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

Tim Hanstad

Depriving women farmers of land rights will set back China

This article was first published by the South China Morning Post on November 3, 2014. China is launching what is perhaps the most ambitious land registration system in history, seeking to document and protect property rights to more than one …
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Jen Duncan

10 ways donors can support African governments on rural land rights

This blog was originally published by Devex.com on November 18 as part of their ongoing Land Matters series. News of soaring demand for land in Africa and the strain this places on rural men and women is not new. Nor is it …
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Jen Duncan and Elisa Scalise

How land rights for women could help fight climate change

This editorial originally appeared in the Global Post on November 18.  Climate change is not gender-neutral. Women in the developing world are often responsible for household food security, agricultural work, and water and fuel harvesting, which are all impacted by …
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