ownership, it is argued that, in many instances, this highly politicised land reform has only propagated the cycle of rural poverty and economic stagnation, and, consequently, social unrest.

While advocating for improved monitoring and controlling of evasion, equally crucial to the authors is examining the reasons why farmer beneficiaries of land reform are increasingly selling or mortgaging
the lands awarded to them.

Landlessness within the vicious cycle of poverty in Ugandan rural farm households: why and how it is born?

02 Jul 2007 11:29:07 GMT

Rising poverty in rural Uganda is linked to increasing landlessness, as the latter drives land degradation and reduces agricultural productivity. This paper examines the complex relationship between owning land and poverty. It identifies effective strategies and land policy guidance to address this concern.

Findings from a comparison of recent panel data indicate that:

• landless households are headed by younger males with lower levels of education, and are smaller than     the landed households
• higher per capita income is positively associated with land holdings
• poverty reduction reduces the risk of becoming landless
• inheriting land and resources capital reduces a household’s probability of becoming landless.

To prevent further landlessness among rural Ugandan families, the authors suggest:

• providing development pathways, such as enhancing livestock and the human capital of households
• provide proportionate resource transmission by parents to children, for example ensure that parents with one acre will pass on an acre to their children.

‘It is our land’: human rights and land tenure reform in Namaqualand, South Africa

19 Jun 2007 11:09:54 GMT

Secure access to resources is now recognised in human rights discourse as a universal condition of human well-being. This paper aims to contribute to the theoretical and empirical understanding of land tenure as a human rights issue, by analysing recent land tenure policy in South Africa. Specifically, the paper analyses the implementation of the Transformation of Certain Rural Areas Act (Trancraa) in Namaqualand, Northern Cape Province during 2001 and 2002.

Trancraa is the first comprehensive post-apartheid land tenure reform in state-claimed, communal lands. It provides for land tenure reform in state-claimed rural areas, formerly ‘coloured reserves’, by returning ownership rights to residents or local institutions through a consultative process. The paper documents the implementation of Trancra in two Rural Areas, Pella and Komaggas. Key findings include:

  • in Pella, the Transformation Committee defended interests in land and development within a pragmatic engagement with civil society and government
  • in Komaggas, the Trancraa process was resisted by a community group that saw the Act as assuming state ownership of land and promoting specific interests
  • claims that "it is our land" could reflect both discourses of community tenure and conflicting claims by different groups
  • the state’s offer that "it is your land" was shaped by discourses of market-based development and sometimes appeared as ‘an opportunity for the state to bail out’.

Based on this case study, the paper draws some general conclusions about land tenure as a human rights issue. These include:

  • a social order in which human rights are respected will remove some sources of tenure insecurity, such as racial and gender discrimination
  • rights to information, political participation and non-discrimination are important to enable a fair and effective land reform
  • secure land tenure contributes to the realisation of human rights such as rights to livelihood, work and substantial equality
  • the empirical role of human rights depends on many actors, processes and contextual factors
  • human rights can make collective guarantees about supporting struggles for human capabilities and social transformation, as shown in the Trancraa process.

Will pastoral legislation disempower pastoralists in the Sahel?

07 Mar 2007 12:00:00 GMT

Guinea, Mauritania, Mali, and Burkina Faso have all passed specific legislation in support of pastoralism. This paper reports that while some of these laws provide an improved framework for the management of rangelands and greater tenure security for pastoralists, they contain conceptual and practical problems which may ultimately further marginalise pastoral people.

Crucially, the new legislation seeks to manage access to resources through complicated procedures controlled by various levels of government. In doing so, pastoral communities are disempowered as they neither understanding nor have any control over these provisions. Livestock mobility could be reduced and the authors fear that elites could ultimately capture exclusive rights to water and land. The report recommends that these issues be urgently addressed.

In order for local communities to benefit from decentralisation, they must:

  • build their capacities to influence local government decision-making and hold them accountable, particularly over land and other natural resources
  • pastoralists must learn to articulate a vision for pastoralism that can be understood by policymakers

In turn, policymakers themselves need to better understand the Sahelian pastoralist environments, the role social and political networks play in the management of natural resources and the central place of pastoralism as a viable system and major contributor to national economies.

In summary, the paper concludes that pastoralists, through their associations, have to develop the necessary “leverage” to ensure that improved knowledge and understanding is actually used to improve policy and legislation in support of pastoralism as a livelihood system.

Forest dependence and participation in forest co-management in Malawi

08 Feb 2007 12:00:00 GMT

Using data from Chimaliro and Liwonde forest reserves in Malawi, this paper investigates how forest dependence influences households' decision to participate in forest co-management programme. The key question of this paper is: What makes people participate in the forest comanagement (FCM) programme in Malawi? In particular, how does forest dependence (share of forest income) affect households’ participation decisions?

The authors find that where forests primarily have a gap filling or safety net role in Chimaliro, high forest dependency induces higher rates of participation. However, with more commercial forest uses and a more heterogeneous social context as in Liwonde, high forest dependency reduces the incentives for participation.

The findings point to the need to design parallel interventions alongside the forest co-management program in order to provide supplementary income sources to participants and increase the incentives for participation.

The land question in South Africa

16 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

The need for large-scale land redistribution in Southern Africa is undisputed. In order to redress centuries of dispossession, this highly complex process has the potential to encourage economic growth and poverty reduction. Based on a 2004 conference in Cape Town, this publication details the major themes in the de-racialisation of land ownership in South Africa.

The book covers the work of ten key voices on the issue of land reform both regionally and in South Africa. The first section of the book establishes a historical, theoretical and comparative context for the South African debate. In the second section, contributors present their perspectives on how the land question should be framed in South Africa, analyse existing land policy and its results, and propose alternatives and future directions for policy and practice.

This collection represents reflections on the land situation during a decade of democracy which, with the added benefit of hindsight, can can contribute to a more robust and focused policy debate.

The unresolved land reform debate: beyond state-led or market-led models

08 Nov 2006 12:00:00 GMT

Sharp inequalities in the distribution of land remains a major cause of extreme poverty in many developing countries. Some instances are the result of ownership patterns inherited from colonial administrations, others are linked to the struggle for economic prosperity in the post-independence era.

Landlessness is therefore a significant problem for the rural poor. Most remedies that have been undertaken previously have not yielded positive results, as can be witnessed in Southern Africa today. This policy brief thus discusses how the land question can be addressed, through effective and equitable land reform policies.

The paper examines some state-led models of land reform in various contexts, from Korea, Cuba and Bolivia to the Philippines and Japan. Market-led models, which tend to dominate the land reform arena, are also assessed. Examples include Brazil, Colombia and South Africa. The authors argue that the historical record shows neither state-led nor market-led land reform models have been wholly successful in removing these inequities.

There is thus a need for an alternative model of land reform that could both satisfy legitimate and urgent demands for social justice and develop an agrarian system that is economically viable. The authors propose a "Distributive Alternative" containing four components:

  • The First Pillar: the rural poor need to establish their own independent organisations - mass mobilisation of the landless has, in many cases, led to successful land reform programmes
  • The Second Pillar: a broad pro-reform political coalition should wield decisive political influence at the national level - reform efforts led by the poor require a base which is politically broad enough to ensure active state support for carrying through redistribution
  • The Third Pillar: genuine material support remains important - such as through public investment, state loans and technical assistance
  • The Fourth Pillar: interventions are unlikely to succeed unless they are part of a growth-oriented development strategy - economic policies need to be geared towards pro-poor growth.

More than simply "socially embedded": recognising the distinctiveness of African land rights

22 Oct 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Land tenure reform remains a key policy issue in Africa, given the large proportion of people relying on land and natural resources for their livelihoods. This paper addresses the exclusionary nature of many processes around land, which can lead to social divisions. The increasing vulnerability of a poor majority must be the central focus of land policies, and democratisation of decision-making around land rights should be integral to these policies.

The authors reveal that it is not enough to simply acknowledge the socially, politically and historically embedded character of land rights, or the unequal outcomes of contemporary forms of "enclosure". Specifically, they find that:

  • occupation and use rights must be made socially legitimate as they are currently held and practised – regardless of whether or not they are "customary"
  • law and policy needs to respond to the key features of these property regimes. If they do not, there is a risk of distorting them in attempts to codify and register rights
  • legal frameworks should attribute land rights to those who occupy and use land, and not in groups or institutions. These frameworks should recognise that rights are often shared and socially relative, and therefore also be flexible
  • the State must play a key role in overseeing local governance. This is needed to ensure democratic principles are applied and that there is accountability to the majority of rights-holders.

Investing in maintaining mobility in pastoral systems of the arid and semi-arid regions of Sub-Saharan Africa

05 Oct 2006 11:00:00 GMT

This paper seeks to provide national and international policy-makers interested in the development of arid and semi-arid areas with background information and policy options, on whether and how to invest in mobility of pastoral systems in Africa.

It first describes the trends leading to declining mobility, followed by a description of the key underlying causes for these trends and their impacts on mobile pastoralists. It then provides the rationale for investments and concludes with policy options which policy-makers face when deciding on priorities to be allocated to overall pastoral development, and to specific actions within pastoral development.

Major policy options and their trade-offs fall under the following headings:

  • Overall vision and development thrusts. These include the grounding of land-use decisions on human carrying capacity factors, arable farming versus pastoral grazing options, awareness raising through broad consultation, and strengthening pastoral organisations
  • Defining the incentive policies. Possibilities include payment for services, such as charging for water use, the provision of subsidised livestock feed, and compensation for environmental services, such as sustainable range management
  • Defining resource access policies- mainly ensuring access and user rights
  • Defining investments. These includes investments in infrastructure, social and technical services, and funding for research
  • Partnerships and knowledge sharing. The coordination and knowledge sharing among programmes on national and (sub) regional level would be an important asset.

Making property rights accessible: social movements andlegal innovation in the Philippines

04 Oct 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Today, many rural poor Filipinos are using state law to try to claim land rights. In spite of the availability of a much stronger set of legal resources than ever before, claiming legal land rights remains difficult. Some argue these difficulties are a reason to turn away from state-led land reform and toward a market-assisted land reform (MALR) model. However, this paper indicates that a closer look at actual dynamics around land reform in the Philippines suggests that political-legal problems associated with implementation of the 1988 agrarian reform law can be overcome under certain conditions.

The author argues that rural poor claimants must be able to access support for political-legal mobilisation, particularly “rights-advocacy organisation”, and they must adopt an integrated political-legal strategy. This will help push existing constitutional-juridical openings and institutional reforms in favour of land redistribution. An integrated political-legal strategy is one should be able to activate State agrarian reform law, building on independent State actors’ pro-reform initiatives, and resisting the evasive manoeuvres of anti-reform elites.

[adapted from author]

The Movement of the Landless (MST) and the juridical field in Brazil

16 Aug 2006 11:00:00 GMT

This working paper focuses on the Movement of the Landless (MST) and the various legal strategies used to redefine property law in Brazil. Through a number of legal strategies MST has helped produce watershed high court rulings, contributed to the process of constitutionalising law, and made access to land more equitable in parts of Brazil by redefining property rights in practice.

The paper explores legal change triggered by the strategic action through what Bourdieu calls the juridical field (relating to the function and administration of the judicial system). The author argues that MST has been successful in pushing forward legal change through this field for two broad reasons:

  • the MST’s ability to concentrate the talents of diverse juridical actors on defending its claims has made it an important catalyst for legal change through the juridical field. The movement’s ability to mobilise highly skilled legal talent has been built by mobilising across multiple fields, not just the juridical
  • the MST in the 1990s had new opportunities to set juridical modalities of change in motion because of a number of favourable changes in both the movement and juridical fields. These changes were related to the transition to democracy and the rising prominence of the Workers’ Party, and to changes within the transnational religious field in which the diverse institutions of the Catholic Church hold a dominant position

The analysis finds that the MST’s sustained engagement with the juridical field has set a number of modalities of legal change in motion that redefined important legal terrain on property rights and civil disobedience. It also produced substantial social results. The movement’s ability to convert movement energy into juridical energy, and to mobilise across multiple fields, has played a central role in setting these modalities of legal change in motion.

The MST’s juridical mobilisation sheds light on some of the ways in which social movements can use the law to create countervailing possibilities to the particular “liberal” property regime that is being globalised from above. It has played a substantial role in altering a highly exclusionary legality by compelling public authorities to implement existing agrarian reform legislation and by helping to create and institutionalise novel interpretations of the social function of property.

Policies and practices for securing and improving access to land

01 Jun 2006 11:00:00 GMT

This paper reviews recent policy and practice to secure access to land for poor people. Emphasis is on Africa, Latin America and Asia, while reference also is made to Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Despite the widely different observations from the various places, the paper identifies some general trends and challenges. These include:

  • pressure on land is set to increase over future decades, given the impact of continued population growth, urbanisation, globalisation of markets, and climate change;
  • as resources become scarcer and more valuable, those with weak rights to the resource tend to lose out.

    The paper argues that addressing land access and tenure security for these groups is crucial for social justice, sustainable livelihoods, political stability and peaceful co-existence. Secure land rights are also important for promoting rural development as it helps create conditions that encourage local and foreign investments. These issues should therefore be at the forefront in policy dialogue, PRSPs, macroeconomic policy at national level, and in the MDGs at the global level.

    While lessons can be shared between countries, the land reform agenda must be driven and owned by the individual country. Effective reform of land and property rights to support the livelihoods of the poor also requires sustained, long-term, commitment from governments and development agencies. Successful land reforms depend upon the exercise of strong political power allied to land reform movements, jointly prepared to challenge resistance by vested land interests. Capable and well-informed civil society organisations also play an important role in informing, and providing checks and balances on government decision-making and the development and implementation of land policy. Finally, a shortage of skilled personnel in government agencies, and lack of legal awareness amongst the general public combine to render land administration services largely inaccessible for ordinary people.

    The paper outlines a number of tools needed for securing land rights for the poor and vulnerable. These include:

    • support for democratic land institutions and land information systems that are decentralised, problem centred and open to public scrutiny;
    • effective links between new institutions and existing local mechanisms for managing land;
    • improved systems for resolving land disputes, including formal, alternative dispute resolution and customary procedures.

A note on food security and land tenure security in Lesotho

01 Jun 2006 11:00:00 GMT

In this note of food security and land tenure security in Lesotho, the authors present arguments in favour of the enactment and implementation of a legislation in Lesotho that will enhance land tenure security in the country. Some of the arguments include:

Tenure insecurity is not the primary constraint on the contribution that farming can make to food security in Lesotho, but:

  • women’s access rights and widow’s tenure security are inadequate
  • more secure access to additional land for a minority of better-resourced and more-productive farmers could contribute more to aggregate food security
  • arable tenure security and land use are currently impaired by confused interim arrangements for land administration and land reform laws
  • community-based natural resource management structures need to be reinforced by clearer communal tenure security and administrative arrangements.

Tenure insecurity is a primary constraint on the general economic growth in other, non-farm sectors on which food security in Lesotho increasingly depends:

  • insecurity of urban and peri-urban land access and rights is a threat to food security
  • women’s insecure access to land in urban and peri-urban settings needs to be addressed
  • the economy cannot prosper and food security not assured, unless people can invest securely in land improvements and productive land uses
  • policies securing the land rights of the poor will become increasingly important with the increased mobilisation, specialisation and incorporation of rural areas into market economies
  • bank loans for investments require collateral underwritten by land tenure security
  • land disputes aggravates tenure insecurity of the land
  • tenure security is inadequately protected by laws when people are deprived of their land by the state.

The authors conclude that the enactment and implementation of this legislation will make an essential contribution to the nation’s food security.

Gender and land compendium of country studies

11 May 2006 11:00:00 GMT

This compendium provides an improved understanding of the complex issues concerning gender and land. It draws on research commissioned by FAO. The authors argue that hunger and poverty are, in general, consequences of inadequate and restricted access to land and other resources, such as capital, inputs and technology; women are among those with less access to land, while accounting for a large share in small-scale food production.

Rights to land, especially women’s rights to land, are determined by a complex interaction between the institutions, and underlying power relations, of a society. The paper pinpoints what these are in general, with illustrations from case studies. Drawing on this background, the analysis demonstrates the various ways in which women are constrained in obtaining and enforcing their land rights. Finally, women’s land access experiences in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia are summarised to provide referents from which women’s development in the future can be considered.

The document considers various issues surrounding land and gender including:

  • customary institutions and gender relations
  • traditional marriage practices as determinants of women’s land rights in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Brazil and the legal status of women in the context of agrarian reform
  • women’s access to land in Nicaragua

The local politics of land and water: case studies from the Mekong Delta

19 Apr 2006 11:00:00 GMT

This document takes a historical view of the relations between individual and collective actors in local water management in the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam. It identifies and analysis the genesis and operation of institutional arrangements, forms of organisation, rules, and standards and contracts regulating access to natural resources, in particular water and land, in a context of agrarian colonisation and progressive anchorage of the State.

Emphasis is placed among other things on conflicts, why they emerged or did not emerge, the players involved, regulation modalities, and the role of the authorities in arbitrating disputes. The analysis of these process is done through an exploration and understanding of farming logics, changes and innovations in agricultural activity systems, and the insertion of forms of agriculture in a network of social and economic ties with entrepreneurs providing agricultural services. Beyond this, this document situates these analyses in the larger framework of the evolution of Vietnamese agricultural policies and evaluates their real weight in the various national ruptures in the local political economy (colonisation, Vietnam war, south-Vietnamese regimes, unification) and the decisive stages of the national agricultural policy and land tenure reform.

The document is available for download from the GRET website in 3 separate parts.

Agrarian reform in the context of food sovereignty, the right to food and cultural diversity: “land, territory and dignity”

30 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Through an analysis of the right to adequate food and the right to land, this civil society report, argued that achieving food sovereignty requires agrarian reform. The paper therefore calls for a new redistributive land reform that recognises indigenous territories and respects and balances the needs of diverse rural peoples.

Highlighting territory as a more inclusive and important concept than just land, the authors emphasise that redistributive land reform in the context of food sovereignty must be designed through processes in which local communities take leadership, and which address the needs and demands of diverse groups. The paper defines the policies required for agrarian reform and rural development to truly contribute to poverty reduction, environmental protection, and the enhancement of broad based economic growth, and also explains the fundamental pillars of food sovereignty.

Arguing for an original and genuine agrarian reform, backed by the right to adequate food and food sovereignty, the paper suggests that the following might be useful guidelines for achieving this:

  • internationally recognised legal instruments support calls for genuine agrarian reform, food sovereignty, and the rights to territory and self determination
  • when families receive land they must not be saddled with heavy debt burdens
  • secure tenure and/or access rights are critical to ensuring long term food security for families and communities. Without this, it is difficult to invest in land improvement, means of production, and conservation measures
  • women must have the right to hold title to land
  • redistributed land must be of good quality, rather than ecologically fragile soils which should never be farmed, and it must be free of disputed claims by other poor people
  • the rights of indigenous and other peoples to land and common property resources must be guaranteed and protected, as must their right to manage them using customary law and tradition
  • there must be a supportive policy environment and essential services like credit on reasonable terms, infrastructure, support for ecologically sound technologies, and access to markets and fair prices
  • damaging free trade policies and dumping should be replaced by a food sovereignty perspective which places the highest priority on national production for national markets
  • the power of rural elites must be effectively broken by the reforms
  • the vast majority of the rural poor must be beneficiaries of the reform process
  • successful reforms are distinguished from failed ones by a motivation that new small family farms are the centerpiece of economic development, rather than a 'welfare' mechanism
  • strong grassroots movements are critical to pushing the reform process.

Land rights for African development: from knowledge to action

28 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

This collection of briefing papers summarises select papers presented at the workshop: "Land Rights for African Development: From Knowledge to Action" held in November 2005. The workshop addressed key land tenure issues in Africa that influence food security, environmental sustainability, agricultural intensification, conflict, peace building and broader rural development.Issues covered by the 12 briefing papers contained in this collection include: the prevalence and importance of customary tenurethe prevalence and importance of common property arrangementsconstraints to women’s access under both customary and statutory tenurethe need to secure common property and other forms of tenurethe importance of broad based participation to secure broad consensus among multiple actors in order to enhance the efficiency, equity and sustainability objectives of land tenure reforms.The briefing papers also reflect on the innovations necessary for securing tenure for the poor under a variety of settings. These innovations include:adjusting received law to customary norms and rules of land holding and access, as opposed to outright replacing customary tenurealtering lending rules by banks and financial institutions to promote land-related investments (even on land regulated by customary and/or religious law)de-emphasising the notion of ownership and refocusing on use rights in order to secure women’s rights and accessrestructuring conventional land administration systems to support group-based rights structuresencouraging decentralised land management systems that reflect local cultural norms and practicesin situations of multiple, overlapping resource use, strengthening processes of negotiation and conflict resolution as opposed to a generic concern with substantive rights in order to secure the access of permanent and transitory resource users.A ten-step procedure is also suggested (Alden Wily), which would enable communities to restore their group rights and practices to create and control their own tenure norms. These innovations, while desirable, are also risky: corruption, elite capture, exclusion of "non-members" and lack of capacities have been hurdles faced by communities.Agreed outcomes from the workshop include the following:land tenure in Africa is complex: the existence of customary, religious and statutory arrangements (i.e. legal pluralism) is a critical, defining feature of African land tenure. Land tenure reform must accommodate this complexity rather than replace itthe pit-falls of formalisation should be avoided, and in particular tenure codification should be delinked from collateralisation: cheaper ways of registering rights than the cadastre are neededin order to effectively address land tenure security, power issues at local and national levels must be addressed: there is a need for a multi-level, multiple actor approach. Land tenure reform is an urgent governance issue that can best be addressed by all development partners in collaborationon evaluation: the implementation and impacts of land tenure reforms should be evaluated at multiple governance levels in order to identify constraints, craft solutions, and to ensure that reforms are securing the rights and livelihoods of women, the poor and marginalised groupson innovation: new innovations are needed over and above tinkering with existing possibilities. For instance, the development of centres for legal advice and assistance for both rural and urban dwellers may enable the poor to claim their rights and even challenge abuses of power.[...]

Tinkering on the fringes?: redistributive land reforms and chronic poverty in Southern Africa

10 Mar 2006 12:00:00 GMT

In Southern Africa, landlessness due to the asset alienation that occurred during colonial occupation has been acknowledged as one of several ultimate causes of chronic poverty. Land redistribution is often seen as a powerful tool in the fight against poverty in areas where a majority of people are rural-based and make a living mostly, if not entirely, off the land. This paper examines the nature and extent of land reform in Southern Africa, with a particular focus on its contribution to poverty reduction.

Clearly identifying the different types of land reform, the author examines the policy and practice in Namibia, Zimbabwe and South Africa. The analysis leads to the following conclusions:

  • despite political appetite for deracialising land ownership, there is little evidence to show a commitment to link this process to poverty reduction - in all three countries in question, policy rhetoric on land as a poverty-reducing asset often has not been supported with a serious commitment of resources
  • the quality of land provided and the terms of access both compromise the ability of beneficiaries to ensure a secure livelihood - in this sense, the current conceptualisation of land reform does little to reduce poverty
  • in all three countries there has been policy capture of land reform initiatives by members of the political and bureaucratic elite at the expense of the poor
  • all three countries demonstrate a reluctance to meaningfully reform customary forms of tenure - there is, however, growing evidence of commoditisation of land under such customary tenure that may not always work for poor households
  • there is a significant lack of good quality data at the country level for the systematic monitoring of the impact of land reform - monitoring and evaluation systems seem to emerge as afterthoughts.

The author concludes that, although some people have clearly benefitted greatly from land reform policies, there is no clear link between these policies and poverty reduction.

Can land registration serve poor and marginalised groups? summary report

27 Feb 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This report summarise the research findings of a project to examine the current processes of land rights registration in Ethiopia, Ghana, and Mozambique and assess their outcomes for poor and vulnerable groups. It examines the design and process of registration, the governance of those processes and the equity of the outcomes.

This research finds that land registration is not inherently anti-poor in its impacts and that the distributional consequences of land registration depend on the design of the process and on the institutions responsible for its management. Land registration systems, the authors argue, can be designed so as to address the risk of bias against poorer and marginalised groups. To protect and secure the land rights of these groups, attention should be paid to:

  • registration processes with regard to language used, registration fees, geographical accessibility
  • recognising and recording “secondary” land rights
  • establishing effective accountability and oversight mechanisms for the institutions implementing registration programmes
  • inclusive dispute settlement institutions

The study shows the need to avoid “one-size-fits-all” solutions and documents experience from a number of case studies from which the authors hope others will be able to learn.

This report forms part of a series of seven papers based on a research programme entitled “Securing Land Rights in Africa: Can land registration serve the poor?” led by IIED.

Land Registration in Tigray, Northern Ethiopia

27 Feb 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This case study assesses the strengths and weaknesses of a simple, inexpensive, village-based land registration system put in place between 1996 and 1998 in Tigray, Ethiopia.

The authors found that the system worked well and fairly - in large part due to it’s simplicity and low cost. Success also depended, however, on effective local governments which were able to prevent inequities from unforeseen shortcomings. At the same time, those same shortcomings are analysed and also serve as lessons: that the choice of a land description technology has consequences in use; that title is a legal conclusion that must be constantly updated to be reliable; that registering all the land of a household together under the name of the household head may lead to unnecessary recording problems and inequities when transactions, such as divorce, occur; and that intersections between registration systems (e.g., urban/rural, individual/community, small-holder/investor, cultivated/forested) may create problems. The report concludes that:

  • the Tigray process proves that land registration is not inherently anti-poor in its impacts
  • the distributional consequences of land registration will depend on the design of the process and governance of the institutions responsible for its management
  • land registration procedures can be elaborated which systematically address the risk of bias against poorer, more marginal groups, by considering:
    • registration fees
    • language used
    • recognition of secondary rights

Based on these findings certain continuity, and certain changes, are recommended.

This report forms part of a series of seven papers based on a research programme entitled “Securing Land Rights in Africa: Can land registration serve the poor?” led by IIED.

Land Registration in Eastern and Western Regions, Ghana

27 Feb 2006 12:00:00 GMT

Assesses the process of rural land registration in Ghana and its outcomes for poor and marginalised groups.

In Ghana, deeds registration has been in place since colonial times, and enables right holders to record their land transactions. However, very little rural land has actually been affected by this registration process. The research shows a general lack of awareness of the registration process among the majority of cash and food crop farmers. High monetary and transaction costs and a long and cumbersome process also constrain use of deeds registration. As a result, while farmers in both Western and Eastern Regions increasingly make use of written documents to secure their transactions, very few bother to register those documents with the deeds registry.

On the other hand, deeds registration is commonly used by agribusiness, and by mining and timber companies acquiring interests in land. In other words, while the deeds registration system seems to cater for the needs of medium to large-scale enterprises, it does not respond to the needs of small holders. The ongoing land administration reform programme needs to address these issues in order to establish institutions and processes that secure the land rights of poorer and more vulnerable groups.

This report forms part of a series of seven papers based on a research programme entitled “Securing Land Rights in Africa: Can land registration serve the poor?” led by IIED.

Land registration and women’s land rights in Amhara Region, Ethiopia

27 Feb 2006 12:00:00 GMT

Assesses the ongoing land registration process in the Amhara Region and its outcomes for women. The paper finds that while land policy and registration procedures aim to guarantee women’s access to land, practice on the ground suggests more needs to be done to support women’s rights in the implementation process.

Land registration, initiated in 2003, stipulates that both spouses should be named on the certificate. However, research findings in one-third of all kebeles in Amhara, found that only 39 per cent of the plots was registered under joint title, while 29 per cent was under female holding (including many female headed households), and 33 percent registered with men. Married women therefore continue to be denied joint titling. Most local land administration committees were only composed of men and local leaders and government officials had not promoted women’s participation. However, where women were part of committees, they were active in protecting women’s rights, particularly of women who were vulnerable and lacked family support or social networks.

This report forms part of a series of seven papers based on a research programme entitled “Securing Land Rights in Africa: Can land registration serve the poor?” led by IIED.

Land registration in Nampula and Zambezia provinces, Mozambique

27 Feb 2006 12:00:00 GMT

Assesses the process of rural land registration in Mozambique and the outcomes for poor and marginalised groups. The research finds that community land registration, under the 1997 land law, can strengthen community rights to use and benefit from their land in relation to outsider interests in land. However, intra-community and intra-household land rights are not addressed, since it is only community land boundaries which are registered. The relatively centralised and complex registration procedures means that smallholder farmers are heavily dependent on NGOs to facilitate the process, which raises issues of continuity and sustainability. Individual registration of land is possible too, but is mainly taken up by private investors and companies. There are some serious shortcomings in this process: community consultations, required by law, are often inadequate and there is little supervision to ensure that compulsory land development plans produced by investors are implemented in practice. These issues will need to be tackled in order to for rural land registration be really pro-poor in practice.

This report forms part of a series of seven papers based on a research programme entitled “Securing Land Rights in Africa: Can land registration serve the poor?” led by IIED.

Land registration in Maputo and Matola Cities, Mozambique

27 Feb 2006 12:00:00 GMT

Assesses the process of land registration in peri-urban areas of Mozambique and its outcomes for poor and marginalised groups. The research finds that there is little awareness of land registration processes on the part of low-income groups. The ‘individual’ registration process is slow and bureaucratic with high transaction costs and corrupt practices on the part of state institutions. Unlike the case of rural land, specific regulations governing the use of urban land are not yet in place. Some farmer associations have used community registration processes to secure their land rights but high levels of organisation and persistence are required to do so. Individual registration is beyond the means of low-income households and mainly serves high income, well connected groups and private companies. This situation is exacerbated by active informal land markets which are transforming peri-urban land use. There are real concerns that farmers, and low-income groups in general, may be losing access to land through registration processes which favour applicants who are well-connected and wealthy. Regulations governing urban land, the simplification and dissemination of registration procedures and improved governance are required for land registration to serve the majority.

This report forms part of a series of seven papers based on a research programme entitled “Securing Land Rights in Africa: Can land registration serve the poor?” led by IIED.

Kinship, transaction costs and land rental market participation

25 Feb 2006 12:00:00 GMT

With land being the main source of income for many people in the developing world, security of access or ownership rights is imperative to the alleviation of rural povety. Past polices of land redistribution, prohibition of land renting and later legalisation of short-term contracts only, may have prevented or undermined tenancy markets in Ethiopia. This paper examines the allocative efficiency of the land rental market in Northern Ethiopia, and the extent to which adjustment in the tenancy market is constrained by transaction costs. Attention is also paid to the extent to which kinship ties may influence and transaction costs.

The main findings of this study include:

  • tenants face lower access constraints in villages with high prevalence of kinship contracts
  • there is a large variation in the extent of participation in the land rental market across the 16 surveyed villages
  • variation in local leadership may contribute to the local variation in how the market functions
  • additional research should focus on explaining this variation and how new policies granting more secure rights and allowing more long-term leasing contracts may affect the efficiency of the land rental market, and the consequent impacts on land use efficiency and management.

Land tenure reform and gender equality

16 Feb 2006 12:00:00 GMT

This brief explores the reform of land tenure institutions which re-emerged in the 1990s, and asks if these reforms are any more gender sensitive than those of the past?

The paper highlights that a focus of the recent reforms has been on land titling, designed to promote security of tenure and stimulate land markets. The reforms have often been driven by domestic and external neoliberal coalitions, with funding from global and regional organisations which have argued that private property rights are essential for a dynamic agricultural sector. However, democratic transitions, though often fragile, have opened up new possibilities for agrarian reform, placing inequalities in land distribution back on national agendas. The involvement of social movements, including women’s movements, and their domestic and international allies has been the other hallmark of recent policy debates on land.

The research finds that the new generation of land tenure reforms is not necessarily more gender equitable than earlier efforts, even though women’s ability to gain independent access to land is increasingly on the statutes.

In particular, the findings show that:

  • in recent years, multilateral agencies have supported gender equality goals. At the same time, they have been influential in advising governments on how to pursue a market-driven land reform programme. These two goals are in tension, especially in terms of their impacts on low-income women
  • policy makers in national and international agencies need to be vigilant about the kinds of informal community-based institutions that are being legitimised and strengthened as appropriate decision-making forums for dealing with land. A key area for policy attention is how to strengthen and democratise these institutions to deliver social and gender justice
  • there has been concern about the ways in which “traditionalist” discourses and “customary” practices are frequently used to deprive women of equal rights. However, criticism of customary tenure should not lead to the oversimplified conclusion that land markets are a gender- neutral terrain
  • there is recognition about the limitations in law as a vehicle for social change, acknowledging that there may be enormous resistance to equitable practices.

[adapted from author]

Agriculture and poverty in South Africa: can agriculture reduce poverty?

10 Jan 2006 12:00:00 GMT

Poverty and income inequality persist in South Africa despite efforts to eliminate them. Poverty is more pervasive in rural areas, particularly in the former homelands: the majority (65 percent) of the poor are found in rural areas and 78 percent of those likely to be chronically poor are also in rural areas. This paper investigates the role that smallholder agriculture plays in alleviating poverty and discusses how this role can be enhanced.

The paper begins by presenting some theoretical aspects of agriculture’s contribution to poverty alleviation drawing on literature on agricultural and rural development. Next, the role played by smallholder agriculture in improving livelihoods in South Africa is investigated. The author discusses government initiatives aimed at promoting smallholder agricultural development. These include land reform, agricultural credit, infrastructure and comprehensive farmer support services. Finally, the issue of what needs to be done to maximise agriculture’s contribution to poverty alleviation is addressed. Suggestions include:

  • investing in the ‘prime movers’ of agricultural development through human capital, agricultural research, biophysical capital formation, and rural institutions
  • drawing on lessons from global experience, particularly from Asia’s green revolution – the main elements of which included physical infrastructure, technological innovation and diffusion, fertiliser and chemical application
  • production of high value added products such as animal products, horticulture and beverage crops
  • strengthening farm/non-farm linkages

The paper concludes that promoting smallholder agricultural growth can be an effective strategy to reduce rural poverty and income inequality. However, while agriculture plays a major role in poverty alleviation, the poverty problem in South Africa cannot be solved by promoting smallholder agricultural growth alone. More attention should also be given to the promotion of nonfarm activities. A strategy that pays attention to the strengthening of farm/nonfarm linkages is likely to yield better results in terms of employment and income generation.

Some outstanding issues in the debate on external promotion of land privatisation

04 Jan 2006 12:00:00 GMT

Since the early 1990s, the dominant consensus in the debate on land rights reform in sub-Saharan Africa has been that external interventions to privatise land rights are usually inappropriate and likely to remain so. This article suggests that two elements in the debate - the scope for varying adjudication criteria, procedures and support systems in order to enhance equity, and the influence of a region's agro-ecological and socioeconomic characteristics on the impacts of tenure change – merit further attention.

Drawing on illustrative evidence from eastern Kenya, the article urges a shift towards a more pragmatic approach, sensitive to the diversity of both physical and socio-economic conditions within which tenure systems operate. The results suggest, among others, that in countries with a diversity of land-use systems and agronomic potential, uniform impacts from privatisation across regions are unlikely. As a result, whether and in what form privatisation is appropriate is likely to vary. National land policies should ideally contain sufficient flexibility to allow for variation in the form and timing of privatisation across regions. The examples of both unpredicted outcomes of privatisation and outcomes which have not been based on the assumed underlying causal relationships, each indicate a need for further region-specific research. [adapted from author]

Learning about urban development from the street

09 Dec 2005 12:00:00 GMT

Local entrepreneurs drive development in deprived neighbourhoods. Small-scale actions – rather than abstract urban planning by officials – are most effective. Planners should start observing street life and begin to understand that everyday practice and local enterprises can, with a little outside help, be scaled up to improve poor urban people’s lives.

Connecting economies: agrarian reform and rural poverty in South Africa

09 Dec 2005 12:00:00 GMT

The economy of post-apartheid South Africa continues to grow. Yet between 45 and 55 percent of the population remain in poverty. This inequality is most obvious in rural areas, where over 70 percent of poor people live. Policymakers are increasingly recognising the importance of rural land reform to poverty reduction.

Land reform and food security issues in Angola and South Africa

08 Dec 2005 12:00:00 GMT

Effective and well-designed land reform policies can provide sustained contributions to economic growth, reduced social unrest and poverty. This study analyses land reform policies in Angola and South Africa with a view to assess its impact on food security. Both countries have introduced extensive land reform policies following histories of colonialism, occupation and oppression which displaced many people.

The paper begins with a background of South Africa and Angola and discusses the governments’ land reform policies. In South Africa, land reform was a key promise made by the African National Congress (ANC) when it gained power in 1994. The main intention of this promise was to reimburse the victims of apartheid oppression. In the Republic of Angola the government’s land reform policies are part of its strategy to rebuild the agricultural sector following civil war. Following on from this analysis, the nature of the agricultural sector in the two countries is discussed in terms of working conditions, employment, wages etc. Finally, the author assesses the extent of progress that the countries have made in implementing their land reform policies, and discusses the implication of this on food security.

Findings include:

  • in South Africa, land reform policies are aimed at facilitating the poor and disadvantaged in gaining access to land
  • the South African government also introduced policies that protect the rights of farm workers and their families living on the farms
  • implementation of the land reform process has been hindered in South Africa by a lack of funds available to the government to purchase land
  • in Angola, the government provided settlement for returnees and refugees as part of an agrarian policy to contribute to food security
  • farm workers and their families are not effectively protected by legislation in Angola, and high levels of illiteracy puts farmers in a disadvantaged situation as they do not understand their rights

The author concludes that in South Africa, land reform has no focus on the enhancement of food security. As a result, agricultural production of beneficiaries is still not sufficient to raise them out of poverty. In Angola, conversely, the government’s principle objective has been to promote the agricultural sector and almost 4 million people have benefited from the provision of land to start agricultural activities.

Supporting land reform in South Africa: participatory planning experience in the Northern Cape Province

27 Oct 2005 11:00:00 GMT

This paper documents a participatory approach for supporting black South Africans in developing knowledge and skills to use land, acquired under the land reform scheme, more effectively. This approach enables land reform groups to work jointly through a sequence of steps in order to develop and implement a land management plan.

The participatory planning method can be summarised into four main stages. First, the land reform group seeks to understand how the agricultural sector operates in its area, and identifies those agencies that provide technical and managerial support. Next, practical research is undertaken to provide information on the livelihoods of the group members, the various objectives of the group and the agricultural potential of the land. A committee develops a realistic management plan to pursue the objectives, taking account of the resource constraints. Finally, once the group as a whole has taken collective ownership of the plan, implementation starts, and the necessary technical and financial inputs must be secured. Finally, the outcomes of the plan will be monitored and evaluated against indicators generated and agreed by the group. The paper notes, however, that there is a lack of people with the required facilitation skills, which must be addressed.

Two key lessons learned from this experience are:

  • for the land reform programme to succeed, it is crucial that beneficiaries participate in preparing a realistic plan for their farms, of which the land reform group as a whole takes ownership
  • enough time must be allowed for the participatory planning process, with the time required in each case varying depending on the complexity of the group, the size of the farm and the range of group members’ objectives

Key experiences of land reform in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa

27 Oct 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Since 1994, the South African government has embarked on an ambitious land reform programme to redistribute and return land to previously disenfranchised communities. However, many black people lack the knowledge, skills and experience needed to manage their land. Furthermore, this paper finds that the way in which the government is implementing its land reform programme is constraining many of its beneficiaries from making agriculture a more important part of their livelihoods.

The paper finds that there is a need for the government to invest more heavily in the "pre-designation" phase of the land reform process. Frequently many of the problems experienced by land reform groups in the "post-designation phase" can be traced to issues that were inadequately discussed before the land was transferred, and often the problems are more difficult to resolve after the pre-designation phase leading to inefficient resource use.

The paper provides a number of conclusions and recommendations regarding changes to the pre- and post- designation parts of the process. For the pre-designation phase, these include:

  • broadening the programme so that it is able to address a much wider range of issues than is currently occurring. These should not be restricted to technical agricultural matters; they must also embrace social, organisational and management issues
  • the process should be made more inclusive, recognising that land reform beneficiaries have limited knowledge of agriculture and the risks and opportunities involved
  • the sometimes hidden objective of preventing beneficiaries from settling permanently on their land must be addressed.

A successful post-designation phase requires:

  • ensuring that all beneficiaries, not just the better off, are able to gain access to their farms at a reasonable cost
  • informing beneficiaries of their obligations to financial lenders and providing better access to the credit market
  • revisiting the logic of transferring large technically complex farms to black people who have few of the relevant assets required to manage farms of this nature
  • formulating a new model for land reform that allows the household, to start farming and providing a favourable institutional environment for expansion if they wish to make agriculture a more important part of their livelihoods.

[adapted from author]

Managing resources in erratic environments: an analysis of pastoralist systems in Ethiopia, Niger, and Burkina Faso

26 Oct 2005 11:00:00 GMT

This study analyses the links between risk and the kinds of property rights that have evolved to provide the mobility needed to raise livestock where rainfall fluctuates, and it evaluates the impact of cooperation on resource management in these environments.

Three interesting conclusions emerge from the analyses with respect to economic vulnerability and natural resource management in these environments.

  • there is little evidence of dramatic misuse of land resources by herders; rather, evidence suggests that overstocking, limited herd mobility, and encroachment of farmland on common pastures vary a good deal both within and across countries
  • stock densities are lower precisely in areas with very high rainfall variability, whereas herd mobility is strongly related to recent rainfall patterns
  • greater cooperative capacity significantly reduces grazing pressure on home resources

While it remains a challenge for policymakers to design and implement mechanisms to increase cooperative capacities, this research points to the scope for such action. [adapted from author]

State courts and the regulation of land disputes in Ghana: the litigants’ perspective

05 Oct 2005 11:00:00 GMT

This paper argues that Ghanaian litigants in land disputes favour authoritative state legal-institutions over out-of-court settlements. Current policy debates on how to protect the land rights of the majority of customary land holders revolve around the respective merits of customary and non-state regulation (said to be accessible, flexible and socially embedded) versus state systems, which are said to offer more certainty, impartiality and nondiscriminatory codes and procedures. In Ghana, customary and state legal codes have been integrated for some time, and the state courts (which are frequently used as first instance adjudicators) apply customary rules.

Drawing on interviews and surveys conducted within three state courts the following themes are considered:

  • the state and non-state regulation of land disputes in Ghana
  • why it is that people go to court
  • the background to court systems and their effectiveness in solving land disputes
  • problems and experiences associated with litigation, how 'user-friendly' the courts are

The author concludes that:

  • despite problems and time delays, an authoritative and enforceable settlement in a state court was favoured by litigants
  • litigants often had a positive view of the court process, viewing it as an essential part of establishing their land rights
  • the courts are not alien and inappropriate in rulings, as frequently supposed
  • judges were well respected and perceived as flexible and 'user-friendly' by litigants
  • litigants extreme reluctance to entertain out-of-court settlements casts doubt on the notion that proposals to move to more use of Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADRs) will be successful if they fail to offer equivalent authority, fairness and enforceability.

Land reform, agriculture and poverty reduction

08 Sep 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Most land-based livelihoods rely on having secure access to land, a precondition for sustainable agriculture, economic growth and poverty reduction. This working paper examines the state of knowledge with regard to aspects of land reform- redistributive reform, land tenure reform, and the issue of land markets. It also addresses issues that remain unknown in areas of land and social equity, land administration, and land tax.

Redistributive land reform aims to bring about an equitable distribution of land and the political power emanating from it. Past results have been less than impressive, and agrarian restructuring has been very slow.

Tenure reform, has been plagued by a failure to appreciate the complex and highly contested nature of land issues in post-colonial states. The paper notes that land policy reform is unlikely to have significant poverty reducing effects unless attention is paid to institutional capacity building.

Efficient transactions in land markets can encourage the transfer of land from less productive to more productive use, but excessive state regulation and bureaucracy are often the norm. Temporary transfers through land rental are an important redistribution mechanism. Rental markets- an important redistribution mechanism- have lower transaction costs and can help households deal with shocks or stresses without loss of productive assets.

What don’t we still know about land reform? The following pertinent questions remain:

  • what are the precise transmission mechanisms by which land reform contributes to poverty reduction?
  • what are the synergies and/or trade-offs between greater equality in land ownership and increasing agricultural growth for poverty reduction?
  • what kinds of land transfers can be carried out within land administration for improved growth and poverty outcomes in agriculture?
  • how do current land administration arrangements prevent land transfers for positive growth and poverty reduction?
  • what sorts of revised approaches to land administration are best, and how can they be designed and implemented?
  • what forms of land and production taxes are most likely to encourage increases in agricultural productivity?
  • how can land taxation systems be designed so they do not discourage investments by small-scale farmers, and under what circumstances is this appropriate?

Israel and the Occupied Territories: conflict, occupation and patriarchy, women carry the burden

10 Aug 2005 11:00:00 GMT

This report deals with the impact of violence against women in the Occupied Territories in the context of conflict, including violence committed by the Israeli state or its agents; the collapse of the rule of law within the Occupied Territories leading to a lack of implementation of existing laws; and the worsening effects of existing discrimination in both law and practice. This report highlights the gender related impact of violations committed by the Israeli forces in the context of conflict. It then looks at gender-based violence within the family and the impact of the militarization of the conflict by both sides on Palestinian women living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The report is part of the global Amnesty International campaign to Stop Violence Against Women. The campaign highlights the impact of gender-based and gender-related violence against women in conflict and in the family; and calls for states and communities to refrain from committing violence, prevent violence being committed by others and ensure that discrimination in law, custom and practice is ended. The report shows that the impact of the conflict on Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip has lead to widespread violations of their rights – both civil and political such as the right to life, liberty and security of the person as well as economic, social and cultural rights- such as the right to health, housing and education. It highlights some of the main violations to which women have been subjected in the context of increased political violence, combined with existing and heightened pressures they face in a patriarchal society.

Land tenure, land use and sustainability in Kenya: towards innovative use of property rights in wildlife management

03 Aug 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Examining the assumption that private property rights create incentives for the management of resources, this paper argues that private property rights and current wildlife conservation and management laws and policies in Kenya fail to provide the solution to wildlife biodiversity erosion. This is partly because of their preoccupation with a monolithic system of property ownership favouring the state and individuals and neglecting communities and/or groups.

The document includes sections on:

  • laws and policies relevant to wildlife management
  • property rights and sustainable wildlife management: a critique
  • rethinking property rights for wildlife management in Kenya
  • working around the limits of property rights: innovative use of propert rights sustainable wildlife management

Findings from the paper include:

  • there is a lack of sufficient incentives for sustainable wildlife management
  • there is a lack of legal framework for involvement of local communities in sustainable wildlife management
  • conservation was conceived as a process removed from people, especially the native Kenyans
  • the failure of colonialists to to appreciate the nature of the natives Kenyan's traditional rights led to undue disregard for those rights and this has affected the conceptions of property by the native Kenyans to this day
  • most laws and policies applicable to resource conservation in Kenya are formulated along the lines of specific sectors. Laws on propert rights and land use may run counter to those on wildlife management
  • besides the problem of systematic encroachment on wildlife habitats by other land-use categories, the present forms of wildlife utilisation also pose serious management problems.

The document suggests that in order for sustainable wildlife management to succeed, perceived benefits have to outweigh the benefits of building up the area, using the area as pasture land or cultivating it. Some ways in which conservation imperatives can be harmonised with the aspirations of rural communtites is through the chanelling of benefits derived from wildlife to such communities.

The human right to food in Guatemala

14 Jun 2005 11:00:00 GMT

This paper presents an analysis of the actions and omissions of the Guatemala State in respect to its obligations under the human right to food, and also refers to several paradigmatic cases of violations of the right to food within the context of the indigenous population and land and labour conflicts. This situation shows that the State of Guatemala has not managed to comply with either the obligations described in the Peace Agreements (the Agreement relating to the rights of the indigenous peoples and the socioeconomic Agreement), or the obligations of the international law in force in Guatemala in matter of the International Covenant of Economic, Social, and Economic Rights.

The paper makes a number of recommendations the state and the international community to put an end to the conflicts in the country, which include to establish rural development and food ensuring policies, including an integral agrarian reform that incorporates the proposals of the indigenous rural sector, and fulfilling the fundamental rights of the rural indigenous woman, particularly with respect to productive resources, reproductive health and political decision processes.

Exploring ecological and socio-economic issues for the improvement of area enclosure management: a case study from Ethiopia.

09 Jun 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Land degradation is a severe problem across sub-Saharan Africa, and Ethiopia is among the most affected countries. To stop further land degradation, the government of Ethiopia has initiated a number of projects including soil and water conservation works and the establishment of Area Enclosures (AEs) with the financial assistance of international donors, mainly the World Food Program (Betru, 2003). In spite of the impressive results of the ecological rehabilitation and improvements of productivity, many communities have had a bad experience with AEs in the past due to uncertainty and the lack of clarity of land tenure and public land use policy in the country. Due to these uncertainties, the communities did not have decision making power in the management and utilisation of the resources. In addition, they could not use grass and wood produced in the AEs. This study aims to develop guidelines to support the government in developing management plans with a clear land tenure and land use policy for the sustainable management of AEs. Field work was carried out in 4 Regional States: Tigray, Amhara, Oromya and Southern Nations and Nationalities and Peoples Region.

Detailed recommendations of the report cover a number of areas:

  • data on area enclosures
  • community interest and benefits from area enclosures
  • protection of AEs
  • management systems
  • participation
  • gender issues
  • membership to the AEs
  • grazing management
  • management of wildlife population
  • choice of tree species
  • management plans
  • institutional and policy issues
  • linkages and coordination
  • staff training
  • expansion of AEs?
  • further studies required

Land reform in South Africa:a 21st century perspective

05 Jun 2005 11:00:00 GMT

This document investigates the concept of land reform in South Africa and argues that there is a need to redefine 'land reform' to take account of the realities of an urbanising, modernising, economy. It analyses recent political developments on land issues and sheds light on the current process of land reform as well as agro-climatic, economic, budgetary constraints that impinge on the process. The authors come up with a number of broad conclusions bringing together political and practical realities related to the process :
  • since coming to power in 1994, the democratic government has pursued land reform in a considered, reasonable, and largely market-oriented manner, firmly rooted in the constitutional settlement on property rights and in the recognition that the righting of past wrongs, while essential, should not be allowed to damage future prospects. In recent months, however, this perspective has been under increasing pressure
  • Africa’s commercial agricultural sector is said to offer fewer and fewer opportunities for addressing unemployment, poverty, or inequality on a significant scale. White South Africans are moving out of farming because it is hard to make a reasonable living. Caution must therefore be taken not to set up poorer black South Africans for failure.
  • the deracialisation of commercial agricultural land is essential, but will not benefit primarily poor black South Africans; the benefits will mainly accrue to a small number of relatively better-off black land owners and potential farmers.
  • the government is struggling to meet its own political and developmental objectives with respect to land reform. In the process, it is raising expectations it cannot meet
  • land quality and location is more important than quantity. There is a need to understand that what you do with land is most important
  • rural land reform is difficult, slow, and expensive, and many black South Africans do not want land to farm.
  • the main focus of land reform should not be rural, except in identified areas of high demand for farm land. Urban and peri-urban land redistribution is the main future challenge.

The study identifies three ‘priority areas’ for land reform:

  • concluding the restitution process as speedily and effectively as possible, encouraging forms of compensation other than farmland
  • speeding up urban land release for settlement and the delivery of low-income urban and peri-urban housing
  • de-racialising the ownership of commercial agricultural land, and ‘normalising’ the countryside

The report calls for the formation of a high-level private sector task team to liaise with policy-makers, and help maximise the contribution of the private sector to land reform. [adapted from author]

Bringing equality home: promoting and protecting the inheritance rights of women

01 Jun 2005 11:00:00 GMT

In this report, the COHRE Women and Housing Rights Programme (WHRP) documents the fact that under both statutory and customary law, the overwhelming majority of women in sub-Saharan Africa (regardless of their marital status) cannot own or inherit land, housing and other property in their own right. Instead, in respect of access to land and housing, women are made entirely dependant on their relationship to a male.The paper reviews the legislation and administrative policies in relation to land, housing and inheritance rights in ten sub-Saharan African countries: Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Botswana, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.This review includes national constitutions, administration of estates acts, marriage and marital property acts, inheritance and succession laws, and land laws and policies. Where applicable case law is also examined. As far as is possible, it also provides an overview of customary law and traditions related to inheritance. The study highlights realities of women’s experience of inheritance rights denial using personal testimony and information from secondary sources. Using international human rights as the standard of measurement, the reports examines the laws and situations within each country and makes specific recommendations to the various country governments.The paper concludes that issues of women’s inheritance extend far beyond the crucial challenge of establishing the necessary legal frameworks that would allow women to own and inherit property. For in almost all ten sub-Saharan countries examined, the fact that women generally cannot rent, lease, own or inherit land and housing is not just the result of gender-biased statutory law; it is also due to discriminatory customary laws and traditions, as well as social norms and attitudes.In all the cases addressed in this report, women’s lack of security in the housing sphere stems from entrenched systems of gender discrimination, whether these systems be legal or normative, or a combination thereof. These discriminatory customary laws, traditions and cultural norms only serve to intensify and make more widespread the housing and inheritance rights abuses that are currently being faced by many millions of women in the region.Key recommendations for addressing the issue of discrimination against women in the housing sphere are outlined in detail in the paper, falling broadly into two categories:administrative and legal reforms: States should design and revise laws to ensure that women are accorded full and equal rights to adequate housing, and to own land, housing and other property, by means including the upholding and protection of inheritance rights. States should also undertake administrative reforms and other necessary measures to give women the same rights as men to credit, capital and appropriate technologies, as well as access to markets and informationactive engagement for positive change: States s[...]

Land tenure systems and their impacts on food security and sustainable development in Africa

24 Apr 2005 11:00:00 GMT

Recent food security crises in Africa have revived the debate on whether current land tenure systems constrain farmer innovation and investment in agriculture. Both direct and indirect linkages between land tenure and food security have been suggested. This study aims for a better understanding of these linkages. Specifically it aims:to improve the current understanding of the linkages between land tenure systems, food security and sustainable natural resource management in Africato assess the current land tenure policy reforms in selected African countriesto draw lessons based on best practices as well as failures of ongoing and past policiesto make policy recommendations to assist States in addressing issues of land reform implementation and hence improve their food security situation and the stewardship of natural resources.The paper suggests that land is central in promoting rural livelihoods in Africa. Access to land and security of tenure are the main means through which food security and sustainable development can be realised because the livelihoods of over 70% of the population in Africa are primarily linked to land and natural resources exploitation.The paper presents a number of models developed to explore the complex linkages between different types of tenure. The authors develop their view that with some local variation, the legacy of colonial land policies in Africa has led to existing forms of customary land tenure being either ignored, overridden or reformulated for the convenience of the colonising power. These then create new and artificial class and ethnic divisions amongst the indigenous populations. They conclude that it is the resultant dual, unequal and hierarchical system of land tenure that present land reform initiatives seek to redress. However those reforms that have been implemented have largely been inadequate and have been fraught with tensions between user groups and different land-uses.Other findings include: unequal land distribution is closely linked to poor utilisation of land which in turn is linked to food insecurity and conflicttenure insecurity arises from rapid socioeconomic change disrupting customary institutions and from excessive government interference in customary tenure systems. It is pervasive among women under all tenure systemsrapid population growth remains a key trigger of the chain of environmental problems and de-facto tenure changes, development of (illegal) land markets, increasing encroachment of agricultural activity into marginal areas and the high incidence of conflicts over land and other natural resourceswhere security of tenure is weak in general, livelihoods can be constrained. Thus tenure remains key for improving land management practicesrecent land tenure policy reforms that have been developed from more participatory processes, are more comprehensive in scope, and have generally affirmed more rights for individual citizens and [...]

Land tenure in drylands: summary of e-conference discussion

21 Apr 2005 11:00:00 GMT

This summary document provides a synthesis of the key issues and discussion points emerging from a four week online conference on the subject of land tenure in drylands.

The broad areas of discussion were as follows:

  • Drylands Tenure Policy. What are the contents and essential elements of Drylands Tenure Policies?
  • Strategies for implementing land tenure reform in drylands. What can we learn from drylands experiences?
  • Land policy dialogue and participation. How to foster the participation of multiple interests
  • Scaling-Up, replication and innovations

The e-conference was organised by FRAME, ILC, UNDP and CAPRI in April 2005. The online conference further developed themes which emerged from an event in Nairobi earlier in the year which addressed the same issue.

Access to land, growth and poverty reduction in Malawi

17 Apr 2005 11:00:00 GMT

After four decades of agricultural-led development strategies in the postindependent Malawi, economic growth has been erratic and a large proportion of the population live below the poverty line and studies suggests that the poverty situation has worsened. Agricultural policies favoured large-scale (estate) production at the expense of smallholder farmers who account for more than 80 percent of households. Smallholder farmers face several constraints including landlessness and small land holdings and declining agricultural productivity.This study argues that past agricultural strategies have been less successful because they ignored the land question among smallholder farmers. Access to land via agricultural production is one of the important factors that can translate growth to poverty reduction. For agricultural based strategies to be pro-poor in Malawi, land redistribution or resettlement programme for the landless or near landless should be central and a pre-condition for the effectiveness of pro-poor growth strategies in agriculture. The econometric results of the study show that access to land reduces the probability of being poor; prevents the poor from falling into poverty; and helps the non-poor to remain non-poor. Since customary land is not marketable, the link between access to land and poverty is via the growth in agricultural production. Pro-poor growth strategies in agriculture are likely to be ineffective in reducing poverty unless land reform is taken as a basic precondition of other pro-poor agricultural strategies in the Malawian PRSP. Opportunities for land reforms, particularly those that can increase access to land for the landless or near landless, do exist with the resulting poor performance of estate agriculture. The problem of ethnicity in estate ownership is less relevant in Malawi, and some estates have been abandoned and other estate owners are offering their estates for sale. In addition, there is high willingness among smallholder farmers to participate in a community based rural land development programme. However, government has been slow in taking advantage of these opportunities due to resource constraints, the donor dependence of the land reform programme and the low priority accorded to land reform in the poverty reduction strategies. When funds do become available to implement a land redistribution programme it will be important to ensure that the process of beneficiary selection is clear and transparent, embracing the active participation of communities and that the programme need to place the whole rural development context into perspective both in the resettlement and emigration areas. Ensuring that land redistribution is accompanied by complementary policies (such as promotion of land use, extension services, easing the credit and capital constraints and basic infrastructure that is conducive to agr[...]

Investment in land, tenure security and area farmed in northern Mozambique

23 Mar 2005 12:00:00 GMT

The analysis of land investment and tenure security usually assumes land scarcity. However, some developing countries have communities with land abundance. This article therefore examines the effects of land abundance for investment and tenure security. The author finds that in contrast to the literature, area farmed is a determinant of investment and tenure security. However, no link exists between investment and tenure security. These findings have strong implications for rural development policy in land abundant communities.

These findings have potentially serious implications for the design of rural development policies in land abundant tropical agriculture. Rather than the modification of formal land rights regimes, agricultural development may benefit from:

  • removing social and institutional inequalities in land access
  • capitalising households with assets
  • encouraging credit and labour markets
  • generally reducing market access barriers at the household and community levels

Most importantly, the authro states, available land could be more effectively used with less uncertainty, more asset endowments and less social discrimination (especially against women). Under such a scenario, and in strong contrast to findings from land scarce areas, the area farmed and hence farm output could rise significantly without resorting to intensive production techniques.

Who should own Indonesia’s forests? Exploring the links between economic incentives, property rights and sustainable forest management

04 Mar 2005 12:00:00 GMT

Indonesia’s forests have been disappearing rapidly since the 1980s: 1.8 million hectares per year are estimated to have been deforested between 1985 and 1997. Consequently, there is a possibility that in some areas, the forests will cease to function as a viable resource base in the near future.

This paper examines the role of economic incentives in causing deforestation, focussing on policies that distort prices and create the conditions for unsustainable harvesting. It reviews theoretical approaches to the economics of resource use and analyses the ways in which Indonesian government policy affected the incentives of the various stakeholders.

It argues that:

  • government interventions such as restrictions on log exports and tax concessions to processing industries encouraged the expansion of wood processing industries in Indonesia and resulted in unsustainable levels of deforestation
  • large-scale land conversion for commercial purposes, such as the development of oil palm plantations, were responsible for accelerating deforestation in the 1990s
  • uncertain tenurial arrangements and property rights, unenforceable contractual obligations, and weak monitoring and enforcement by the government exacerbated this situation
  • the forest management system does not provide efficient structures of control rights to any of the sector’s many stakeholders
  • as the state exerts sole control rights over most forested area in the country, other stakeholders depending on incomes from the forests have only limited control rights over their livelihoods
  • the lack of well-defined property rights prevented stakeholders from being able to trade their control rights so as to improve the efficiency of forest management.

Considering directions for future research, the paper argues that, given the many unresolved land conflicts between local communities and government/private interests, research on the interaction between market-based and common property rights or community-based property rights regimes would be of particular importance.

The paper concludes by recommending that:

  • the charging system used by the government for access to the forests should be simplified
  • rigorous inspection and monitoring systems should be established
  • adequate forest resource accounting systems should be provided.

Lessons from the land reform movement in West Bengal, India

28 Feb 2005 12:00:00 GMT

The Indian state of West-Bengal saw two major turnarounds in its rural sector in the eighties. The growth rate of rice production jumped from 1.8 per cent during 1960-80 to 4.7 per cent during 1977-94, and rural poverty fell from 73 to 31 per cent between 1973 and 1999, greatly surpassing achievements of other Indian states.

This coincided with the 1977 election of a coalition of left-wing parties, led by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) or CPM, which held uninterrupted power for the following 26 years. The CPM instituted a series of major rural reforms guaranteeing heritable rights to sharecropping tenants; ensured better distribution of products between tenants and owners; and confiscated surplus landholdings from big land owners and distributed part of this to poor farmers. This was followed in 1985 by decentralisation of village power structures through a three-tier system known as panchayati raj.

This paper attempts to identify which factors were behind West Bengal’s rural success, using cross-section time-series pooled regressions on district-level data.

Its results suggest that:

  • the reforms guaranteeing heritable rights to sharecropping tenants had some effect in raising productivity of yield and led to increases in the use of irrigation, fertiliser, rural roads and labour
  • it appears to be economically optimal to accord heritable rights to 25 per cent of sharecropping households in a district: extending coverage beyond this level tended to mean that too many of the households included in the programme were too poor to afford other, complementary production inputs
  • the panchayat system created the right incentive and power structure to increase investment in land through better irrigation, rural roads, seeds, and higher labour use; this helped to improve yields by spreading the availability of these inputs
  • panchayats also played an effective role in mediating water disputes and ensuring a steady labour supply and minimum wages
  • weaknesses of the reforms included the neglect of wage demands of poor people other than sharecroppers, particularly agricultural labourers, and a lack of attention to gender inequality
  • the reforms also failed to ensure the state’s economy diversified into new crops and non-agricultural rural industries.

The paper concludes that the success of the West Bengal model depended on a number of historical and political factors specific to the state. However, it argues that at least some parts could usefully be emulated elsewhere, especially strengthening of the grass roots decision making process.

Allocation and tenure instruments on forest lands: a source book

18 Feb 2005 12:00:00 GMT

This book, prepared by the Philippine Environmental Governance Project, serves as a reference guide for field personnel in guiding communities, investors, local government units, private persons and other organisations desiring to apply for tenure instruments on forest lands.

The book covers all existing tenure and allocation agreements for the management and use of forest resources in forest lands. Agreements generally refer to long-term tenure instruments in forest lands with right of occupation. This material also features information on permits and licenses, which are generally short-term instruments where the holder is given the privilege to conduct developmental activities within the forest lands but without right of occupation. Each agreement and instrument is briefly described.and sample specimens of the various permits and instruments are provided so that the reader would know what they look like.

The authors hope to elevate the level of transparency in the system of allocating tenure and access rights to upland resources in the Philippines by facilitating access to this information, especially by the local stakeholders including local governments.

Chapters of the book include:

  • Introduction
  • Constitutional Bases for the Exploration, Development
  • Utilisation of Forest Resources
  • Authority/Source of Power in Allocation of Forest Lands
  • Agencies Tasked with Forest and Natural Resources Management
  • Allocation/Tenure Instruments
  • Licenses and Permits Issued for the Utilization of Forest Resources
  • Agreements and Permits Involving Forest Resources in Private Lands.

[adapted from author]

Land reform in Zimbabwe – good for poor black farmers?

10 Feb 2005 12:00:00 GMT

Zimbabwe’s fast-track land reform has had a bad press. Reports of violence and intimidation have obscured the reality that formal procedures used to settle black farmers in model villages bear a striking resemblance to earlier colonial procedures. Whilst colonial myths about African farmers as subsistence oriented and inefficient live on, evidence from south-eastern Zimbabwe suggests that the reforms have benefited some poor black farmers