Tag Archives: Landesa

Web-based education tool aims to mainstream land rights into international development thinking

by Anna Knox and Peter Veit

NB: This guest post was originally posted on Landesa’s Field Focus blog, and is cross-posted on TN with the kind permission of Landesa and the World Resources Institute. TN readers are advised of a number of other interesting recent postings on the Landesa blog, including a critique of the short-term thinking behind large-scale land acquisition in Africa, an analysis of the negative correlation between women’s land rights and domestic violence, and defenses of the virtues of small firms by Robert Mitchell and Bill Gates.

Regardless of what matters to you – access to education, universal food security, strengthening women’s rights, or a healthier environment – land rights plays a key role in achieving these goals.

When people have secure access to land, it can lead to:

  • Economic development through increased agricultural productivity,
  • Improved childhood nutrition,
  • Increased school attendance and investments in basic education,
  • Increased environmental stewardship,
  • Reduced potential for social instability and conflict,
  • Reduce vulnerability to domestic violence.

Focus on Land in Africa, a recently launched web-based tool focused on sub-Saharan Africa, aims to help policymakers and practitioners understand the links between land rights and critical development outcomes. Designed by World Resources Institute and Landesa as an online education tool, the site is interactive and uses slideshows, timelines, maps, videos and more in order to appeal to and engage users. Currently, the tool features lessons drawn from six sub-Saharan African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda. These lessons were developed with funding support provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. More countries will be featured as the tool grows.

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They know the solution – Land purchase programs for rural women in India

by Deborah Espinosa
This guest post was originally posted on Landesa’s Field Focus blog, which provides expert insight on the issues surrounding land rights and international development. Deborah Espinosa is a senior attorney and land tenure specialist.

She was one of at least 40 landless women who demanded to meet with us that day.  They had heard that we would be visiting their village to talk with women in self-help groups (SHG) who had participated in the Indira Kranthi Patham (IKP) Land Purchase Program, one of several programs that the Indian State of Andhra Pradesh was implementing.  She was determined that we hear her message. That day was one of the more difficult days of my career as a lawyer advocating for land rights for the world’s poorest.

The AP Land Purchase Program, which Landesa and RDI-India helped the State design, assisted landless women in organizing to negotiate with large landowners and purchase and subdivide agricultural land for themselves and their families.  From 2004 to 2009, 5,303 women paid US $604,418 (just over $100 each) to purchase 4,539 acres of farmland.  The women paid a total of 25% of the purchase price, 15% of which they borrowed.  The government subsidized the remaining amount.  For weeks, our team  had been traveling throughout the state, talking with formerly landless women whose lives had been transformed through the program.  Most of the women had owned the land for about four years, with titles to their land in their name alone.  State law permits only one name on the patta, or title, and the State required that the patta had to be in the name of the wife (if married) or a female head of household.

The women whom we interviewed reported significant benefits associated with shedding the “landless” cloak and becoming a full-fledged landowner.  They reported increased income and the ability to start saving, improvement in their family’s health due to having more food to consume and higher quality food, and the ability to access credit from banks and village moneylenders.  They also perceived an improvement in their family’s status within the community as evidenced by having better marriage opportunities for their children.  Although the women reported that there still was room for improvement on all fronts, for them, becoming a landowner had profound effects on their family’s welfare.

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Week in links – week 12/2011

The current march of historic events continues apace with the aftermath of the Sendai quake still causing headlines and a new chapter in the annals of R2P being written in the skies over Libya. Quite a few bits of less dramatic but very interesting HLP-related news as well, many detailed below.

Some interesting things coming up on TN as well – in addition to a number of individual guest-postings currently in the works, I am very excited to announce that Landesa has offered to periodically cross-post pieces from their excellent Field Focus blog. Look out for a debut piece early this week.

Turning to the news, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) just released their global overview for 2010. The conclusions are sobering, with a new rise in overall conflict-related internal displacement and the consolidation of a number of negative trends such as protracted displacement situations and displacement due to generalized violence (e.g. criminal activities as opposed to ordinary armed conflict).

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, recently submitted his annual report, this year with a plug for ‘agroecology’ – a cultivation technique identified by Mr. De Schutter after an “extensive review of the scientific literature” as most likely to help states “achieve a reorientation of their agricultural systems towards modes of production that are highly productive, highly sustainable and that contribute to the progressive realization of the human right to adequate food.” Kudos to Mr. De Schutter for sparing the rest of us the scientific literature and moving the debate over global agriculture in an interesting new direction.

In the wake of the triple catastrophe in Japan, the New York Times reports on how much of the affected coast was inhabited by elderly persons unlikely to rebuild. In the clinical terminology of climate change, the obvious question is whether the abandonment of many of these obliterated towns and villages will ultimately come to be seen as a form of adaptation to be replicated in other parts of the world. As the Times notes, it is hardly the first time the question has come up:

“We faced exactly the same question after Katrina,” said John Campbell, [a] visiting scholar at the University of Tokyo. “There was a big discussion about whether we should rebuild the Ninth Ward, since it was below sea level, and so on. In terms of economic rationality, it didn’t make any sense, really. But on the other hand, it’s where these people lived, and there were emotional reasons to do it.

Meanwhile the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) released its mid-term review, halfway through the ten year period envisioned for implementation of the Hyogo Declaration and Framework for Action. In an almost morbid quirk of timing, the document was released two days before the catastrophe in Japan, rendering its calls for greater attention to disaster risk eerily antiquated: “…the Hyogo Framework for Action is the world’s only blueprint for staving off losses caused by natural hazards, often overshadowed by news on losses from war, unemployment or inflation.” With all due respect to Col. Ghadafi’s current bout of attention-seeking, this shouldn’t be an issue now.

After quite a lot of coverage earlier this year, the renewed efforts to achieve land restitution in Colombia fell off TN’s radar somewhat. However, things seem to be moving forward – here, NPR reports on how some land has already been returned to displaced owners (it is unclear on what basis this has occurred) as well as on how restitution remains tied to broader agricultural reform goals.

Finally, having cited EurasiaNet earlier on the lengths gone to by Azerbaijan’s IDPs to avoid locally integrating in order to maintain their prospects for return, I have now found a companion piece on Transitions OnLine on how far Armenians in contested territories will go in order to maintain their competing claims:

The people here acknowledge that life in villages is difficult and boring, especially when there is no electricity. But they persevere. “This land needs to be tended,” Khachatryan says. “My children have to plant trees, harvest crops, and have children here to understand this is the homeland and it needs to be kept,” Khachatryan says, lighting the oil lamp with care.

Week in links – Week 3/2011

– Preliminary results of the referendum in southern Sudan indicate an overwhelming majority in favor of secession after a surprisingly orderly process. The potential for serious violence in Abyei appears to be the main cloud on the horizon, with Foreign Affairs highlighting a worrisome link with the ongoing conflict in Darfur. A further aspect of the Abyei dispute that has gotten less attention in the mainstream press (but is well reflected in humanitarian reports such as OCHA’s latest bulletin) is the fact that its location not only invites conflict over oil and grazing land, but also constitutes a significant choke point for North to South return movements:

Organized returns have been suspended since 9 January, as a result of a series of security incidents involving returnees from northern to southern Sudan. Small convoys of spontaneous returnees have continued, with some reports of continued harassment and obstruction along the journey in Southern Kordofan and Abyei. Another convoy was reportedly shot at on 17 January in Abyei. Security incidents come despite a 13 January agreement reached between traditional leaders of the Misseriya and Ngok Dinka to cease hostilities and allow safe passage of returnees.

– The institute formerly known as RDI has departed the terse world of beltway bandit-style acronyms and re-fashioned itself as Landesa, in an unusually lyrical reference to the fact that LANd so often determines DEStinies. Its transformation has been accompanied by the founding of a promising blog on land and development issues.

– The initial posts in the Landesa blog include a considered response to a recent New York Times article on the effects of the global land rush in Africa, which itself draws on last September’s World Bank report on the topic.

– Landesa also blogs on the destabilizing effects of feudal land relations in Pakistan. Pakistan’s failure to reform its highly inequitable land relations were a rallying point for the Taliban in their bid to take over the Swat Valley, with the ironic result that the success of the Army’s campaign to retake the area was determined by whether large landholders could be convinced to return and recreate the inequitable conditions that fueled the insurgency.

– And finally, on a non-HLP vein, a wonderfully concise summary by Tihomir Loza in Transitions OnLine of the so-near-and-yet-so-far state of Bosnian ethnic politics.