PRIORITY INVESTMENT Category
Around the world, nearly 1 billion rural farmers—large numbers of whom are women—lack secure rights to the land that they tend.1 In Africa, for example, 90% of rural land has no legal documentation and is subject to informal regulation.2 This uncertainty about land ownership prevents families from making investments that would enable them to increase their agricultural productivity, improve their food security, and boost their income.
Successful interventions in this area involve working with governments, community leaders, and other stakeholders to develop laws and policies that secure and enforce land rights. Efforts to raise awareness of newly established land rights are also important.
Secure land rights give families the confidence and stability that they need to invest in their homes and farms, and such investments generate a wide range of economic and social benefits. These benefits include increases in agricultural production and annual income, as well as increased high school graduation rates and decreased teen pregnancy rates.3,4,5,6 At a national level, efforts to strengthen property rights can lead to increases in gross domestic product and per capita income.7,8
Investment in this area has beneficial environmental consequences as well. When farmers have secure rights to their land, they are more likely to adopt soil improvement measures that increase crop productivity and promote carbon sequestration.9,10 Emerging evidence also suggests that enabling women to hold secure rights to land has positive effects on biodiversity protection and climate change mitigation.11,12
Related Portfolio Organizations
- Roy L. Prosterman, Robert Mitchell, and Tim Hanstad, eds. One Billion Rising: Law, Land and the Alleviation of Global Poverty, 2009.
- Frank F. K. Byamugisha. “Securing Africa’s Land for Shared Prosperity: A Program to Scale Up Reforms and Investments.” World Bank Group, 2013..
- Cheng Chen. Land Reform in Taiwan, 1961, p. 84, chart 12.
- Klaus Deininger. “Land Policies for Growth and Poverty Reduction.” World Bank Group, 2003, p. 46.
- Sebastian Galiani and Ernesto Schargrodsky. “Property Rights for the Poor: Effects of Land Titling.” Journal of Public Economics, vol. 94, no. 9-10, 2010, pp. 700-729.
- Sebastian Galiani and Ernesto Schargrodsky. “Effects of Land Titling on Child Health.” Economics & Human Biology, vol. 2, no. 3, 2004, pp. 353-372.
- Ricardo Fort and Ruerd Ruben. “Land Inequality and Economic Growth: A Dynamic Panel Data Approach.” Agricultural Economics, December 2007.
- Philip Keefer and Stephen Knack. “Polarization, Politics and Property Rights: Links Between Inequality and Growth.” Public Choice, vol. 11, 2002, pp. 127-154
- Klaus Deininger and Daniel Ayalew Ali. “Do Overlapping Land Rights Reduce Agricultural Investment? Evidence from Uganda.” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, vol. 90, 2008, pp. 869-882.
- Klaus Deininger and Songqing Jin. “Tenure Security and Land-Related Investment: Evidence from Ethiopia.” European Economic Review, vol. 50, 2006, pp. 1245-1277.
- Purabi Bose, et al. “Women’s Rights to Land and Communal Forest Tenure: A Way Forward for Research and Policy Agenda in Latin America.” Women’s Studies International Forum, vol. 65, 2017, pp. 53-59.
- Anna Knox, et al. “The Interface of Land and Natural Resource Tenure and Climate Change Mitigation Strategies: Challenges and Options.” Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations. 2010.