Land rights recognition/formalization/titling/collective tenure


Land rights and property rights in land are often confused. Tenure rights derive from societal, customary, political, historical and other forms of recognition. Property rights backed up by land titles may enhance security of tenure, but there are also risks and pitfalls associated with titling - especially if formalisation leads to neglect or undermining of tenure security on non-titled land. There are some protections such as communal land titling, but these also come with risks. Women and ethnic minorities have been disenfranchised by past titling programs, but progressive titling policy can also enhance security for targeted groups.

Key reform issues:

  • Ensuring women's name on title deeds
  • Legislating for and enacting communal tenure
  • Distinguishing between "titling gap" and "tenure gap"
  • Recognising but not imposing cultural association between tenure systems and ethnicity/indigeneity

Current critique and debate:

Titling programs often lead to polarised positions:

  • Does fully transferrable land title empower by turning land into capital or disempower by encouraging the poor to sell their children's land inheritance?
  • Can communal title provide protections and recognition of indigenous land practices such as shifting cultivation, or does it leave ethnic minorities isolated from market opportunities and modern forms of production?
  • Should titling be restricted to urban and peri-urban areas with well-established land markets or should it be extended across rural areas?

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