Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Lessons in Land Tenure: Programming in Practice

This is the second piece in a mini-blog series kicking off Agrilinks’ focus on land, resource and marine tenure for food security in April. This piece was excerpted and adapted from the U.S. Government's Global Food Security Strategy (GFSS) Technical Guidance for Land, Marine, and Resource Tenure, one of 18 technical guidance documents for implementing the GFSS. Click here to read the first post in the series.

USAID and its partners have implemented a wide array of programs to address the critical need to improve land tenure policies and practices to strengthen the rights of smallholder producers, women, indigenous communities, investors and other stakeholders to drive long-term investments that contribute to sustainable reductions in global hunger, malnutrition and poverty. Below are a few takeaways drawing from some of USAID’s key successes in this area.

When a country’s long-established land policy is being considered for revision, support the policy process with research on its relationship to desired development objectives. In Liberia, the Land Governance Support Activity helped develop the draft Land Rights Act, which would formally recognize community land rights for the first time in the country’s history. To help address some interest group concerns with this new policy, the U.S. Government commissioned research on comparative practices around community land rights recognition and piloted the recognition of community land rights. The U.S. Government also conducted an impact evaluation of a pilot to strengthen community land governance.

In order to ensure a variety of legitimate land rights are respected in a country’s land policy, encourage broad stakeholder engagement, inclusive of all types of rights holders. Feed the Future support for Burma’s Land Use Policy prioritized nation-wide consultations in an environment in which smallholder farmers and communities are traditionally excluded from policy development. The consultations proved crucial for ensuring buy-in for the policy and were a model for policy reform in a challenging, transitional context.

If smallholder or medium-scale farmers are a priority for effectively implementing a country’s land policy, consider innovative technologies to improve tenure security. In Tanzania, Feed the Future is laying the groundwork for sustainable agriculture investment by, in part, scaling up the use of mobile technology to efficiently register the land rights of smallholders, including delivery of the certificates to women.

To improve the productivity of and benefits from wild-caught fisheries, support policies that secure tenure and access for small-scale fishing communities and associations. In Bangladesh, the Management of Aquatic Resources through Community Husbandry (MACH) activity helped secure long-term lease rights for wild-caught fisheries, established community management councils and introduced modern fisheries management practices. Villages in Bangladesh restored and improved the productivity of wild fisheries, leading to improved food security and the wellbeing of 184,000 of the country’s poorest citizens. Wild-fish catches in project villages rose by 140 percent, consumption went up 52 percent (from 32 to 48 grams per person a day) and average daily household incomes increased 33 percent.

Sustainable economic growth and enhanced resilience relies on promoting responsible land-based investing. In Mozambique, the U.S. Government is working with Coca-Cola’s largest sugarcane supplier in Sub-Saharan Africa, Illovo Sugar, Ltd. The partnership is actively striving to build better understanding at the community level of Mozambique’s land laws; map and record the land rights of smallholders; support participatory land use planning for members of a farmers’ association; and create an open and accessible grievance mechanism for community members. Through this work, farmers’ land rights and incentives to invest in their land are strengthened, while at the same time, Illovo fulfills its commitments to zero tolerance for land grabs and land rights abuses. Click here for materials from a recent webinar on this partnership.

Do you have other examples of successes or lessons learned in land tenure to share? Agrilinks welcomes contributions on the issue this month!