Land Access and Household Wellbeing in Cameroon: Does Gender Matter? | Land Portal | Securing Land Rights Through Open Data

Africa remains a net food importing region spending more than USD 35 billion annually on food imports, although this continent has about 65% of the uncultivated arable land left in the world to feed 9 billion people by 2050 (AfDB, 2016). Land tenure remains a major challenge across the continent and only about 10% of Africa’s rural land is registered. In Cameroon, in particular, land as an asset, an input or an income source is not equally possessed by any individual or household with respect to gender and place of living. This is as a result of some land laws, cultural norms and behaviors that, as in many countries, are gender-related and extended beyond biological differences.

During the 2019 Conference on Land Policy in Africa, a paper was presented on the matter of land access and household wellbeing in Cameroon.  At the time of the writing of the paper, the UN 2030 and AU 2063 development agenda had just been adopted with an emphasis on land, gender and well-being issues (SDG 15, SDG5, SDG 2 and SDG1). The main research question of this study which was presented was: What is the effect of land access on household’s wellbeing in Cameroon? The main hypothesis of our study is that land access better improves household’s living conditions when it is headed by a woman.

It was found that land possession by female-headed households had a relevant impact on the well-being of the household as a whole in term of income and consumption. Being landless increased the probability of being poor (low income and consumption) and vulnerable. This study was important for stakeholders since, among other things, even if attention to gender and land governance is not new. Land tenure security and full and equal access of women to ownership, property rights and land titles in Cameroon can therefore be seen not only as an asset, but also as an engine for economic growth that can be engaged in the UN-2030 and the AU-2063 development agenda. The recommendation was that land should be available for everybody regardless the gender. Obstfeld (2017) as cited in IMF (2017:14) emphasized that, «Gender equality is more than a moral issue; it is a vital economic issue. For the global economy to reach its potential, we need to create conditions in which all women can reach their potential ». Following the same line, it was assumed that a gender responsive land governance could be useful in Cameroon.

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