Land matters: Experts grapple with issues of measurement, ownership and equity


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Good stewardship of land – whether fertile fields or tracts on the edges of growing cities – can drive sustainable and equitable development. Done well, good land governance can enable farmers, community leaders, city planners, remote sensing scientists, researchers and relief organizations to successfully deal with climate change, urbanization, gender equality, and food security. But the complexity of land administration, and its attendant institutional and political hurdles, often hamper progress and reinforce deep-seated inequalities and inertia instead of fostering growth and shared prosperity.

This is what makes the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty happening this week at the World Bank so important. Over 1,000 experts from 115 countries have gathered here for the event and are exploring a wide range of problems and potential solutions.

A small, diverse group of journalists have been sponsored to cover the conference as part of a training programme sponsored by the World Bank, USAID and Thomson Reuters. Their perspectives -- from the Philippines to Uganda, to Nigeria, to Ghana -- is providing a non-technical view on what's trending in the arena of land reform, land rights and land grabs.

So far the journalists' posts have touched on a range of topics, with perspectives offered from the Philippines to the DRC. They have explored:

- Balancing between land security for local people versus wildlife conservation in Uganda

- How post-conflict countries like the DRC deal with villagers whose relationship with the land is guided by long-established communal laws while also working with development experts trying to set up modern land tenure systems


- Mechanisms for ensuring that secure land tenure can reap tangible economic benefits

Check out the conference website for posted papers and view the webcast of the plenaries by clicking here. (The plenary on land data will happen on 3/26 from 5:30-6:15 pm ET; the other on 3/27, also from 5:30-6:15, will explore integrating land governance in the post-2015 framework).


Merrell Tuck-Primdahl

Communications Director, Brookings Institution’s Global Economy and Development Program

Join the Conversation

maithreyi krishnaraj
March 27, 2014

A major problem in India is that land records are notoriously unreliable. A lot of 'be nami' transactions take place to escape the land ceiling Act. What land owners do is to show sections of lad under different names. India has sub divided land to allocate to many sons etc so that the average size is extremely small less than half an hectare. Women do not have independent land rights though with male migration, women are the farmers. See my study" women farmers of India" published by the National Book Trust in Delhi. IN put costs are heavy so small farmers cannot afford them. Public investment is inadequate in irrigation, soil improvement, fertilisers etc so yields are very low. The majority of workers are still in rural areas, but agriculture is in poor shape- poverty is connected to our state of agriculture though the potential is great.
Maithreyi Krishnaraj