#landmatters: The conversation continues

A farmer in Phong Nha, Vietnam, a country where issues related to land rights and governance have often been contentious. Photo by: Adam Brill / CC BY-NC-SA

Throughout September, we asked you to tell us why #landmatters. We’d like to thank those who participated in this timely conversation about an increasingly cross-cutting issue.

But this doesn’t mean the end of the discourse; our readers continue to share their views on the importance of land to global development.

“I think land rights depend on the country’s overall socioeconomic condition. Country’s governance system and also the political commitment [are] necessary,” Syed Taposh wrote. “The people in the power structure at national levels, and community levels always try to dominate the people who are landless. Minority groups of population are the victims in most cases.”

He cited as example the Bangladeshi people from the sweepers’ community who provide essential service to local communities, yet they don’t own land and are always under the threat of eviction.

But as Stella Dawson of the Thomson Reuters Foundation argued in a commentary, even land ownership may not provide the full answer to hardship. Several readers, including Pramod Sharma and Bala Sanou, agreed.

Sharma said: “[W]omen should have land titles to feel secure, to feel them confident in front of their children and others. This gives them mental strength, which is essential for the survival on earth. This gives them an opportunity to grow whatever they feel is good for their family (vegetables other food etc). In contrast, unclear titles do not provide them freedom to work on the land, they are always in dilemma about sharing of yield. No doubt alone it won’t end poverty, but this is a key to unlock the barriers and well begun is half done.”

Part of the reason is the lack of proper conditions for rural landowners to access loans, Sanou said, citing the case of his country where poor people are prevented from seeking financing due to high interest rates (up to 22 percent) imposed by banks. This describes the situation in sub-Saharan Africa, he added.

Conflicts over land continue across Africa and elsewhere. Oftentimes, resolving such tensions means tapping informal justice systems, as noted in a commentary by lawyer and land tenure policy expert Deborah Espinosa.

“Tradition solves dispute problems in Africa. Land dispute is a lot to be considered in Africa,” Megabi Mathewos wrote in comment to Espinosa’s op-ed, suggesting that elders in Ethiopia are “respected and their informal justice system is recognized in court.”

Revisit Land Matters and let us know what you think!

About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.