Securing Land Tenure and Resource Rights

Women Farmers in Burundi
Training to the government in support of secure property rights means these small-scale farmers in Burundi are able to increase agricultural production.
Gregory Myers/USAID

Land tenure is the political, economic, social, and legal structure that determines how individuals and groups access and use land and related resources—including trees, minerals, pasture, and water.  Land tenure rules define how rights to use, control, and transfer land and resources are allocated within societies.

Secure land tenure and resource rights help to:

  • Address global climate change
  • Improve natural resource management
  • Expand economic growth
  • Improve food security and agricultural productivity
  • Empower women
  • Limit conflict

For example, improved tenure security leads to higher incomes by increasing incentives to invest, which improves productivity. This is the case for people across the economic spectrum from smallholder farmers to large-scale agricultural producers.

Strengthening resource rights has other important outcomes such as reducing the likelihood of violent conflict, limiting resource degradation, promoting gender equity, and empowering smallholders to prevent “land grabs.”

Worldwide our work is helping to build the capacity of land administration officials and a range of other stakeholders in order to improve accountability, accessibility and the responsiveness of land governance systems.

The Agency works to promote formal as well as informal, customary land governance systems for individuals and communities, which is particularly beneficial for vulnerable groups.

Results achieved include:

  • Over the past 5 years we have helped 30 countries improve their land tenure.
  • Since 2009, implementation of a property rights program in the Central African Republic has resulted in a reduction of mining-related conflicts from 142 to just 4 active conflicts in 2012; and a five-fold increase in incomes in the project area from 2010 levels in 2011.
  • In 2011 and 2012, USAID worked with governments in Kenya, Liberia, South Sudan, and Timor-Leste to support stronger land governance and administration systems.
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Last updated: April 09, 2013

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