Land Matters was a month-long global conversation on Devex during September 2013. While this particular campaign to raise awareness about land rights for global development has since come to a conclusion, the importance of land remains a key issue for all development practitioners working toward a more sustainable future.

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for conflict resolution

Throughout history, disputes over land have escalated into large-scale conflict. To this day, when wars end and displaced people return home, they often struggle to reclaim their land. Smart land policies can form the foundations of peace – between refugees and their neighbors, feuding tribes and ethnic groups, races and religions.

Why #landmatters for conflict resolution

Why #landmatters for conflict resolution

The aftershocks of civil strife are often played out one plot of land at a time. Here’s what can be done about it.

How to resolve land conflicts

How to resolve land conflicts

John W. Bruce has suggested some interesting ways to resolve land disputes. Devex spoke with the co-author of the “Quick Guide to Land and Conflict Prevention.”

Rooted in land: Lessons in conflict resolution

Rooted in land: Lessons in conflict resolution

The relationship between land and conflict has finally begun to garner the attention it deserves within the international community. Here are a few key lessons to guide future programming and implementation courtesy of Eric Reading, executive vice president at Chemonics International.

Insecure land rights drive conflict over natural resources

Insecure land rights drive conflict over natural resources

In many countries, uncertainty of land ownership extends to the resources attached to the land. The resulting competition for control over these valuable resources can be severe, driving localized conflict and often pitting individuals, companies, communities and the state against each other.

How to manage African land conflicts through informal justice systems

How to manage African land conflicts through informal justice systems

Effectively managing land disputes in Africa and preventing their escalation into violent conflict means supporting informal justice institutions at the grass-roots level, writes Deborah Espinosa.

Peace, land and the development challenge

Peace, land and the development challenge

Secure land rights have proven to drive economic development and ensure peace, but donors don't seem to realize this. In a guest opinion for Devex, Landesa's Robert Buergenthal makes the case for land rights to be included in the post-2015 framework.

Transforming paradigms: Land regulation for low-income groups in Brazil

Transforming paradigms: Land regulation for low-income groups in Brazil

In 2009, Brazil launched “Minha Casa, Minha Vida” (“My House, My Life”), a campaign to tackle an intense housing shortage and the proliferation of self-constructed and invariably ramshackle favelas. Is it succeeding?

Taking ethnicity out of property rights

Taking ethnicity out of property rights

“I’m writing this from Kosovo, where I am forcefully reminded that disputes over property rights often are sources of violent conflict, with horrific consequences for thousands of people,” writes Steven Lawry, DAI’s global lead of land tenure & property rights.

Mapping the Future of Land Rights for Global Development

Mapping the Future of Land Rights for Global Development

Land matters for sustainable economies, livelihoods, human rights, and the environment- the development community cannot afford for land to be a trend. Expert panelists from DAI, Chemonics International, USAID, and Omidyar Network sat down with Devex to discuss what land rights mean for the future of global development.

Must reads

Strengthening land and resource rights

This article features some of the pioneering solutions Chemonics has implemented to help improve land rights in Rwanda, Colombia and Ukraine.

Liberia’s future land experts

In order to strengthen the Liberian government’s capacity to administer land laws and policies, USAID funded graduate studies for select students. In Liberia, property disputes occur daily, from battles over forest tree use to people attempting to return to land they lived on before the country's civil war began. Even small conflicts result in burdens to the legal system and wasted resources that could be better used rebuilding the country.

Connecting the dots between security and land rights

In India, land titles help secure peace between neighbors. Listen to the story of a woman whose land was stolen, forcing her and her brothers to become day-laborers. A legal aid program supported by Landesa has helped her and 3,000 others resolve their disputes and get a clear title to their land.

Strengthening access to land in plural tenure systems

As South Sudan strives for stability and development, land is both a key to livelihoods and economic growth and a tinderbox for future conflict. This study, from the Haki Network, examines customary land law in South Sudan and argues that displaced women, returnees and other vulnerable populations are consistently subjected to corrupt practices and are unaware of their land-related rights.

For Colombians displaced by conflict, new land laws may line a path home

USAID assisted Colombia’s National Commission on Reparations and Reconciliation to identify the root causes of dispossession and establish possible avenues for restitution. Results from that program have helped shape public policy and USAID has helped the government implement new policies and land-tenure studies, promote land-rights awareness, and update the country’s land documentation system.

Tenure insecurity in urban Mali

Conflict in rural areas, climate change and population growth are driving Malians especially from the southern provinces to Bamako and other urban centers. Many move to informal settlements that are illegally occupied. There, they find a patchwork of statutory and customary laws governing land rights.

Diamonds, development and property rights

This 12-minute video details the problems faced by diamond miners working with alluvial diamonds in the Central African Republic, and the challenges of affirming property rights at the grassroots level.

Liberia: Through war and peace

More than 20 years of civil war in Liberia left a legacy of disarray, including disputes over land. This report by Thomson Reuters shows how a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development is using technology — namely, digitized land records — to resolve the land crisis.

Defending a widow’s right to land and property

A story of how a widow and her children in Tajiskistan who were unjustly evicted from their property were able to regain it with the help of a project implemented by Chemonics.

Abuse of customary authority over land in Ghana

In 2012, a rural chief in Ghana sold his community’s land — including a cemetery and cocoa, citrus and food crops — to outsiders. Local families lost their source of livelihood when the chief couldn’t account for the income of the land sale and those who lost access to farms were not compensated.

The changing face of land disputes in Liberia

In Liberia, confusion over land ownership in the wake of civil war pits neighbor against neighbor. Residents are struggling with parallel legal systems and widespread fraud, but still international organizations have made progress in settling disputes.

Land disputes and land conflicts

Land so pervasively underpins human activity that it usually plays some role during war and civil violence. Understanding the role land plays in the conflicts of so many nations can help policy makers develop strategies to ease tensions among groups, limit conflict, and potentially avoid violence and the poverty trap that comes from cyclical violence. Failure to address these bedrock issues may increase the likelihood of conflict and perpetuate poverty.

Who is benefitting?

Sierra Leone is rebuilding after an 11-year civil war, which was fuelled by ‘blood diamonds’ and rooted in inequitable use and distribution of resources. This detailed report, produced by Christian Aid, analyzes the social and economic impact of three large-scale land investments in Sierra Leone and asks: “Who is benefitting?”

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Cover photo by: USAID’s Aceh Technical Assistance Recovery project, implemented by Chemonics International (Indonesia)