Growing populations and economic change resulting from globalisation and climate change are increasing pressure on land, particularly in urbanising countries. This exposes many of those occupying and using land to risks resulting from tenure insecurity. Customary practices in land management are giving way to market-based statutory systems of land tenure. This has been accompanied by a significant increase in demand for land for investment; in some countries this has caused land users to lose rights and access to their land and other natural resources. Altogether, these trends have presented governments with significant challenges to effectively govern land tenure and property rights in a way that is socially acceptable and legitimate, and at the same time delivers inclusive economic development.
This rapid evidence assessment (REA) addresses the question of which policies and interventions or approaches have been successful in fostering compliance with legitimate land tenure rights and what impact these strategies have had on development outcomes.
The research reviewed for this assessment shows evidence that a range of strategies employed by government, civil society and local communities have improved tenure security and property rights. There is also some evidence that these strategies have resulted in some immediate or short-term outcomes, i.e. improved living conditions for vulnerable groups such as women. However, there is limited and mixed evidence that strategies have had an impact on development outcomes. Many of the examples that were found to have fostered compliance have not been in place long enough for evidence of positive outcomes on poverty reduction, gender equity, and access to formal credit, or public services to emerge.
The REA clearly shows that the diversity of needs, and the rate at which these needs are changing for land users at different levels of social and economic development, requires an equally diverse range of tenure and rights options. No single policy, approach or intervention can meet the diversity of current and projected needs for tenure and property rights within any given country.