By Chris Hufstader
After an audacious land grab by a foreign company, indigenous women in a remote Cambodian village struggle to regain their farms and sacred sites.
Sol Preng remembers vividly the day in 2012 when bulldozers unexpectedly arrived on her family farm.
“The company came and cleared away our cashew trees right before the harvest,” she says. “I lost four hectares of land and all my cashew trees.”
By Deborah Espinosa and Patrick Gallagher, USAID’s Land Technology Solutions Program
Persistent and pervasive gender inequality is a global development challenge that constrains economic growth, educational opportunities, and health outcomes. It jeopardizes food security and undermines poverty reduction strategies. The world over, some formal and many informal laws and customs operate to hinder women’s empowerment and thus their full potential as agents of economic and social change.
Improving how we work for – and with – indigenous and local women in their communities
As a human rights organisation, gender justice is a fundamental principle of our work, and we have long been conscious of, and sought to address, the barriers to effective participation in decision-making by women, as well as the other human rights violations they may face on account of their gender.
Commercial agriculture has driven land use changes and not only affected millions of hectares of forested land, but also farmers’ and local people’s land rights. Efforts to combat deforestation are at the forefront of the international aid agenda, and clarifying and securing land rights is important for its success.
The Santa Clara de Uchunya community has lived in a remote section of the Peruvian Amazon for generations. Like many indigenous groups, this community of the Shipibo-Konibo people have traditionally managed and relied on forests for hunting, fishing and natural resources.
But in 2014, someone started cutting down large sections of the community’s ancestral forests.
The failure to secure the property rights of rural communities shows a clear policy gap between citizens and rights to land as per the Constitution and the attitude and practices of the state, traditional leaders, white farmers and mining companies in relation to such rights.
The Second Regional Land Forum kicked off in Bangkok, Thailand in the early morning of May 28th and the opening session was certainly one to remember! Live drones, talk of big data and using NASA related technology to propel land rights forward, were but a few of the impressive topics on the table. Participants gathered to hear a variety of ‘flash talks’, quick yet effective pitches about notable initiatives relating to data, technology and land rights.
On Wednesday, 6 September 2017, Barbuda, the less known sister isle of the popular resort island of Antigua, bore the full brunt of Hurricane Irma as it struck the Leeward Islands of the Eastern Caribbean. The island suffered near total destruction: 95% of the island’s buildings were damaged, 60% of the population were rendered homeless, and a 2-year-old child was tragically killed. Antigua, on the older hand, was relatively untouched.
New technology has unleashed a wave of opportunities to secure formal land rights for hundreds of millions of people, but it is not a solve-all solution in countries with weak institutions, said a senior World Bank economist.
Satellite imagery, drones, cloud computing and blockchain are among technologies with the potential to help many of the world’s more than 1 billion people estimated to lack secure property rights, said the World Bank’s Klaus Deininger.
Much of the world’s rural landscapes are technically managed by national governments with limited recognition of, or support for, the rights and management responsibilities of the rural poor who live in these areas. In an era of large-scale land acquisitions for global commodity production, this has led, in some cases, to governments allocating vast tracts of land and resources to companies with limited or no consultation of the people affected.
For hundreds of years, pastoralists in Ethiopia’s lowlands have relied on strong customary land tenure systems to survive. Historically, legislation has failed to clearly define communal rights to rangelands, and the specific roles and responsibilities for both communities and local government to administer and manage these resources. This legislative deficiency prevented pastoral communities from fully exercising their constitutional rights to land (Ethiopia’s Constitution broadly recognizes pastoral communities’ right to access land and prevents their involuntary displacement).