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Land

Ensuring access to food, shelter and income

Competition for land has never been greater. The world faces rising population numbers, rapid urbanization, climate change, declining soil fertility and an increasing demand for food and fuel security. All of this puts pressure on land.

In many developing countries, competing land uses and increasing demand are sources of conflict and debate. Weak land governance and inefficient management of natural resources compound these issues.

Poor rural people – especially women, youth, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups – typically have weak or unprotected tenure rights. 

This means that they risk losing access and control over land, often the only asset they have to secure their livelihoods.  

Land tenure security for broader stability

Access to land is key to eradicating poverty – and not only because it allows farmers to feed their families. 

When smallholder farmers have secure land rights, they are more willing to invest in the land and can use it to access credit. Land ownership also gives them more incentives to improve farming techniques and manage their land sustainably. They are able to diversify their incomes and protect their family’s well-being against the threat of more powerful neighbours or private companies claiming stake to their land. 

With secure land rights, rural women usually have a greater say in household investments and in community matters.

Land tenure security makes societies more stable, with less conflict and more opportunity. 

Inclusive decision-making and a more secure future 

IFAD-supported projects help people in rural areas gain legal rights to their land — a key factor in the fight against poverty. We promote the recording and registering of land rights, decentralized land administration and more secure rangeland rights. 
We also encourage good land governance through participatory land-use planning and conflict resolution, as well as inclusive and responsible investment and multi-stakeholder dialogue. 

Securing land rights can be complex, and is an issue that requires sustained international support. IFAD is therefore engaged in the global policy dialogue on land as part of the Global Donor Working Group and is a founding member of the International Land Coalition, which identifies access to both land and natural resources as a fundamental factor in IFAD’s efforts to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience in rural areas.

Collaborating with FAO, the Committee on World Food Security and others, IFAD contributed to the formulation and implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGTs). 

We also worked together with the African Union Commission and its partners to develop the pan-African land policy guidelines. More recently, IFAD has collaborated with a range of partners on the inclusion of a land tenure security indicator within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework.  

IFAD also leads the Global Environmental Fund (GEF) Integrated Approach for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa, which focuses on the natural resources that underpin food and nutrition security — land, water, soils, trees and genetic resources.

Spotlight

Spotlight

Five reasons IFAD is putting small-scale farmers at the forefront of food systems transformation

Our current food systems are not sustainable. Hunger has been on the rise for several years, with an estimated 811 million people worldwide going hungry in 2020 – and with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 132 million more people are expected to join this number soon. 

Tags: LAND, NUTRITION, CLIMATE AND ENVIRONMENT, LIVESTOCK AND RANGELAND, INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, CROPS

Projects

Projects

Bangladesh

Haor Infrastructure and Livelihood Improvement Project

Uganda

Agricultural Technology and Agribusiness Advisory Services Project (ATAAS)

Peru

Strengthening Local Development in the Highlands and High Rainforest Areas Project

Related news

Related news

Call for proposals: Stepping up IFAD’s gender transformative agenda - Women’s land rights initiative

February 2020 - NEWS
This call for proposals is to select a recipient or consortium of recipients to receive a three-year IFAD grant financing to implement the project: Stepping up IFAD’s gender transformative agenda - Women’s land rights (WLR) initiative, for a total amount of up to US$3 million.

Innovative impact fund to create jobs for rural youth in developing countries

February 2019 - NEWS
An impact fund with an innovative approach for attracting much needed capital to the rural areas of developing countries will be launched today at the annual meeting of Member States of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Agrarian reform and protecting land and environmental defenders at heart of Global Land Forum declaration

October 2018 - NEWS
Agrarian reform and protecting land and environmental defenders are two urgent areas for action called for by members of the International Land Coalition (ILC) in the Bandung declaration.

Related publications

Related publications

How to do note: Seeking, free, prior and informed consent in IFAD investment projects

October 2021
This note offers practical guidance for IFAD staff, consultants and in-country partners for seeking FPIC in the design and implementation of IFAD-funded projects and programmes, in compliance with IFAD policies and procedures.

Chicken raising to improve the livelihood and living conditions of poor, landless farmers in rural Cambodia

April 2021
More than half of all rural Cambodian households keep poultry. Local bird breeds are the highest in demand in the local market, especially during festivals and celebrations.

Land tenure updates

June 2021
IFAD is committed to promoting secure tenure and equitable rights to, and governance of, land, territories and natural resources, as a central tenet of rural transformation.

Related documents

Related documents