News / Africa

Development Groups Work to Secure Land Rights for Africa’s Poor

One option, ‘property ladder,’ offers range of possibilities, from community tenures to individual ownership

William Eagle

In Africa and elsewhere in the developing world, less than a third of people living on the land actually own it or have any officially recognized right to it.

Development experts say gaining land rights is important for reducing poverty, since it offers poor people collateral they can use to get loans to improve the land.  Without legal recognition, some tenant farmers receive only a fraction of the earnings as their share of the harvest.

Securing land rights through, for instance, land recordation and registration also promote economic growth.  They assure foreign investors that the land, and the rights of those on it, are secured under some form of legal framework .

Clarissa Augustinus is the chief of the Land, Tenure and Property Administration Section of UN-Habitat in Nairobi, Kenya.

Clarifying land rights

"When an investor goes to the government and says, ‘I want a piece of land,’ the government looks at its maps which show that that particular piece of land is empty, and they give it to an investor," she said. "But the investor goes there and it’s occupied by a tribe or maybe families. It then becomes problematic for the investor to take over that land because it can cause what European investors call ‘reputation risk.’ If they evict people, and it gets to the newspapers, it can affect the reputation of the investors."

But Augustinus says surveying, establishing boundaries and registering land and issuing deeds are expensive.

"You could be talking of a couple of hundred dollars to create a deed or a title," she said. "Most countries cannot afford to give the majority of citizens at this point in time ownership rights because of the cost of creating, managing and updating it, and most individuals can’t afford to subsidize it."

Augustinus recommends an intermediate form of tenure that can build the assets of the poor.

"It could start," she explained, "with something as basic an intermediate form as a politician saying, ‘I’m going to protect this informal settlement. You are not going to get moved, you’re not going to be evicted.’ It could include family rights and group rights as you find in customary tenure. It could be a lease. In cities, 60 percent of people are renters, so these are all intermediate forms of tenure that have to be formalized or put on some form of ladder where people can climb up over time.

Augustinus says one approach supported by UN-Habitat is the creation of what she calls a “property ladder,” or “continuum” of land rights. Under the arrangement,tenants could receive a simple certificate or starter title to the land and continue on to more sophisticated forms of recognition, including what she calls the “Mercedes Benz” of individual ownership.

A scale of rights

She says at least 23 countries use a property ladder, including Namibia, which grants a starter title.

"In terms of starter title," said Augustinus, "people would be safe within that community. They would not be under any form of threat, eviction by the state, which is common, or by wealthy people buying that piece of land. That piece of land itself would be considered for informal settlement and people there would have starter title. That title would give them very few things: they’d be able to leave their land to their children, which is important to the poor, and be able to sell that piece of land within the community. But there would be no planning and no services [like electricity or water]."

Further up the ladder of land rights, would be a form of lease, which gives inhabitants more security. With a lease, the bank could allow people to mortgage the land. In the last step up the ladder, a majority of a community could decide to convert the land to individual ownership, or title.

Besides Nambia, other countries adopting the property ladder approach include Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.  Augustinus says Ethiopia has already delivered 20 million land certificates on the lower end of the property ladder, for about $1 US each.  She says it’s one of the most successful certification programs in Sub-Saharan Africa.

New and alternative ways to registering land, like the land ladder, are important to both rural and urban areas.

UN-Habitat notes that Africa’s urban population is expected to increase fourfold between 1990 and 2020. Today more than a quarter of the 924 million slum dwellers worldwide live in Africa. Granting them security of tenure is an important way of meeting the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, which call for eradicating hunger and poverty and improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers.

You May Like

Anti-Terror Drills Highlight China’s Push Into Central Asia

China, Russia, several central Asian countries wrap up massive anti terrorism military drills in Inner Mongolia More

Erdogan’s First Step: Secure More Power in New Role in Turkey

Erdogan was sworn in as Turkey's first popularly elected president on Thursday; he picked former foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu as PM More

Pakistan Army Fails to Break Political Deadlock

PM Sharif claims he didn't ask army to defuse crisis; military rejects claim More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid