Never has securing land rights for the world’s poorest people been more important

In an era defined by concerns over food security, environmental sustainability, stubborn cycles of poverty, and a global rush for farmland, secure rights to land for the world’s small farmers is critical.

For more than four decades, Landesa has championed the power of land ownership and secure land rights for farming families and communities as the keys to a safer and more prosperous future.

We are making progress.

Across the globe, from China’s rice paddies to Rwanda’s cassava fields, the world’s poorest people are climbing out of poverty by gaining legal control of their land. With the help of Landesa’s global team of land tenure experts, and in partnership with governments around the world, more than 109 million families in 40 countries have obtained secure land rights.

But more can be done. Most of the poorest people on the planet share three traits: they live in rural areas, rely on agricultural labor to survive, and don’t own the land they till. Landlessness remains one of the best predictors of extreme poverty around the world.

Structural problems deserve structural solutions

Landesa partners with governments to create laws, policies, and programs that provide secure land rights for the poorest.

We’ve learned that when a family has land of their own, they have opportunity and the means to improve nutrition, income, shelter. We’ve seen that when land rights are secure, the cycle of poverty is broken – for an individual, a family, a village, a community and entire countries.

Broadly distributed land rights, especially for women, provide structural systemic change that is enduring and multi-generational.

Founded in 1967 by former University of Washington Law Professor Roy Prosterman, and originally named the Rural Development Institute, we continue to be guided by the radically simple notion that secure property rights bring opportunity. While we recognize that land rights are not a panacea to poverty, we believe that they provide quite possibly the best first step. They are the foundation required for other development tools – education, public health, microfinance, sanitation, nutrition, among others – to take root. And they are necessary for us to address some of the most important issues of our time from food security to conservation.

We envision a world free of extreme poverty. We see a future in which all who depend on land for their well-being have secure land rights – one of the most basic and powerful tools for lifting themselves and their families out of poverty.

From Our Blog

Jen Duncan

Women in Tanzania set for equal land rights – let’s make sure it happens

By Jen Duncan and Scholastica Haule This post first appeared in the Guardian’s Poverty Matters blog on October 15, 2014. In a milestone for Tanzania, the country’s proposed new constitution provides women with equal rights to own and use land. …
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Tim Hanstad

We need to redefine ambition

This post was originally produced for the Skoll World Forum blog on October 13, 2014. When I announced a few weeks ago that, after 10 years as president and CEO of Landesa, I would be stepping down and transitioning into a …
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Melany Grout

5 girls who said NO to child marriage in West Bengal

This photo essay originally appeared on ONE.org. The Girls Project, a partnership between the government of West Bengal and Landesa, aims to keep girls in school and reduce their vulnerability to child marriage. More than 40,000 girls are currently participating in …
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