Land is an essential economic and cultural resource for the world’s most vulnerable people.
Secure tenure is linked to multiple Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 1, 2, 5, 12, 16) and acts as a fundamental safety net and basis for empowerment, by providing shelter, food and income. Yet, formal recognition of land rights globally is lacking. Customary tenure, a key land and natural resource access route for more than 2 billion people globally, is often subject to land grabbing and exploitation. Globally, women own significantly less land than men, in developing countries as little as 10-20% of total land parcels.
“In countries where local land rights are not clearly defined and governance issues observed, large-scale land acquisition raises particularly high risks for smallholder farmers and local communities who can lose access and control of their land and forest resources and, consequently, their livelihoods.”
– Kate Rickersey, LEI Managing Director and former MRLG Team Leader
There is a direct relationship between secure access to land and economic empowerment, food security, climate resilience, soil conservation, health, education and access to water and basic services. Women with secure land rights are better able to save, often reinvesting financial gains into household nutrition, education and health. Secure land rights encourage long-term investments in land and property, that may protect against and mitigate future climate effects. Communities able to have their rights documented and recognised are better able to protect natural resources and lobby for greater access to services, such as electricity, water and sanitation.
LEI understands the needs and challenges of ensuring the rights of vulnerable and minority groups are recognised and protected. But more than this, we realise such groups are frequently left out of planning and decision-making spaces. The social context of land means early awareness raising and diverse, meaningful participation are essential to community benefit and ownership.
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We work hard to ensure culturally and socially appropriate reforms are achieved through local engagement in the design phase. This early engagement ensures awareness of and respect for cultural norms, resulting in project implementations that can be readily adopted by community users. Where possible, we identify and promote local partnerships to increase cooperation, participation and sustainability from the ground up.