Innovations et Réseaux pour le Développement
Development Innovations and Networks
Innovación y redes para el desarrollo

  • img
  • img
  • img
  • img

Securing Land Rights in Africa

Across the continent, insecure rights to land are robbing millions of financial stability and long-term prosperity. While new technology is giving people the tools to define what’s theirs, governments must recognize that certainty of ownership is a prerequisite of sustainable development.

WASHINGTON, DC – Earlier this month, Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf warned that Africa would continue to be stalked by poverty, hunger, and famine until governments provide smallholder farmers with secure rights to land. She was speaking from experience, both personal and political.

Sirleaf and her tiny West African country are perfect examples of the steep toll that insecure land rights take on individuals, communities, and countries. Disputes over land ownership were a key driver of Liberia’s bloody 14-year civil war. And overlapping claims to land continue to foment conflict and impede foreign investment. Not even the president is immune to weak land-tenure laws ; squatters invaded a four-acre parcel that Sirleaf bought in 1979, and refused to move for years.

Stories like these can be heard across the continent. According to the World Bank, more than 90% of Africa’s rural land is undocumented. Overlapping and conflicting land-management systems are the norm, as are inaccessible, out-of-date, incomplete, inaccurate, or nonexistent land records. But while dysfunctional systems of land tenure have no doubt cost African governments millions in foreign investment, they have hurt African farmers most directly.

Africa’s small family farmers – already burdened by soil degradation, climate change, and resource competition fueled by surging populations – face an even more challenging bureaucratic hurdle : no paper to prove that the land they call home is theirs. Uncertain of their ability to control their farms into the next season, farmers’ planning horizons shrink. Instead of investing in terraced fields, planting trees, and buying high-quality fertilizer, Africa’s farmers seek to maximize short-term profits. This is particularly true of female farmers, who face an additional thicket of discriminatory land laws and customs.

Studies show there is no way to reduce poverty, improve nutrition, or achieve other key development goals without strengthening land rights, especially for women. Secure rights to land are simply a prerequisite of development.

In Tanzania, women with secure rights earn three times more than their landless counterparts. In Nepal, children whose mothers have secure land rights are 33% more likely to be well nourished. And in Zambia, in areas where women’s land rights are weak and HIV infection rates are high, women are less likely to make investments to improve harvests – even when their husbands are not HIV positive. These women anticipate that they will be forced off their land if and when they are widowed, and that expectation depresses farm investment, affecting harvests and family nutrition for years.

Read the full text article

Les articles de la même rubrique

img

About big data and small-scale farmers

“Food and Digits” was the topic of this year’s World Food Day Colloquium in Germany, where scientists discussed the question whether big data and ICT could revolutionise the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
Who benefits from big data, and who uses it ? These two questions ran like a common (...)

img

Étude de cas du Oakland Institute

The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank, bringing fresh ideas and bold action to the most pressing social, economic, and environmental issues of our time.
All Case Study
Publication en français :
Pour lutter contre la sécheresse, le Malawi et la Zambie optent pour le manioc (...)

img

Leaders de l’agrobusiness : les femmes mènent l’innovation agricole

Des femmes d’affaires créatives de tous les pays ACP se lancent sur les marchés agricoles internationaux en s’efforçant de dépasser les inégalités de genre et d’obtenir des succès durables.
Dans le monde entier, des femmes entrepreneurs gèrent des affaires rentables dans le secteur agricole, malgré de (...)

img

La connaissance au service du développement

Les mauvaises pratiques agricoles sont parmi les nombreuses raisons de la faible productivité en Afrique subsaharienne. Or, une part considérable des agriculteurs n’ont qu’un accès limité à l’information et aux connaissances, ce problème étant également du au nombre insuffisant d’agents de vulgarisation (...)

img

Les pays invités à associer de plus en plus agriculture et TIC

La FAO et l’UIT ont signé un accord pour l’utilisation des TIC dans l’agriculture. Des essais montrent que le recours aux TIC peut aider à améliorer les rendements. La satisfaction des besoins alimentaires du monde d’ici à 2050 passe par l’e-agriculture.
L’Organisation des nations unies pour (...)