Connecting the Dots between Nutrition and Land Rights

By: Dr. S.B. Lokesh, Landesa India state director of Karnataka

Karnataka, India–It is a little known fact that the best predictor of poverty in my country is not low caste or illiteracy. The best predictor of poverty is in fact landlessness.

Across India landlessness is a huge problem. There are more than 17 million rural families who have no land. They are day laborers, migrant workers, tenant farmers, or squatters, who don’t have legal control over the land on which they depend for their survival. For these families, hard work doesn’t mean fuller bellies. They labor in the fields, often with their children by their side, for pennies a day. They eat when there is work and go hungry when there is none. They are without any security and without any opportunity to better their lives.

And so, it is little surprise that a recent study across India found that 42 percent of all children under five were malnourished.

But a new video, spotlighting the connection between nutrition and land ownership, gives me hope for what is possible for poor families when they have land.

The video illuminates quite clearly and powerfully, with testimony from families who were once landless and food insecure, how land ownership transformed their lives. With a plot of land, even as small as a tennis court, they can now grow their own food and use any income from selling excess harvests to supplement their income and afford better nutrition for the household.

A variety of state governments across India, from Karnataka, where I live and work, to Odisha, West Bengal, and Andra Pradesh recognize the key role land ownership plays in solving some of the most stubborn problems associated with poverty: from nutrition and education, to peace and security.

These governments have, in partnership with Landesa, an international development organization, partnered to develop and support a variety of innovative programs to help give India’s poorest – the landless – secure rights to land and the opportunity to feed their families.

In West Bengal and Karnataka, for example, formerly landless families have been granted ownership to a small plot of land.

Using the families most abundant resource, labor, the families invest in the land and eventually can grow most of the fruits and vegetables they need on these small plots.

For the first time, these families have the opportunity and incentive to plan for a better future.

Millions of India’s poor are, through these new programs, becoming market vendors, filling their children’s bellies with nourishment and their children’s futures with promise.

 

Dr. S.B. Lokesh

About Dr. S.B. Lokesh

Dr. S. B. Lokesh is state director in Karnataka, India for Landesa. Follow us on Twitter at @Landesa_Global.
This entry was posted in Health & Nutrition and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Connecting the Dots between Nutrition and Land Rights

  1. Pingback: re-emergingworld.com « re-emergingworld.com

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

From Our Blog

Diana Fletschner

Accounting for land rights in the post-2015 sustainable development agenda

As U.N. member countries continue discussions regarding new sustainable development goals, targets and indicators to replace the expiring Millennium Development Goals, it is helpful to remember the story of former World Bank President Robert McNamara’s quest for poverty data. The story …
Read More

Landesa

The True Measure of Land’s Value

This post originally appeared on NextBillion. By Sabita Parida  As a trained agriculturist, I have always measured the worth of land in a very scientific manner. I consider the climate, water resources and soil. Weighing this all in my mind’s eye, …
Read More

Tim Hanstad

Securing Land Rights Must be Key in UN Development Talks

This post was originally published by the Financial Times’ This is Africa Online. In the week of 20 January, UN member states will begin the next phase of critically important negotiations on a new global framework for sustainable development to …
Read More

On Twitter