Since its founding, Landesa has partnered with governments, communities and other stakeholders in more than 50 countries to advance pro-poor, gender-sensitive land rights reforms using law and policy tools. These reforms have helped catalyze prosperity, reduce hunger, and ease conflict over land for more than 180 million families.
Seventy-five percent of the world’s poor live in rural areas where land is a fundamental asset and a primary source of income, security, opportunity, and status. Yet more than half of these families lack either access to land or a secure stake in the land they till. Legal rights to land improve the resiliency of families so they can climb out of extreme poverty. Tangible land rights also lay the foundation for other development investments to take root — like education programs, financial services, and health care.
The Chandler Foundation’s investment was targeted at a window of opportunity for Landesa to help shape China’s land tenure policy. The big bet paid off – in 2019 China made two major reforms: for the first time, women’s names now appear on rural land certificates, and China repealed a law that required farmers to give up their land rights if they migrated to the city.
I see land rights as the common denominator between so many of the most stubborn challenges facing the world today. Land rights are an under-recognized and under-utilized lever that can help us achieve our development goals from women’s economic empowerment to nutrition and from conservation to food security. Landesa is perfectly positioned to work in partnership with both the public sector and the private sector to make lasting, transformative change.
Indira and her husband, Anirudha, have been smallholders for almost a decade, after they received a title to a plot of forest land in Odisha’s Dhenkanal district. Before they were landowners, Indira recalls how she and her husband rarely had enough to eat.
“We did not have a record (of land rights), and agriculture was miserable. There was a scarcity of food. My kids are too small to understand the importance (of having land). Only my husband and I can understand the difference.”