With a land title, Liberata could feed her children and afford to send them to school.
In 2008, the villagers in Kabushinge, Rwanda learned about their new rights to own land and they gained, for the first time, legal title to the farmland they had farmed for generations, thanks to a partnership between the Government of Rwanda and Landesa. (Photo by Deborah Espinosa)
For Kabushinge resident and mother of six children, Liberata Batezimisi, this was a turning point. (Photo by Deborah Espinosa)
Landesa went back to visit Kabushinge five years after our pilot. During this visit, Liberata told us that with legal control over her family’s farmland, she began using better fertilizer and her harvest of corn and sweet potatoes improved. (Photo by Deborah Espinosa)
She told us that she no longer had to fend off her neighbors’ attempts to take her land and could pour all of her resources into her children. Her children could finally enjoy a balanced diet including corn porridge, green beans, and bananas. (Photo by Deborah Espinosa)
And she could afford to send her children to school. (Photo by Deborah Espinosa)
“It makes a very big difference, having a title.” (Photo by Deborah Espinosa)
As the African Union launches its year of African Agriculture, Landesa celebrates the progress the continent has already made in supporting its smallholder farmers like Liberata. Still, 90 percent of Africa’s rural land is undocumented. In the current climate of high and increasing demand for land in Africa, land that is undocumented is also unprotected. Documenting communities’ and individuals’ rights to land in a manner that protects their customary claims gives Africa’s farmers the stability they need to invest in their land, and thereby to improve their harvest and their lives. (Photo by Deborah Espinosa)