Tenure Security & SDG Indicator 1.4.2- How do we measure perceptions on land tenure security? | Land Portal
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LANDac, the Netherlands Academie on Land Governance for Equitable and Sustainable Development, is a partnership between Dutch organizations working on land governance. The partners are the International Development Studies (IDS) group at Utrecht University (leading partner), African Studies Centre, Agriterra, the Sociology of Development and Change (SDC) group at Wageningen University, the Land Portal Foundation, HIVOS, the Royal Tropical Institute (KIT), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Enclude Solutions.

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From June 20th to July 14th, 2017, the Land Portal, in collaboration with GLTN/GLII, Land Alliance and LandAC, will co-facilitate a dialogue through which a variety of stakeholders will focus on discussions centered around measuring the perception of land tenure security in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

The land tenure and property rights community has worked tirelessly to contribute to several of the Goals, with a major focus on Goal #1—to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. In order to reflect the paramount importance of land rights in the eradication of poverty, the UN System has developed Indicator 1.4.2. to monitor the progress of the security of land and property rights by countries during the SDG period until 2030.  The specific text of Indicator 1.4.2 is, “Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.” 

We are now in a period in which each of the SDG indicators are being reviewed by the UN’s statistical experts to assess the methods for measuring them, and the current and future data sources for providing globally comparable statistics on them. 

The online discussion therefore aims to widen the scope of awareness among land sector stakeholders about the efforts to measure Indicator 1.4.2., elicit feedback and views on the plans from a diversity of stakeholders, and focus attention on some of the particular benefits and challenges in measuring perception of tenure security as called for in the Indicator 1.4.2. 


  • Highlight the importance of monitoring land tenure security for all and the provision in the SDGs Indicator 1.4.2. including national policy reforms, global scorecard effects, and resource allocation in response to progress or lack thereof.
  • Provide readouts from the EGM on survey data about main methodologies and questions for measuring security and state-of-play for reclassification of 1.4.2. 
  • Introduce the opportunities and challenges of collecting data on perception of land tenure security.
  • Discuss the specific challenges and opportunities for collecting meaningful data by gender, and for vulnerable groups(e.g. Indigenous/territorial rights) in monitoring and reporting on perception data
  • Profile innovative data collection/reporting approaches and best practices from various players on perception data, disaggregation  -and locate their contribution in monitoring indicator 1.4.2
  • Provide specific recommendations on areas of focus on perception data to the custodian agencies responsible for indicator 1.4.2, currently working on the methodology for measuring this indicator consideration.
  • Provide key messages for the overall LANDac2017 including GLII session on the SDGs - with a focus on tenure security and land governance in relation to the SDGs, leaving no one behind. 

Dialogue Questions

  • What data is needed to measure tenure security for all? What is available, and what are the plans for collecting the required datasets?
  • How do we understand the perception of tenure security?
  • What gender and other group dynamics that need to be considered in collecting, analyzing and reporting on perceptions and legal documentation?
  • What are some of the best practices we have on how perception data has been collected and disseminated? (Existing or developing), challenges and opportunities. 
Related content: 

Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.


Last updated on 1 February 2022


Hello debate participants,

As mentioned above, the debate is now open for your comments! We invite each of you to contribute as much as you see fit, and to encourage your colleagues, students or friends to do the same.  Just as an opener, please find here below some suggestions to help guide you through the next few weeks, of what I’m sure will be very interesting conversations.

All the best for now,


  1. Your contribution can be as short or as long as you would like, but we suggest something around 300 words being most appropriate!
  2. We are a community of co-learners who are all a bit short on time!  Feel free to use existing work or presentations.  We don’t expect text to be polished or perfect.
  3. That being said, please do feel free to engage in real time dialogue (and debate) with fellow discussants. 
  4. Jump in whenever you would like, but don’t feel obligated to follow us throughout the two weeks.  We’ll be summarizing and sharing the main points with you as soon as we can. 
  5. If you have any questions, or would like to flag anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at: stacey.zammit@landportal.info.  You may also reach Malcom or Everlyne, who will also be facilitating the discussion. 

Dear participants,

As co-convener of this important event, the Land Portal would like to thank both the discussions co-organizers, LandAc, GLTN-GLII and the Land Alliance.  One of our main aims as the Land Portal is to increase access to information on land, to ensure more responsible land governance and secured land rights for all.  

What we've noticed, however, is that most of the land-related data and information needed to effectively monitor the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) land indicators is often inaccessible, unavailable, or dispersed across various websites and databases. What is more is that there seem to be a  general lack of understanding and awareness of (1) the land indicators in the SDGs, (2) the monitoring and reporting  framework  3) the roles of various actors involved in the SDG process! 

Finally, we've realized that increasing knowledge and understanding on land indicators in the SDGs can be further enhanced through rigorous promotion and campaign strategies that communicate and promote dialogue between various audiences and stakeholders.

This is why we are joining forces to undertake a number of activites aimed at promoting information and campaigning around the SDG land monitoring agenda.  A detailed “SDG” section of Land Portal will be created in the coming weeks to showcase the most important information related to all of the land indicators in the SDGs as well as the steps that mustbe taken to ensure the SDG land indicator reaches Tier II and I statuses.

As mentioned, strategic advocacy and campaigning around SDG land indicators are important.  This is why we have joined the effort of co-convening this discussion.  We want to encourage learning, exchange and discussion around the SDG land indicators.

The specific aims are to:

1) share relevant documents /information you think could be published on the LP page, 

2) provide insights and comments that help people to better understand the process and stimulate constructive dialogue with other stakeholders

3) support the committment of Co-custodian agencies responsible for land indicators in the SDGs, including 1.4.2 in securing re-classification of this indicator from Tier III to II by October 2017.


I therefore invite each of you to participate in this online discussion and come back to us for any questions! 

Thank you,



I am very excited to be part of this on-line discussion! Grateful to Land Portal and the sponsoring organizations for bringing us together. 

The SDG land indicator process offers an unprecedented opportunity for the land community to put our issues front-and-center in global development priorities. 

The process is really pushing the land community to face our challenges with global data.  The pressure of timelines and scrutiny from the IAEG-SDG reclassification review is encouraging us to move ahead quickly and we need that if we're going to move the needle on secure land rights for all.  

Individual perceptions of tenure security are a fundamental piece of information about land rights in any system or geography. An individual's perception encapsulates all the information available to the person, synthesizing the gamut of cultural, legal, familial, and local circumstances influencing the individual. 

Perceptions also pose challenges for measurement as they are a subjective construct which can be sensitive to the nuances of question formulation and context. The good news is that the land community has advanced substantially in the last couple years on testing approaches to measuring perceptions which address these challenges, and is continuing to refine these methods. 

I was very pleased to see the SDG 1.4.2 Expert Group Meeting on survey data that convened in Washington, DC on May 25-26 proposed a few core questions for the indicator, including one on perceptions. We will be sharing that question and other material from the EGM shortly here. We also will be sharing the material from yesterday's webinar on SDG 1.4.2. and the role of monitoring of perceptions of tenure security.  

Looking forward to a wide-ranging discussion and learning a lot from everybody participating.

Welcome to the discussion!

What data is needed to measure tenure security for all?

The data needed to measure tenure security should cover the following:

Information on the tenure system in a country. This is captured by the Global Land Indicators Initiative’s Land Indicators for Globally Comparable Data for Land Tenure and Land Administration Services which includes but is not limited to:

  • Official land tenure system (e.g. Torrens or Deed System)
  • Land Administration time
  • Number of tenue systems (this should include the % of persons ascribing to each system, their demographics and the associated time)
  • Dispute resolution mechanisms (this should include the % of disputes solved by each system and the associated time)
  • Registered vs Unregistered Land etc

Essentially, this information should give an objective and statistical perspective of tenure. This information is also the starting point for assessing all other tenure data as it will provide the standard by which systems will be analyzed to make improvements, it will provide a guide to what data to collect when measuring perception as this is most times contextual and it will also feed into international tenure initiatives. Ideally, the state should collect and manage this information through the day to day operations of its land related offices.

Comparison of data across countries or regions can be tricky. For example, the time land administration takes in a country may be relatively high and therefore indicate that persons are more likely to have insecure tenure, however, this may be an incorrect assessment is if fraud is common in the country, lengthy time taken for due diligence may be put in by the state to reduce fraud on land transactions therefore increasing the security of tenure once the transaction is complete.

Nuances that exist in a country cannot be overlooked either. For example, in Jamaica, we ascribe to the Torrens system of land registration. Despite the fact they there are many informal rural and slum settlements, where this rigorous and lofty system may be out of the reach of citizens, because of the local culture where land is of great economic and social value, government will be reluctant to move to dual systems that may empower the poor but also reduce their standards.

A person’s tenure relative to what is deemed secure within that tenure system.

This allows an assessment of how to improve a person’s tenure status on the individual level and analysis of mass results can indicate trends that need to be addressed by policy makers or through public education. These questions and the ones hereafter should be captured by enumeration or focus groups.

  • How did you come to live on the land
  • How many years have you lived on the land?
  • Do you occupy as owners/tenants/settlers?
  • Do you have any paperwork to support your occupation?

The nuances of tenure in a person’s country/ The perception of a person’s tenure security

Q: What would make you feel secure in how you hold land? (Locally persons often cite that their security is associated with their name being on the government tax record when it is a Certificate of Title that guarantees ultimate security)


The demographic and socio-economic causes and effects of tenure security

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Education etc

I am pleased to join and contribute to this important dialogue on monitoring and measurement of perception of tenure security in the context of SDGs with a focus on indicator 1.4.2. This dialogue follows a webinar co-convened by Global Land Indicators Initiative (GLII) a global platform on land governance monitoring hosted by Global Land Tool Network at UN Habitat, jointly with Land Portal, Land Alliance, Land Academy in the Netherlands and USAID; which I had the privilege to moderate.


GLII is as a collaborative and inclusive global initiative for development of comparable land Indicators for comparable data for monitoring land governance issues at scale for policy and decision making. GLII plays a key role in global coordination and convening of land and data communities; facilitate and provide technical support to the custodian agencies responsible for land indicators in the SDGs, and other land monitoring initiatives.

There is no doubt that secure tenure rights to land and property are strongly linked to poverty reduction, women empowerment, peace and security, social cohesion, adequate housing and urban development, conservation of natural resources and mitigation of the negative impact of climate change. Land governance enables efficient and effective appropriation and use of land, regulating land concentration, fragmentation and expropriation. This guarantees tenure security in rural and urban areas, and enhances the productive use of land. Effective national, regional and global land monitoring is central to ensuring that changes in land governance result in improved conditions and sustainable development opportunities for all, especially for women, vulnerable groups and those living in poverty.

SDG Land Indicator 1.4.2: Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure, is under  Goal 1 (“End poverty in all its forms everywhere”), contributing to Target 1.4: by 2030 ensure that all men and women, particularly the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership, and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology, and financial services including microfinance.

Agenda 2030 makes it possible for countries to contribute to global scale monitoring of the proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.

The land indicator 1.4.2 proposed for Sustainable Development Goal 1 on ending poverty is the percentage of people with secure tenure rights to land (out of total adult population), with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure. The indicator clearly underscores the importance of secure tenure rights to land, both documented and perceived tenure security for both men and women, and provides for legal recognition of all tenure types; as principles promoted by the continuum of land approach as shared in John Gitau’s presentation. This indicator (1.4.2) is considered universal and a backbone land indicator in the SDGs with direct and indirect link to all other land indicators. All presentations and reflections made by land experts in the webinar (also see attached presentations for more details) provided insights, experiences, opinions and tested approaches to data collection for monitoring and evaluating perception of tenure security, and the link to the continuum of land rights approach.

Discussions and reflections made affirmed the need for two data sets; data on perception of tenure security and administrative data; as two components needed to measure tenure security -indicator 1.4.2.  It was unanimously agreed that measuring perception of tenure security applies to those with legal recognition/documentation of their tenure rights and those with no legal recognition/documentation of their rights. Despite individuals or communities having a legal document like a title deed to their land, they still could perceive their rights to be insecure; while those without legal documents but with good land a governance structure that is working for them may perceive their tenure rights as secure.

Perception of tenure security of individuals and or communities in rural or urban areas, therefore, may vary based on their context and situations including threat of external aggression to dispossess them of their land/forced eviction, inter and or intra-community conflicts, disasters , past experiences  that affected communities like eviction of indigenous communities or slum dwellers, change of land polities, historical issues including restitutions, etc. Intra-household factors including power relations between male and female siblings, female and male spouses also affect gender relations likely to influence perception of tenure security including inheritance rights.

Land Alliance through its Property Rights Index (PRIndex), a new initiative that gives focus on measuring perception of tenure security shared results from 9 pilot countries during the webinar as presented by Malcolm Childress. This initiative showed the importance of application of new technologies that embrace low cost and efficient innovation for data collection; and how this is an opportunity capable of complementing efforts of by the custodian agencies and National Statistical Offices in monitoring indicator 1.4.2, particularly taking into account the list of survey questions for data collection developed and validated in an EGM held in Washington DC by the custodian agencies (UN Habitat and World BanK) with support of GLII - see  presentation by Robert Ndugwa.

Being a Tier III by classification of the IAEG-SDGs, more work is needed to lift this indicator from this Tier to Tier II by October 2017, acknowledging the efforts of the custodian including on-going consultative meetings with National Statistical Offices, land and data communities including an upcoming EGM on use of land administrative data scheduled for early July in Barcelona and a side event on the same to take place on the 10th July at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York. An EGM on securing women’s land rights in the SDGs is also organized by GLII/GLTN in collaboration with Oxfam, Landesa and UN Women with a focus on all land indicators is scheduled for 8 – 9 July in New York ahead of the High Level Political Forum October 10 – 17th.

The need to build on existing initiatives including household surveys like DHS, MICS and LSMS, impact evaluations on tenure security conducted by USAID and Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) were underscored in a presentation by Caleb Stevens from USAID, noting the opportunity to use such data to leverage efforts to secure re-classification of indicator 1.4.2 by Inter-Agency Expert Group on SDGs in October 2017. Echoing the efforts of the Global Donor Working Group on Land, in reaching out and mobilizing relevant data that respond to the agreed questions from the EGM on 1.4.2 in Washington, Caleb noted the importance of this efforts in establishing the baseline data needed to support the re-classifying bid for this indicator from Tier III to Tier II in October 2017. While acknowledging high level of confidence expressed by global land experts on the agreed list of questions at the EGM on 1.4.2, USAID expressed support for this indicator and commitment to continue supporting the efforts of the custodian agencies including testing to reflect on the validity of the agreed question in its on-going initiatives.

All presenters unanimously agreed with the need to ensure coordinated multi-stakeholders efforts to support the work of the custodian agencies to secure this indicator in the SDGs monitoring framework including the contributions of the CSOs; a role that GLII continues to play; while pursuing alignment with other land governance frameworks including VGGTs, and the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa.

While acknowledging that this is an important land indictor in the SDGs, all other land indicators as included in SDGs 2, 5, 11 and 15 remain critical to advancing sustainable land governance agenda and enabling comparable monitoring of critical land governance issues and their contribution in achieving SDGs by 2030. More work needs to be done to ensure comprehensive monitoring of land governance issues beyond the provisions of land indicators in the SDGs; including application of GLII indicators for complimentary data on land governance issues going beyond the SDGs and encompassing other land governance frameworks. 

This webinar has certainly increased participants level of awareness, understanding and appreciation of the importance of perception of tenure security; and the critical ingredients of tenure security. Did you miss the webinar? Never mind, here you will find the presentations from our experts referenced in this reflection note. Further, a video link to the webinar will soon be made available for viewing.

Are you planning to attend the LANDac Conference? If so, this discussion continues on to the LANDac Conference coming up next week in the Netherlands where a high level panel will reflect on this discussion and respond to your questions.  You can send us your inputs including brief write ups, comments on the discussion shared and ask your questions and we will review and respond to online and respond to them directly at the LANDac Conference. It will be good to hear from you.


More Information:


Thanks to our co-organizers of the webinar:

Global Land Indicators Initiative/GLTN, LANDac, USAID, LandPortal Foundation andLand Alliance

Special recognition of our supporters:            

UKAID, LEGEND, Omidyar Network, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and UNHABITAT

Well there are various range (continum of rights) within the tenure continuum. The relationship with land varies from place to place. In Africa, relationship with land is on daily basis. majority of families has something on land, ranging from pets, animals to small gardens and events. Therefore the use of land for a particular time without eviction can be regarded as secured. 

The problem with tenure security is always located at the extreme end of informal land tenure. Perhaps this problem exist as a result of the negative perception infomality connotes. When a set of people are excluded especially the poor they have no option than to find alternative shelter and location which most times are areas within the urban centres, the Periurban areas and farmlands and sometimes in precarious location close to source of livelihood. 

The poor therefore has different perception towards tenure security because of the temporality of the makeshift dwellings the occupy. Sometimes the land is not paid for so they understand there is no security. The fulani nomads in Nigeria see no reson to acquire a piece of land for security. although increasing cattle rustling and clashes with farmers and communities has led to policy makers seeking for solution to end the crises. The fulani cattle herder see no reason to settle in a fixed location and therefore percived tenure security differently.

Street hawkers percieve tenure differently as well, as a result of the temporary nature of hawking and street trading. They are aware that government official could be around anytime. For them perception of security is only that time they are not forced to leave.

Perception is measured differently depending on the side of continum the tenure is, ranging from formal tenure to Non-formal tenure within the continum of rights.

I love the fact that you brought some interesting and perhaps unexpected urban land issues into this discussion. The place (and rights) of street vendors is becoming increasingly controversial around the Mekong region, despite the reality that street vending is an important part of the region's urban cultures. It seems that we seldom think about how a pavement seller's space (which they  and their family may have occupied for generations) is actually a customary land use/land tenure claim. It's not unusual for vendors - who have no title and who may actually be considered illegal - to even sell their spot on to another.  However, these are tenure claims that will almost certainly fall under the radar of the SDG land indicator.

Thanks very much Ms. Solina Solomon and Ms. Everlyne Nairesiae for these reflections and materials. Would encourage everyone to click through to the webinar presentations on survey data for indicator 1.4.2.   

Robert Ndugwa's summary includes the recommended core survey questions for servicing indicator 1.4.2: [Robert's slide 16:]

Agreed on a core set of questions for servicing indicator 1.4.2. Perception of Tenure 1) How likely are you to have a loss of your land/property or use right in the next 5 years? (very likely, somewhat likely, not likely) * If likely/somewhat likely, what is the source of the potential conflict or loss of land/property (national government, local authorities, commercial, family members, other individuals) 2) Do you have the right to exclusively or jointly bequeath your land/property? (yes individually, yes jointly, no) Legally recognized documentation *Country specific; administrative data may be enough for some countries (How to merge with admin?) 1) Do you have property/tenure rights over this land/property or another land/property? (If yes what type) 2) Do you have documentation (of the property rights) on this land/property or another land/property? (yes this property, yes some properties, yes all my properties, no documentation) 3) What is the documentation over the land/property? (Each country must be consulted on type of documentation that is legally recognized and various forms of documentation; use pictures for enumerators) * If yes, can you show us the documentation and whose name is on the document? (enumerator codes accordingly whether doc seen or not and whether legal or not) *Important to be legally recognized documentation Disaggregation Gender of respondent: male/female Tenure type: (country specific)freehold, leasehold, etc… Land use type: residential, agricultural, pastoral, business, forest, community/group/parcel share, other (potential drop as not needed for disaggregation but needed for 5.a.1 for what is ag land vs not) *Need for testing and requires context/purpose on each question (also experience using these questions) 

I think it is a big step forward to propose a reduced-form set of questions which encompass the three elements in indicator 1.4.2.

An interesting topic! When you look at existing data sources like LGAF, IPRI, GODI, etc. there seems to be a bias towards individual titled land which can be sold on an open market. IN customary systems you would, for example, not expect many households to have written documents, but customary systems can have secure tenure without such documentation. Also the land generally cannot be sold on the open market and in many communal systems (e.g. in Latin America) the only written documentation is for the community as a whole....

How is PRINDEX handling this situation and do you use different questions for customary tenure interviews? Also how does this affect how the SDG 1.4.2 indicator is measured - will you find that people's perception of tenure security is good, but they don't have written documentation?

Thanks in advance.


Thank you Barnes for the question. Just a quick comment for further deliberation. first of all customary tenure has excedded its expectation contrary to what is generally concieved as customary or oral agreement as some will say. It is not entirely true as well that customary tenure is undocumented as customary tenure and statutory tenure are both legal tenures in Nigeria and are documented titles. There are several literatures on customary tenure and it has been argued that it has achieved more in the last decades and if monitored and evaluated it can achieve as much as statutory tenure (Quan 2000, Bruce 2012, Payne 2012, Ikejiofor 2008). Secondly customary tenure predates statutory tenure making it difficult to erase customary tenure in favor of statutory tenure. However, the perception of tenure security may be good  yet operating withing unathorised development or without titles, as a result of government inability to plan with the rapid population growth thus government respond through cheaper alternatives of land formalisation. Since perception is varied, I will say SDG 1.4.2. Indicator has to critically evaluate each country context and not transfer an idea from one region simply because it has worked in such place. nNt also forgeting history and culture shapes certain locations of Africa, Asia and Latin America.

What data is needed to measure tenure security for all? What is available, and what are the plans for collecting the required datasets?

Tier 1: Indicator conceptually clear, established methodology and standards available and data regularly produced by countries. Tier 2: Indicator conceptually clear, established methodology and standards available but data are not regularly produced by countries. Tier 3: Indicator for which there are no established methodology and standards or methodology/standards are being developed/tested.

Requirement : Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, • with legally recognized documentation and • who perceive their rights to land as secure, – by sex and by type of tenure.

Metadata and work plans update as of June 2017

 various proposals on methodology agreed btn WB and UN-Habitat and other partners.

 3 EGMs in 2017

How do we understand the perception of tenure security?

an individual’s or group’s experience of their tenure situation or their estimate probability that their land rights will not be lost

De facto tenure security - the actual control of land and residential property, regardless of the legal status in which it is held (the length of time of occupation, its socially accepted legitimacy, the level and cohesion of community organization)


What gender and other group dynamics that need to be considered in collecting, analyzing and reporting on perceptions and legal documentation?


Gender of respondent: male/female

Tenure type: (country specific)freehold, leasehold, etc…

Land use type: residential, agricultural, pastoral, business, forest, community/group/parcel share, other (potential drop as not needed for disaggregation but needed for 5.a.1 for what is ag land vs not)

Different approaches for measuring tenure security using survey data – Impact Evaluations (USAID, MCC, etc.) – Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) – PRIndex – FAO 5a Pilot (EDGE) – Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS)


What are some of the best practices we have on how perception data has been collected and disseminated? (Existing or developing), challenges and opportunities. 

Different approaches for measuring tenure security using survey data – Impact Evaluations (USAID, MCC, etc.) – Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) – PRIndex – FAO 5a Pilot (EDGE) – Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS)

GLTN (the Global Land Tools Network, initiated and hosted by UN Habitat), to establish a Global Land Indicators Initiative (GLII) a platform for knowledge generation, sharing and dissemination on land indicators, which aims to develop a set of core land indicators to measure tenure security . An initial Conceptual Framework for the Development of Global Land Indicators has been formulated (GLII 2015).


An increasing number of crowdsourcing of land rights initiatives are emerging to provide increased security of tenure to vulnerable communities. A selection are discussed below: • Rights Resources Initiative (RRI) – RRI’s forest tenure database is an interactive tool to compare changes in legal forest ownership from 2002 to 2013 between countries, regions, and lower- and middle-income countries. The quantitative approach monitors spatial forest tenure data—that is, who owns how many hectares of a given forest. RRI recognizes four categories of land ownership: owned by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, designated for Indigenous Peoples and local communities, administered by governments, and owned by individuals and private firms. Learn more about these categories here. This statutory forest dataset currently covers 52 countries containing nearly 90% of the world’s forests. Much of the information is crowdsourced. (http://www.rightsandresources.org/en/resources/tenure-data/tenure-data-t... ) • Rainforest Foundation UK - Rainforest Foundation UK's "Mapping for Rights" program has been active in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It trains forest people to map their land using GPS devices, marking the areas they use for activities such as hunting and fishing -- as well as their sacred sites -- and the routes they use to access these vital areas. The information captured is used to create a definitive map of the land used by these seminomadic communities, which can be used to challenge decisions that see them excluded from areas of forest (http://ictupdate.cta.int/en/Feature-Articles/Crowdsourced-landrights/%28... ). • Open Tenure (SOLA) - Open Tenure supports a crowd sourcing approach to the collection of tenure related details by communities. Once the community has discussed and agreed to the way tenure right claims will be collected, moderated and displayed a Community Server will be established (possibly as a cloud-based server) and community members with specific roles in this process will be trained (http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/nr/land_tenure/OPEN_TENURE.pdf). • Landmapp – Landmapp is a mobile platform that provides smallholder farmer families with documentation of their land. They also provide them a profile with which they can access technical and financial services that are precisely tailored to their circumstances (http://www.landmapp.net). • Cadasta Foundation – This foundation is implementing a global platform to manage crowdsourced land rights information. It is due for release in 2016 and could provide a common platform for all the currently discrete land rights initiatives to manage evidence of land rights and create transparency and publicity (http://cadasta.org).  STDM - A pro-poor, gender responsive and participatory land information model recognising the need for legal pluralism and a broader set of person-land relationships found in legitimate tenure types. GLTN have also produced a STDM solution, based on QGIS, that manages land rights data in the STDM model (http://www.stdm.gltn.net/; FIG/GLTN, 2010).


source: https://www.fig.net/resources/proceedings/fig_proceedings/fig2016/papers...

Formulating a common indicator to measure land tenure security is an incredibly difficult task and I commend the organizers of this forum for having taken the first steps in this direction. Everlyne Naireiae mentioned in her contribution that the perception of land tenure security is contextual and situational. I agree with this view, and I will go as far as to suggest that we should view all forms of land tenure as “social constructions.” In the words of anthropologist Katherine Verdery, we should treat land tenure “as simultaneously a cultural system, a set of relations, and an organization of power.” Similarly, Nancy Peluso and Jesse Ribot have argued that we should conceptualize property not as a “bundle of rights” but as a “bundle of powers”—since what matters is not whether an individual has title or not but rather whether one can access the benefits derived from the resource. This means that land tenure systems work in specific and that institutional arrangements, such as the land registration system, do not over-determine the performance of land markets, etc. In this forum, Grenville Barnes already mentioned how tenure security in a community property regime follows a different logic than in an open land market.

Although any kind of “thick description” of land tenure is by definition incompatible with the standardization of an indicator, I think it is important to be careful about how we construct a measurement for tenure security. The text of the indicator 1.4.2 already seems to equate “legally recognized documentation” with tenure security. From the perspective of political economy, however, legal documentation that transforms land into a marketable asset could be making land tenure more insecure for small farmers rather than the opposite expected result (see the case of land titling in Peten, Guatemala and the more generally the critique of land governance). Again, context matters for assessing land tenure security.

Given this complexity, I agree with Malcolm Childress that “individual perception of tenure security” is possibly the best way forward. In this phenomenological approach, we assume that the individual has internalized the social context into their perception. I am unclear, however, how the data would be aggregated to measure indicator 1.4.2. (% of population). In his second post, Malcolm mentioned the core set of questions for servicing indicator 1.4.2 that have already been agreed upon. Each question by itself is quite useful and could be applied to a continuum of rights, but I do not see how they would add up to the measurement of indicator 1.4.2. There should be clear guidelines for how to interpret the dimensions of tenure security and legal documentation separately and in relation to each other, as well as how to aggregate the data in order to measure indicator 1.4.2. This analysis could be quite useful in telling us when perception of security correlates with legal documentation and when it doesn’t. I fear that this phenomenological dimension of the tenure security measurement would be lost if we simply assume that tenure security follows directly from legal documentation.

Finally, I want to raise attention to one limitation in measuring perception. This is a form of methodological individualism that may be inadequate for assessing the economic and social structures that ultimately shape the conditions for land tenure security. In other words, individuals may only have partial information about their own security of tenure. It would be ideal if national statistical agencies could also collect information on land access in order to measure structural factors such as land inequality (GINI coefficient). I’m always appalled at how outdated and inconsistent are the measurements of the land GINI for agricultural land across countries (which of course depends on the periodicity of the agricultural survey). I’m aware that I’m jumping into a different subject but I think it is important to pair data on land tenure perception with structural data on land concentration.

Again, thank you for inviting us to this discussion and for all the groundwork that has been done to systematize an indicator for land tenure security.    


Grandia, L. (2012). Enclosed: Conservation, Cattle, and Commerce among the Q’eqchi’Maya Lowlanders. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Li, T. M. (2014). What is land? Assembling a resource for global investment. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 39(4), 589-602.

Ribot, J. C., & Peluso, N. L. (2003). A Theory of Access. Rural Sociology, 68(2), 153-181.

Verdery, K. (2003). The vanishing hectare: property and value in postsocialist Transylvania. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

I would like to thank Fernando Galeano for raising the situation northern Guatemala, and his insightful perspective on it. I would just like to underline a few points.

What happened in northern Guatemala with the World Bank Land Administration Program (phase 1) should be a warning to everyone, on any continent, that documentation (titles) should not be equated with land tenure security. The case illustrates how titling and the opening of land markets to new buyers can make women, families, and communities more insecure and vulnerable to loss of land. The case in Guatemala is tragic, because the program led to a new dispossession of indigenous families in a country that had just come out of a genocidal war.

To state the obvious, people generally live in communities, not as isolated families.  When a lack of support for small-scale agriculture, threats of violence, or economic pressures, lead some individuals to sell to land accumulators for an agribusiness, a community can begin to look like a piece of swiss cheese with too many holes, or perhaps an island in a sea of oil palm.  People are forced to leave because community institutions can’t be maintained.  In the areas where the World Bank project was reviewed, 45% of the land titled changed hands in 5 years, much of it going to those accumulating land for cattle or oil palm. Nor do titles necessarily provide tenure security for women in this situation. Alonso-Fradejas research (2012)in the region found that 86% of women in households who sold land to palm oil companies said they opposed the sale, but could not prevent it even though their names had been the titles as co-owners with their spouses in many cases. Many men also said they sold land unwillingly and at prices that did not provide for adequate alternatives.

I would also like to express appreciation for Galeano’s perspective on the 1.4.2 indicator. I think that the developers of the indicator have tried to avoid equating documentation with security, but it is important that personnel administering surveys should be clear that documentation and perceptions of security are separate questions. On the other hand, while perceptions are important, individuals do not always have full information about their relative security or insecurity. Thus it is important that information be collected at multiple levels.  Governments should consider collecting information about sources of tenure insecurity, as well as the degree of tenure inequality. Since land tenure is always a cultural system and an organization of power. We must recognize that the resistance to collecting this data often serves the interests of power.  National governments and donors need to recognize that organizations of indigenous peoples and communities are crucial in creating tenure security for livelihoods as well as systems of managing, inheriting and transferring land.  Land documents and registries can be used to support this, or they can be used to undermine the security of marginalized communities.

In addition to the sources cited by Galeano, see:

Alberto Alonso-Fradejas (2012): Land control-grabbing in Guatemala: the

political economy of contemporary agrarian change, Canadian Journal of Development Studies/

Revue canadienne d'études du développement, 33:4, 509-528

Grunberg, Jorge. 2012. Tierra e igualdad : desafíos para la administracion de tierras en peten Guatemala. Washington DC ; World Bank.

The contributions of Fernando Galeano and those of Dr. Doug Hertzler are very insightful. It has been pointed out that legal documentation does not (necessarily) guarantee tenure security. What it does more is probably to give the bearer the 'licence' to sell land which they otherwise would not. Building on this, I would like to propose three aspects that might be useful to consider in the quest to measure perception of tenure security:

1. If there is a general consensus that land tenure security is about how governments can effectively protect citizens from land dispossession/evictions, then governance, the rule of law, institutional and policy effectiveness should be part of the equation of this endeavour. Ultimately, it is the government that designs the rules that govern tenure security;

2. It might be useful to propose that tenure security has spatial and temporal dimensions. Communities in areas with high economic potential such as mining areas or game reserves are more likely to be evicted than those in areas that have little economic value. Those with bigger parcels are also more likely to be 'asked to share' than those with small parcels. On the temporal side of tenure security, it could be argued that overtime, land has gained in value thanks to the insantiable appetite to develop our societies with infrastructure and others. With the socio-economic boom in the developing world, communities have a cause to feel even more insecure. An extension of the temporal dimension of tenure security is that the longer you occupy a parcel of land, the more likely you are to feel more tenure secure. This is particularly the case on customary land with no legal documentation. The spatial and temporal dimensions of tenure security are important elements in the continuum of not only tenure rights but also tenure security as they are two sides of the same coin; and

3. The third element that builds on the two preceeding points is that tenure security has to be contextualised to rationalise the quest to measure the perception of it. That is, it makes sense to measure tenure security only where it is applicable. I will contend two situations where measuring tenure security will be of little value: 1) where an individual has nothing to call land; and 2) where there is no threat that an individual sees or perceives to what they have. In the first case, an individual can only talk about other people's experiences, if they have seen any. In the second case, without a threat, tenure (in)security is outside the realm of how they perceive their relationship with land or indeed any other resource. 'Nobody builds an arsenal unless they plan to go to war, or they perceive a threat.' 

Wrapping up my contribution, an attempt to measure the perception of tenure security in a meaningful and comparable manner is a herculean task. The attempt needs to recognise that people's perception of their tenure security is influenced by how they trust their government and its institutions. In some remote areas, people only get to see the government vehicles during election time! The attempt needs to account for the temporal and spatial dimensions and how these influence people's sense of feeling of being tenure secured. It will also need to target the 'correct' groups of people to interview.  

Tenure system is different not only by countries, but also by types of land use, which is depend on largely from existing policy and legal framework. There are complexity of rights for the access and to use of benefits of land and other natural resources makes the tenure system evolving and changing all the time. Therefore to collect data on secure rights of land use types, which overlapped in many cases is always issue of accuracy. Also in many cases traditional land use rights of common natural resources, such as pasture/rangelands are legally not recognized, but they are used commonly.  Therefore no one responsible for external cost of pasture degradation. So rights and responsibilities are closely linked in land tenure system.  In Central Asian countries secure tenure rights based on benefit sharing among the key stakeholders of rangeland use/management. Understanding the direct and indirect benefits of common resources use, such as rangelands is starting point. The clear benefit sharing system by using policy, legal framework on economic incentives and regulatory instruments can be also important for   measuring/collecting data on   securing tenure rights.  In Mongolian case, pasture land under common use, and traditional rights of herder’s on pasture use are not legalized, but there are traditional rights on seasonal pasture use are respected by herder’s and local governments and using somehow “co-management” approaches. Can we use it as data for tenure rights? 


Also in our case Law on Forest ((2007, 2012 ) in Mongolia, legalizing allocation of forest land to the communities, and currently more than 3,8 mln ha forest area allocated to more than 1232  local communities and  Forest User Groups (FUG), with around 26,862 members,  however by sub-laws, to these local communities (FUG’s) not allowed to harvest timber in their forest land under their approved Forest Management Plans. In this case is it secure tenure rights for forest land or forest resources? Can we use it as data for securing land use rights?

Progress on The Land Indicators

Since the adoption of the global indicator framework by the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) back in March 2016, significant progress has been made on the land indicators.

In March 2017, the FAO – in collaboration with other key partners – was able to secure the upgrade of indicator 5.a.1 from Tier III to Tier II, and are currently piloting the proposed methodology for indicator 5.a.2.

UN-Habitat and The World Bank, as custodian agencies for indicator 1.4.2, are currently developing a methodology for monitoring tenure security.

The proposed methodology for indicator 1.4.2 explores the use of various household data collection methods, as well as administrative data sources – both of which are known to have their distinct advantages and limitations, as has already been acknowledged by GLII partners and custodian agencies.

Continued consultations with national statistical offices (NSOs) will be critical to addressing specific limitations, and agreeing on robust, coherent, and complementary proxies for monitoring tenure security.

Issues related to cost, quality control, data gaps, inconsistent metadata, and relevance of the data must be addressed before the convening of the IAEG-SDGs in October 2017. I therefore keenly look forward to the results of the pilots currently being undertaken in selected cities – a key element in facilitating the reclassification of indicator 1.4.2, as was rightly indicated in Robert’s presentation.



GLII partners have actively demonstrated their commitment to highlighting land and property rights for women across the land indicators. This is indeed commendable, and I too look forward to adding my voice to that conversation throughout the various rounds of reclassification.

I must however raise a particular concern regarding the phrasing and therefore the disaggregation facilitated by indicator 1.4.2, which has quite notably omitted the ‘Age’ parameter.

While 1.4.2 has stated “Proportion of total adult population with secure rights…”, it must be noted that on the basis of the definitions of ‘Youth’ endorsed by the United Nations (15 – 24), The AU's African Youth Charter (15 – 35), and UN-Habitat’s Youth Fund (15 – 32), a large percentage of youth (18 – 24/ 18 – 35) are captured within the demographic of 1.4.2. As currently phrased, 1.4.2 will not facilitate reporting on the proportion of youth (of adult age) with secure rights to land.

Similar arguments presented for securing women’s land and property rights can be offered for the youth demographic, as both are classified as vulnerable groups in many cultural contexts.

The statistics reveal the troubling reality of the economic and social vulnerability of the youth demographic. It is estimated that 240 million youth live on less than US$1.00 per day; that youth unemployment is 3-times greater than adult unemployment; and that 2 in 3 youth are not fulfilling their economic potential. These challenges are not uncommon to women across the developing world, and improving their tenure security has been identified by GLII partners as an avenue for escaping poverty.

So even as we pursue coordinated and harmonized approaches in monitoring women’s land rights across the land indicators – of which I am a staunch advocate – I strongly suggest that consideration be given to the youth demographic with the inclusion of 'Age' as a parameter in indicator 1.4.2. Similar consideration can be given across the various land indicators following the IAEG-SDGs meeting in October. 

The following short documentary offers an overview of the subject of ‘Youth and Land’ in the context of the SDGs:


I would like to make two remarks.

First, I couldn't agree more with Fernando when he addresses the perception measurement problem, writing: "... individuals may only have partial information about their own security of tenure." Indeed, the problem with 'perception' is not only how to measure it, but also whether, once measured, it is a reliable indicator of tenure security. Think of Arthur Dent, who wakes up in his nice house in the West Country, looks out the window and sees a 'big yellow bulldozer advancing up his garden path' (Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's guide to the Galaxy). No doubt Arthur Dent's perception of  his tenure security was very positive -until the bulldozers came and 'crawled over the rubble that had been his home'. My point being, of course, that many people think, or perceive (or hope?) that no-one can get them off their land or out of their house - but it happens. A positive perception of tenure security can be very erroneous.

My other point is more of a question. While reading the previous contributions, I wondered more and more why virtually no mention was made of the LGAF as (part of) a gateway to operationalisation of the SDG indicator. The potential is there: I mean, the LGAF is, as far as I know, the only assessment framework that has been applied to many countries, hence enabling comparison,and the LGAF scorecards are in fact a list of scores on indicators, with LGI-1 and 2 addressing tenure security. Why not expand and improve (because there is room for improvement, for instance the absence of many countries, and of a ranking of countries in terms of the quality of their land governance) something that is already there, instead of re-inventing the wheel and building something completely new? The brief answer by prof. Barnes is not entirely convincing, since the LGAF does pay attention to a continuum of rights and customary tenure rights. 

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute to this important issue.

The SDGs provide an important means of raising issues of tenure security to policy makers globally. However, measuring perceptions is fraught with difficulty given the essentially subjective nature of the issue. 

I agree with Grenville Barnes that there is a bias of considering tenure to be a title that can be bought and sold on the market. He rightly mentions customary tenure but there are also religious (eg Islamic) and state tenure regimes which do not permit or recognise the right to buy and sell land. I enjoyed the quotation from Douglas Adams about perceptions of security and it brings to mind an interview in Bangladesh with a home owner who told me he owned the land as well as his extremely modest house. When asked if he had documents he proudly showed me a document that said in English (which he could not read) that he was permitted to occupy the land until the legal owner wanted it. On the contrary, in Trinidad and Tobago, residents were perfectly secure with a 'Certificate of Comfort' and in other places with no legal tenure residents had high levels of perceived security without any legal status, simply becase there had never been any reports of evictions, while we all know of places where residents with legal documents have been evicted on some pretext or other. 

The issue is therefore how to represent this diversity of perception. I can only suggest that people are asked if they feel: 1) very secure; 2) reasonably secure; 3) not very secure, or; 4) very insecure and that these be checked against a comprehensive list of de facto tenure categories, not just officially registered categories, incuding customary, religious and state owned regimes.

The Challenge

It is understood that making reporting on tenure security globally comparable, is not impossible, but does present a number of challenges.

For example, assessments based primarily on the availability of documented evidence of ownership/ rights are typically oversimplified and can be misleading in the case of countries and regions with diverse property systems.

Similarly, assessments based on perceptions of tenure security may need to consider a diversity of perceptions, as individual behaviours and responses to varying degrees of land tenure security – on the basis of the degree of recognition of land rights, protection against dispossession, and sufficiently extended durations of such rights – may consequently vary from region to region, country to country, or even municipality to municipality (in larger countries).

For localized assessments, the tendency will be to assume homogenous perceptions of tenure security – particularly within a common historical, cultural, and social context. This becomes a challenge when the historical, cultural, and social context changes – which also complicates global comparisons of perceptions of tenure.

Looking at it from the perspective of Payne’s ‘Notional Typology of Land Tenure and Property Rights’, or the ‘Bundle of Rights’, it is understood that rights and responsibilities – and therefore attitudes and perceptions – may vary across jurisdictions, as the legal systems may respond differently to each individual right, thus influencing individual perceptions on a given land tenure arrangement.


Simple & Practical Solutions for Global Reporting

The May 2017 EGM held in Washington DC, may have addressed this particular issue by simply inserting the caveat that “Each country must be consulted on the type of documentation that is legally recognized, and the various forms of documentation.”

The perception data – when combined with data on the availability of legally recognized documentation – is critical to understanding how persons are responding to specific land tenure arrangements, and why. The core questions identified for indicator 1.4.2 at the Washington DC EGM will allow us to do just that.

Additionally, once GLII positions itself to adequately address the specific limitations of administrative data – such as quality control, data gaps, inconsistent metadata, and relevance of the data – such data can in many instances ease the burden (cost, time, logistics, etc.) of undertaking comprehensive household surveys. The big question is: How do we address these limitations on a global scale – from country to country?


The Core Questions identified for Indicator 1.4.2 are:

Perception of Tenure

  1. How likely are you to have a loss of your land/ property/ use right in the next 5 years? Response options: a) Very Likely b) Somewhat Likely c) Not Likely
  2. If Very Likely/ Somewhat Likely, what is the source of the potential conflict or loss of land/ property? Response options: a) National Government b) Local Authorities c) Commercial d) Family Members e) Other Individuals (Or Entities)
  3. Do you have the right to exclusively or jointly bequeath your land/ property? Response options: a) Yes Individually b) Yes Jointly c) No

Legally recognized documentation

  1. Do you have property/tenure rights over this land/property or another land/property?
    • If yes, what type?
  2. Do you have documentation (of the property rights) on this land/property or another land/property? Response options: a) Yes this property b) Yes some properties c) Yes all my properties d) No Documentation)
    • What is the documentation over the land/ property?
    • If yes, can you show us the documentation and whose name is on the document?

Great opportunity to be discussing with the masters.

My question is about informality and how to measure the perception of tenure security considering intra-family land disputes.

In the rural areas of Pernambuco, Brazil, most families are not "legally"married (informality needs to be considered not just in the land registration system) and when an unmarried father dies, he leaves for the entire family just a right to inheritance certificate, which is a legal document. This situation can go on for many generations, land being informally transfered over many generations. In such circunstances, women and girls are most vulnerable to loose their rights to the land.

In these areas, women's access to land is mostly through inheritance.

Therefore, my question is how to measure tenure security in such informal environmental and how to specify the recognition of documentation. Recognized by whom? Recognized by the state and land administration or we want also to measure the degree of family/community recognition of women's land rights?

The state and land administration will most probably privilege the men when registering the land and not observing women's inheritance and marital rights, specially if there is no formal marriage.

How are we dealing with this issue?

Thanks for your contribution, Patricia.  There are some really interesting points here.  To your specific point on state and land administration privileging men, it is true that in certain contexts, women seem to rely on men to contact government or state officials and often tend to visit them in male presence.  I wonder if somehow women were to do this on their own terms, getting into the habit of informing themselves with appropriate state officials, would possibly get them access to different types of information regarding their tenure rights.   

Hello fellow participants,

I share with you here a brief which discussed tenure security and makes a distinction between tenure, security of tenure, property rights and title, which is important to the extent that by doing so one is able to explore a range of tenure typologies, recognise the importance of tenure security and explore the nuances in the term property rights. The brief demonstrates that tenure can be placed across a spectrum that is fluid and that tenure types are varied and emerge in complex environments This is important to recognise because in a developmental context these terms take on a particular significance and challenge prevailing approaches and thereby open avenues for exploring how to address tenure in particular contexts.  

I invite you to have a look and feel free to get back to me with any questions.

Thank you,



I've enjoyed reading the comments and the discussion and this is such an important topic.  I agree with many of the points, particularly on customary and other forms of tenure, but my concern is that in a globablizing world, land is increasingly a global commodity and customary arrangements may not be enough in many places to ensure tenure security - perception of security may not be enough.  How do we maintain those important local, customary, collective relationships while also securing the land for the current and future inhabitants? 

Dear Jamal, you are giving us some light and guidance. However, how can we assume perceptions of tenure security in a certain contexts without addressing the huge challenge faced by women and the disparities in the access to knowledge and information?

Let's consider the huge inequality that women face in the access, use and control over land and to economic resources. So, how are we going to measure the perception of tenure security, without exploring that field?  Can we make general questions to both men and women? Is that the proposal?

What you are proposing:

The Core Questions identified for Indicator 1.4.2 are:

Perception of Tenure

  1. How likely are you to have a loss of your land/ property/ use right in the next 5 years? Response options: a) Very Likely b) Somewhat Likely c) Not Likely
  2. If Very Likely/ Somewhat Likely, what is the source of the potential conflict or loss of land/ property? Response options: a) National Government b) Local Authorities c) Commercial d) Family Members e) Other Individuals (Or Entities)
  3. Do you have the right to exclusively or jointly bequeath your land/ property? Response options: a) Yes Individually b) Yes Jointly c) No

Legally recognized documentation

  1. Do you have property/tenure rights over this land/property or another land/property?
    • If yes, what type?
  2. Do you have documentation (of the property rights) on this land/property or another land/property? Response options: a) Yes this property b) Yes some properties c) Yes all my properties d) No Documentation)
    • What is the documentation over the land/ property?
    • If yes, can you show us the documentation and whose name is on the document?

With that questions we will not capture the gender gap and the huge difference in the insecurity women face if compared to men in the same conditions.

We need to consider that the simpler is not the best and that we cannot loose the SDGs opportunity to address the dramatic inequality, insecurity and despossession women face in relation to their right to land, neither loose the opportunity to measure that inequality.

Dear Patricia, thanks for your very candid feedback and question. It is always a pleasure exchanging ideas with you. Now the core questions identified at the Washington DC EGM in May are by no means standalone questions for monitoring indicator 1.4.2, but are proposed for use alongside household surveys (disaggregated by gender), and are likely to be supplemented by administrative data (also disaggregated by gender).

The Property Rights Index (PRIndex) is an example of a comprehensive and gendered survey tool highlighted in the recently held webinar on 'Tenure Security & Indicator 1.4.2'.

Importantly, PRIndex probes deeply into prominent gender issues and perception of tenure security. The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) and the Living Standards Measurement Study (LSMS) were also highlighted at the webinar - both giving strong consideration to women's rights, with the LSMS offering new recommendations on collecting intra-household data on asset ownership and rights.

I hope this brief response clarifies any concerns you may have regarding the core questions, and their role in monitoring indicator 1.4.2.

Thanks so much to everybody for joining the discussion this week!  We really appreciate the contributions from Salina Solomon, Joy Obadoba, Grenville Barnes, Manohar Velpuri, Fernando Galeana, Jamal Browne, Hijaba Ykhanbaj, Jur Shuurman, Geoffrey Payne and Patricia Chaves. 

It is fantastic that the discussion has already touched specifically on experiences in  Brazil, Bangladesh,  Guatemala, Jamaica, Mongolia, Trinidad and Tobago, Republic of Congo, and on many regional and global issues and programs. And even wandered further into the universe of the Hitchhiker's Guide! 

Jamal Browne's film about land rights for youth in the SDG's is encouraging and beautifully produced--I really picked up on its call for "new functional partnerships between governments, development agencies, civil society and private sector" and emphasis on youth as the demographic cohort with the incentives to drive changes politically. 

I think the discussion has been extremely rich so far.  I see three main lines of debate: 

1) The contextual specificity of perceptions of tenure security, and the limitations that creates for attempts to generate and aggregate comparable data from survey data; 

2) The relationship  between perceptions of tenure security and the presence or absence of legally-recognized documentation, and potential biases and problems with equating tenure security with individual tenure and statutory title. 

3) The data sources for land tenure security indicator SDG 1.4.2. and for other land-related SDG goal indicators (2,5,11,15), the possibilities to rationalize/utilize the multiple sources of existing data, and questions of disaggregation, intra-family variation, and wider measures of structural insecurity. 

In the first line of debate, I think the message is to recognize the limitations of a reduced-form set of questions in the face of the wide continuum of land rights and their complexity. But recognizing those limitations doesn't mean that the reduced-from questions are not meaningful. Rather it means we need to also be concerned with the thick description--local, qualitative accounts--to understand and interpret what lies behind responses to the general questions. 

The consensus I am reading in the discussion is that we feel the reduced-form SDG questions are relevant and meaningful, but need to be interpreted with care and will often need additional layers of localized data and interpretation to become useful for local policy reform. Cross-country comparisons using the reduced-form questions will face a challenge to fully reconcile perceptions from different legal and cultural contexts, but there seems to be a good degree of agreement that the core concepts are understood similarly around the world. 

In the second line of debate the discussion so far points out two dramatically different views of potential relationships between perception of security and legally-recognized documentation. One view sees the relationship as positive, with legally-recognized documentation supporting perceptions of security. 

The other view--as represented in the discussion of cases from Guatemalan farmers, Brazilian women, and Mongolian forest communities, African communal lands--sees a relationship in which legal recognition leads to perceptions of insecurity for specific groups where traditional, informal or family-derived rights are weakened by legal recognition which expose them to market forces, state claims, or claims of male family members.

I see the existence of these two different types of relationships as a good justification for asking about perceptions. Where data show a discrepancy between citizens' perceptions of tenure security and legally-recognized documentation, that should be a signal that the legal system is not working for these groups and needs policy/political attention. 

In the third line of debate, the discussion is pointing us to a lot of data sources for SDG 1.4.2. and beyond, and also I think pointing out the need to rationalize data collection for the multiple SDG indicators that feature land. I was glad that Jur pointed out how much coverage of tenure security already exists in LGAF, and agree the LGAF data need to be better reported as a globally comparable data source. My own view is that LGAF needs to be complemented by country survey data including perceptions, in order to get a statistically representative data in addition to LGAF's expert-opinion data. For global data purposes I think we want core land tenure questions to work for as many indicators as possible, and to be able to ride on almost any available survey instrument--PRIndex, MICS, DHS, LSMS, etc.  In the future I think we also want to use geospatial data to interpret the land tenure indicator to spatially target areas with concentrations of tenure problems. 

It is also exciting to recognize--from Manohar's post--the increasing availability of new sources of data from crowd-sourcing and the application of people-centered tools. Some of these tools are beginning to erase the boundaries between datasets of individual perceptions, and datasets of actual claims. While much of them are in early stages of development, it seems increasingly possible and plausible that citizen-led mapping and documentation of existing rights can scale massively.  In that scenario, which may not be too far off, we could conceivably move beyond surveys to a kind of action-census on land rights in which data collection about occupants' status is systematized across a jurisdiction and directly connected to administrative and judicial processes as needed. 

I'm looking forward to continuing the discussion with you!   I hope that we will also hear more from actors in national statistics and the household survey worlds, and from the academic research community. 

With respect the legal component of SDG indicator 1.4.2, as the SDG process unfolds it's important to recognize certain research and data-gathering constraints up front, so they come as no surprise later in the process. Of course I agree with the message that we must monitor and collect robust and reliable information. However, we as the public must understand who controls and manages the information-gathering process, and acknowledge potential reasons for data gaps and inaccurate information. SDG information is collected at the country level by governments. These government bodies may have certain limitations, inefficiencies or incentives that could result in skewed data and information. In some cases, governments may have good intentions but may be wrong about tenure issues happening on the ground. This may not  necessarily happen in every country, but in some countries governments may make decisions about legal recognition that conflict with viewpoints and interests of certain segments of the population. If the history of contestation over land teaches us anything about what may happen in the future, government interpretations of the legal rights of communities with customary tenure may differ from the interpretations of the communities (see LandMark- which shows percentages of community land acknowledged and not acknowledged by governments). The gap between legally recognized and customarily held land continues to be a prevailing issue at odds with sustainable development objectives (see LandMark and RRI report for more info). For this reason, there is a risk that some governments may fail to sufficiently recognize the legal rights of many indigenous and local communities to such an extent that these communities can be considered a success story behind SDG indicator 1.4.2.

Countries ridden with land and resource conflicts may be susceptible to understating or failing to appreciate the tenure rights of indigenous and rural communities. legal rights of communites. The World Bank, for example, estimates that 90% of African land is undocumented. But did the World Bank use a sound method to calculate this statistic? Is this statistic accurate and up-to-date? In many countries, particular in places like East Africa, communities have strong legal rights as established by national-level constitutions and statutes. According to the land laws of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, and other countries, land rights can be automatically recognized based on communities' customary use and occupation (see LandMark legal indicators on tenure security). This recognition exists regardless formal registration, which studies indicate is often time-consuming, difficult to access, and expensive for communities. Governments should admit when registration processes are failing and consider ways of streamlining.  If governments adhere to these legal provisions, then we can say that many more communities have stronger legal rights than commonly-used statistics give them credit for.  Laws actually grant communities strong rights in many countries but more work needs to be done to implement those rights. In Asia, Africa, and Latin America, there are numerous countries with legal provisions recognizing community tenure (see LandMark's legal indicators). Legal recognition of customary lands held by communists can and must occur automatically, and in many cases at the community level, for tenure security to be realized. Individual titling has proven to be an ineffective method for registering lands in many cases. Once the legal rights are granted, we can focus on the perception element of 1.4.2 with more clarity. I'll let others with more expertise address perception issues, but I will emphasize that I think we need an objective approach to measuring perception, we can't let government interests, misinformation, or individual's subjective misperceptions about their tenure security disrupt the data-gathering and monitoring efforts or skew the results.

I have read with interest inputs by colleagues. While there has been notable recognition of crowd-sourced data (thanks Mr. Manohar Velpuri for the great list, and Malcolm for exploring it further), a large part of the discussion so far on this topic focus predominantly on data-collection by National Statistical Offices (NSOs), and by UN and international initiatives related to the SDGs and land governance. While this is undeniably the core component of the SDG monitoring and evaluation process, it leaves other valuable complementary data-producers untapped, more specifically the communities, CSOs, and local NGOs.


Community- and CSO-generated data can serve multiple functions in large-scale monitoring and evaluation processes. It can contribute to transparency and accountability during the monitoring process, providing supplementary data to that collected by NSOs and other bodies and highlighting discrepancies or gaps. It can also strengthen the disaggregation of data, as it presents an opportunity to catch those who may fall through the gaps of larger statistical analyses, and can allow for the collection of more detailed information that NSOs may not have time or budget to pursue.


Data produced by communities and CSOs can also afford information on areas where there is weak infrastructure, or limited access for NSO representatives. The same can be said from the viewpoint of a continuum of land rights, where national methods for measuring tenure and land use may be less well-adapted to monitoring land tenure, eg. customary tenure to land, forests, rangelands, and waterways.


A further strength to the recognition and use of community-produced data is inclusivity and ownership. To achieve the SDG Agenda, goals, and targets we want as many people on board as possible. By supporting and utilizing community-produced data, implementing and custodian organisations can engender a feeling of genuine ownership of, and participation in the SDGs, encouraging them to invest further in seeing the goals and targets achieved. This is vital if we truly seek to leave no-one behind.

Dear all—

I want to thank the organizers for giving us the opportunity to hear a range of opinions on this topic and must second all the comments made about the challenges and complexities associated with measuring tenure security. I am sure I am not the only one who gets overwhelmed just thinking of what lies ahead. And yet, I am also profoundly inspired by the progress being made. 

It is hard for me to believe, even now, that in a relatively short period of time the world is going to start tracking progress on tenure security in a systematic and comparable way. That we will all have access to nationally-representative information–not just figures from a few sectors of the economy or the country. That the data will be collected directly from people – relying on primary data rather than on expert opinions or on the existence of certain laws and rights. That the data will be based on adults rather than heads of households—enabling us to see how tenure security varies within the household—, and  that the data will be sex-disaggregated—so we will also have information about both women and men and will be able to compare them.

This progress came with compromises, of course. Even though we all know tenure security is a complex concept, we also knew the 2030 Agenda would at best incorporate one or two measures on land rights. If we wanted to use this global and transformative opportunity we had to be strategic, and in a very rewarding exercise, over a hundred organizations operating at global, regional, national and local levels coalesced and settled on two proxies of tenure security. We agreed that by focusing our attention on documentation and perceptions we could obtain two data points that provided critical, complementary and outcome-oriented measures on which, over time, we could anchor a suite of additional, more nuanced indicators.

While the agenda was being negotiated, we argued that: “The legal recognition of women and men’s rights to land is important, but not always sufficient to fully guarantee that women and men experience these rights in practice. Field experience around the world suggests that for these rights to be secure in practice, they must be backed by effective, inclusive and gender-responsive systems of land administration and justice. By tracking the extent to which these rights are documented, we allow governments to demonstrate that they are taking steps to formally grant and implement the rights. By tracking individuals’ perceptions of their own tenure security, we summarize in one measure the economic, social, and political risks affecting individuals, their households, and their communities as they perceive them. Individuals may face different kinds of threats to their land rights. Examples of these threats include the possibility of losing land due to adverse economic circumstances, to conflict in their communities, to large scale land acquisitions, or as it is often the case for women, to intra-family dynamics such as losing a husband.”

As others have already pointed out here, there are issues with both measures. People may not know whether they have valid documents, what the documents mean, or how to use them. Similarly, people may be unaware of external threats to their tenure security or maybe too optimistic or pessimistic and miscalculate risks.  Still, in the aggregate, these two figures can serve as a helpful starting point in trying to identify how widely spread the insecurity is and to assess trends.

Unfortunately, generating data on perceptions is particularly challenging.

First, policy makers, statisticians and those involved in designing and implementing interventions must believe in these measures. This requires using a sound methodology, of course, but just as importantly, it requires establishing solid and trusting partnerships between those using and those generating the data.  

Second, questions on perceptions of tenure security may vary depending on the dimension of tenure security being explored (insecurity related to economic issues, to ethnic conflicts, to unclear boundaries, to poor governance, or to intrafamily disputes?) and they may vary depending on how the questions are framed (using positive or negative wording, using a shorter or longer time horizon, asking about risks that they may personally experience or risks that may affect their communities). It is important to give careful consideration to what questions should be asked and how to frame and word these questions.

Finally, and perhaps the biggest challenge of all, perceptions of tenure security should be self-reported: the indicator should be based on primary data obtained directly from women and men, rather than relying on proxies constructed by asking husbands, or heads of households, or government officials, or experts. UN Custodians of indicator 5.a.1 recommend addressing this challenge by adjusting most household survey methodologies to randomly select one respondent per household, instead of interviewing the household head or the most knowledgeable person. We support this recommendation realizing that changes like this one will take time, resources, and skillful negotiations. In the short term, if accepted by the NSOS, we endorse efforts like PRINDEX, currently being piloted, which can provide a feasible alternative by supplementing existing data with globally comparable and nationally representative perceptions of tenure security that are universal, can be sex-disaggregated, and can be repeated every 2 or 3 years.

We have come a long way with the inclusion of the land rights indicator in the 2030 Agenda. It is now time to be strategic, flexible and innovative to come up with credible and robust ways to address these challenges to ensure that indicator 1.4.2 is reclassified as Tier II and eventually Tier I, without sacrificing its key attributes and that countries prioritize the land indicators. This will require accepting new methodologies --like Prindex--as well as welcoming, encouraging and supporting the generation of data from the ground-up by engaging and equipping local women and men and by promoting ongoing multisectoral dialogues.

Good afternoon and thank you so much for this fascinating thread. All the contributions have been very inspiring and thought-provoking...I hope mine serves the same purpose! I write in relation to the question concerning the presence or absence of legal documentation as a proxy for secure land rights (vis-a-vis perceptions of security). My experience in this field suggests that ''legal'' documentation is a highly contextual concept, even within the national context. For example, in cases where two people disputants over land don't have any formal 'title', in court they will be able to present other written or oral proof that they are the owner of the land of a specific proportion. The type of proof they will present will vary - from oral witnesses, customary leaders testimony, or even a contract of sale from their forefathers/mothers, or even fraudulent documents. Nonetheless, from examining court records of conflicts over land, the presentation of a title is not always sufficient to defend rights - in the sense that judges in many parts of the world will make a decision based on equity/equality/other considerations rather than  presence or absence of land documentation  (especially in circumstances where the law provides for the protection of certain rights - children/surviving spouses etc). This means that indicator should endeavour to capture a very broad range of ''proof'' or legal grounds that would stand up in the case of a dispute. In many cases, a marriage certificate may suffice, for example, in a dispute between a surviving spouse and the brother of the deceased, because her rights in law grant her an automatic right to stay on that land or to inherit it.

Units of Analysis for Reporting on Indicator 1.4.2

We have for the most part gone beyond the question of the efficacy of measuring perceptions on land tenure security, as the perception data alongside data on clearly defined land tenure arrangements is known to be essential to our understanding of how people and communities are responding to specific tenure scenarios, and why.

As indicated in previous contributions by Everlyne, Malcolm, Diana and others, significant progress has been made on the political, conceptual and methodological aspects of the land indicators – this, notwithstanding the fact that there remains a significant amount of work to be done in each respect.

This forum is however intended to collate and stimulate new ideas for measuring perceptions of tenure security, or more specifically, measuring the “Proportion of total adult population […] who perceive their rights to land as secure…”.

So if reporting on indicator 1.4.2 were the big picture, this forum looks at just 1 of 5 units of analysis extracted from indicator 1.4.2 – the others being:

  1. Proportion of total adult population with secure rights to land;
  2. Proportion of total adult population […] with legally recognized documentation;
  3. Disaggregation by “Sex”; and
  4. Disaggregation by “...type of tenure.”

Importantly, our understanding of how people are responding to specific forms of tenure along a continuum of land rights – and why – hinges on our ability to reliably capture and link perception and tenure-disaggregated data. This requires that we accurately define each tenure form identified within local tenure typologies.


Collecting Tenure Disaggregated Data

In a study undertaken as part of my doctoral research on the Southern Caribbean island of St. Vincent, I sought to identify the range of tenure forms that constituted the tenure typology of four rural communities on the south-west of the island that had been severely impacted by a major flood event in December 2013.

Preliminary studies had already revealed key details regarding land governance and land tenure locally, which facilitated the framing of the questionnaire. Among the categories assessed, was ‘Land Tenure’, in which the following questions were asked:

  1. Do you own this property?  (YES___) (NO___) 
    • If 'YES': Do you have a deed to this property?  (YES___) (NO___)
    • If 'NO': How would you describe your living arrangement? Response options: (i) Rent (ii) Lease (iii) Family Land (iv) Squatter on Private Lands (v) Squatter on Government Lands (vi) Other ______________

Five distinct tenure forms were identified within the study area (Freehold Tenure, Rent, Family Land, Squatting on Government Land, and Tenancy at Sufferance) – with those persons responding “Other”, being coded as “Tenants at Sufferance” based on their descriptions of their living arrangements.

The application of the complete methodology – that incorporated a series of questions and analyses – resulted in a local representation of the continuum of land rights for the four host communities.

Proposals were then made for incremental improvements to the legal recognition of individual tenure forms along the tenure chain, taking into consideration the necessary changes to local procedural law, tenure administration, and the requisite institutional and regulatory frameworks. This approach was essential for evaluating individual tenure forms, and the processes for moving from one tenure form to another.

It is therefore reasonable for us to suggest that reporting on indicator 1.4.2 is best served by a combination of data on:

  1. Perception; 
  2. Legally-recognized documentation; and 
  3. Data that clearly defines the individual tenure forms constituting local tenure typologies. 

Great and very useful conversation is happening here on measurement of perception of tenure security in the context of indicator 1.4.2.

Indicator 1.4.2 looks at secure tenure for the lens of legally recognised documentations but also recognises that beyond documentation could be perceived rights. This is a positive diversion from the over emphasis on land documentation that has for the longest been viewed as the ultimate goal for secure land rights. Landesa’s model on bundle of rights defines secure land rights as those Legitimate; legally and socially recognized, Able to withstand changes in their families and their communities, are Long-term and Enforceable. This model acknowledges the limitations of rights that are only legally recognized but not socially acceptable. It further appreciates that although documentation to land is critical, it is not an end in itself. I echo Fernando Galeana’s sentiments that indeed land tenure security must be contextualized and vary with situations.

The Gender Asset Gap project tried to document in a number of countries documented ownership and reported ownership. Reported ownership is perceived ownership where even through there is no documentation to the land, respondents reported to have a sense of ownership that allows some level of security to them. Fernado further highlights the limitations on measuring perception in terms of methodological individualization that may limit assessing economic and social structures. I find this very crucial in trying to come up with data for measuring tenure security.

The Brazil context raised by Patricia is similar in many Africa countries where succession is not formal and families live in ‘local arrangements’ and the same is passed to generations. My sense of how then tenure security will be measured in such informal setting is through reported ownership. Where families report to have a sense of security of tenure, it can be deduced that they understand that they have the right of exclusion, rights to transact among other right. However, they may be a need to go beyond reported ownership to the elements that make them feel secured.  Patricia and someone else raised fundamental limitations of perception of secure tenure or reported ownership where access to information and knowledge is limited. What this means is that the response will be limited to what people know whether that is the correct position on not. I think this aspect needs further unpacking.

Thsi is a very interesting topic,  how do we  measure perceptions to for example people who regard land as just land nothing else until they loose it. In tanzania for example, land is a source of livelihood to well over 70% (figures are changing though). But to most peope it remains just land. Therefore, talking  about tenure security to someone who has not lost his/her land  is sometimes a difficult discussion. For majority of women who dont own land it can be even more challenging, how do you secure something you don't or should not own? How do you secure something you only have access to and can not make decision over it?

However to areas with larger investment or pastoralists and farmers the discussion can be different because they have seen their land been taken, or they have continued fighting for land that is not enough for all of them to use.

Then the question remain? why secure? what will I gain by securing my land? is  securing  tenure bringing more individualism especialy among people who are used to communally owning and sharing land and other resources? People who necessarily  do not need to claim ownership as a primary need but just access and continue living as one big family or community?

These are all questions that we deal with day in day out in our work , interactions with communities and other stakeholders.

We have had examples, where  in some communities people were told securing land brings more worthy to your land and possibly access to financia loans, then most people thought well if this land can help me get a loan then I want to secure it. Then they realise the banks need more than your piece  of paper.

Then there is a whole issue of people thinking security of tenure is only used to make it easier for government to map out land which they can take later for investment. So security can be perceived as a road map to land grab by  some  people or communities.

So what is  tenure security especialy for rural communities and poor people who depend on land as a means of livelihood? Is security only having a piece of paper? Can tenure security assure communities of economic independence or improvements? How will that happen and who will make that possible? How inclusive is tenure security process, who makes the decisions?

These are all questions that come up when discusing the tenure security, and they might not provide all the answers we might need but they reflect perceptions of the people when it comes to tenure security. We understand tenure security is important ...but land is also cultura and people have different ideas on how land should be managed or administered.

For women tenure security is important because land is gendered, the adminstration and management of it is so gendered and most women feel it and they know it's a challenge to them as individuas and their economic independence. Lan dprovides persona security and can a measure of trust between couples and or family members. But it's important to not that not al women  feel the same way, women just like other individuals have different percetipns and this ca be due to cultural upbringing, patriachy, lack of information, or just personal decisions on what is important and what is not. To other women not talking about tenure security is also about security and piece of minds.

My questions do not  necessarily mean tenure security is a problem but highighting some of the perceptions around the topic. I hope I didnt get you all back to pleriminary as I came in late in the discussion.

Thanks everyone for their comments. I did not get time to go through all of your comments. I would like to share our experiences in perception survey in Bangladesh. We did such kind of household survey in order to identify comparative vulnerable land owners during land survey and settlement which is land registration. It is very important to build trust with the land owners otherwise she would not expressed her concerns regarding security of ownership. Within the formal interview, we found most of the land owners do not know what are the documents proved ownership. For example, we educate people on land ownership documentation with 4 documents a) deed of land transfer, b) land registration, c) tax receipt and d) mutation copy.  While we asked question about the documentation and perception, then most of the answer came like we have all documentation. She believe that all documents are with her without any validation. Again she did not like to show the documents to others. She thought that information of documentation can be shared  and other people e.g. broker/neighbour/private investor can grab the land.

It seems to me that most of the poor, women, widow, religious minority, elderly and indigenous people are scared about the ownership. They are in confusion about the documents. We found 64% land owners are facing disputes regarding ownership such as boundary  conflicts, authenticity of documents, share in inherent lands, location of lands i.e. disputes on map and classification of lands etc. Each of the individual are facing different kind of threats to their land ownership. However they are reluctant to share their threats. If you are trusted within period of time, then they will share their threats, otherwise they would not share. Because some people believe that land brokers may use that threats for grabbing the lands. The best way to understand the perception is to educate/aware them on land ownership documentation, then they will share about shortage of documentation and share the threats/perception. In terms of women, or vulnerable community they would like to share their thoughts to women team member, minority or indigenous team members. Finally if you can prove that your position in favour of vulnerable land owners then they will share every documents and information of ownership with you. Women are more comfortable to share perception with women data collector,  minority feels comfortable to share perception with religious minority data collector. The collection of data would take time because of rapport building time.  You have to ensure that you are not taking any documents, just you are checking. You have to talk with other members especially sons/daughter who are studying in school/college, because they can influence parents not to share information.

In terms of challenges of data collection, you have to keep the data with confidentiality. Even if you talk with person who is not trusted with the individual women land owner, then you may loss the trust. By the way of our experiences we found if people i.e. women and vulnerable land owners trust you, then they will support you with history, data and other document e.g. maps etc. Again women and vulnerable land owners would feel threats during land acquisition, private investment, survey and settlement and land titling etc.

Best practices is to share information through public display and provide validation of vulnerable land owner's data as 84% land owners are small and vulnerable landowners.  We have much more experiences that may share in future.

Zambia has a bifurcated land tenure system: State land (6 percent) and customary land (94 percent). This contribution to the dialogue on monitoring land tenure security focuses on customary land where almost all land based investments take place. All land in Zambia is held by the President for and on behalf of all Zambians. Constitutionally, nobody owns land in Zambia. What people own are the use and access rights to land, that is, usufruct rights. The usufruct rights to customary land are not supported by any legally recognised documentation to enable communities lay claim to ownership of use and access rights. Consequently, customary land within the current legal provisions, is unusable as collateral for, for example, access to financial services, or as basis to determine the value of compensation in case of displacement or land dispossession. For the specific case of Zambia, therefore, to ascertain tenure security, the data needed is one that demonstrates: 1) actual land in hectares under customary tenure, leasehold and state tenure; 2) Levels of compensation and on what basis and terms when communities or individuals are in/voluntarily displaced; 3) Policies/legislations to legally recognise customary land; 4) Financial institutions willing to accept customary land as collateral and under what terms; and 5) the spatial distribution of land based investments in the country.

Having mentioned that, it might be useful here to propose spatial and temporal dimensions to tenure security. Distinct as these dimensions are, they are however linked. Some communities by virtue of where they are located and the size of land they occupy do not need any formal documentation for them to be secure (spatial dimension). Seeking tenure security only becomes relevant when there is a threat (temporal dimension). Because of the changing socio-economic dynamics, communities are getting worried that they will be displaced to pave way for development, thus, experiencing tenure insecurity. For societies with compromised rule of law coupled with weak institutions and poor policy implementation, it should be noted that having formal documentation is not a guarantee to tenure security. Power games always favour the powerful, with or without formal documentation. 

The Zambian law does not legislate against women in allocating usufruct rights to land. However, the technical criteria discriminate against women. When allocating the rights to use land, the government verifies the potential of an individual to develop the land by looking at their income/savings. Given the socio-economic dynamics in Zambia, particularly in peri-urban and rural areas, most women and the differently-abled do not meet the minimum requirements. Therefore, it will be useful to collect data on: 1) any policies that recognise the socio-economic disparities between men and women, and deliberately promote women in accessing the usufruct rights to land; 2) in male headed homes, how many females own usufruct rights to land; and 3) the kind of entrepreneurial activities that women and differently-abled individuals engage in when they own the usufruct rights to land.

One of the challenges in customary land administration is poor or non-existing records on boundaries of parcels, which often lead to disputes. As the best practice, Tetra Tech through a USAID project has been supporting efforts to document customary land of individual households in selected chiefdoms in the Eastern province of Zambia. This effort uses mobile phone technology to provide real-time updates on the status of land, thereby facilitating land allocation and reducing eruptions of disputes. Knowing where the spatial boundaries are of one’s usufruct rights to land increases a sense tenure security. Therefore, knowing one’s legal and spatial boundaries is an important element of the perception of tenure security. In a village, if all households knew with certainty their boundaries, there would be no cause for tenure insecurity from neighbours. In addition, in the absence of legal documentation, the logic of customary land tenure security is that the longer you live on a parcel of land, the more secure your tenure is, or at least, the more legitimate your claim will be to that parcel.

During the household survey, we are visiting the homes of land owners and started to asked questions like how much land you have? what is the type of land? how you own the land? During the question-answer we understand the category of the land owners whether she is widow, religious minority, indigenous or any other groups. Then we started to use the specific template for specific vulnerable groups for interviewing. Otherwise, we avoid the interview if we found that the land owner is not fall under any of our category. The interview process takes time because it not only limited with question-answer rather it is a observation and rapport building. We have bad experiences also for example, during interview our team member checked ownership documents of land owners. However land owners came up with claim that our team member lost one of his document. So need to be careful during the observing the documents.

At the same time, we have experience that women/widow/single women land owners are trusted us comparatively with her advocate/lawyer. She came to our office and shared every situation and then came to the lawyer. Some time, women are shared their perception regarding the tenure security downing the voice in separate room so that other people cannot listen.

I would request you to do few Focus Group discussion in country level with land owners in order to fix the indicators of tenure security. We fixed few indicators in order to identify the vulnerable land owners through few workshops with land owners. We found that the list of vulnerable land owners are changing, because data collection for day by days changed the perception of our team. We managed the database of vulnerable land owners and documented the status of support that we provided to them. This data collection is a process not one shoot activity. In that case, local youth volunteer can play good role in data collection where we have selected them carefully and trained them about the sensitivity. Some of them worked very well, as they know the history of land ownership and also disputes.

I would like to thank all the recent participants in this discussion during the last week for your contributions, including: Doug Hertzler, Andrew Chilombo, Hijaba Ykhanbai, Tamzin Hudson, Victoria Stanley, Casper Palmano, Diana Fletschner, Nicholas Tagliarino, Renee Chartes, Eileen Wakesho, Mary Ndaro, and Manun Ur Rashid. 

The discussion has also brought in more country cases with informative dives into survey research in Bangladesh and the challenges of Zambia's largely customary tenure system. 

Latest takeaways for me: 

1) I felt that Diana Fletschner's comment is very helpful in establishing the "big picture" context in which our discussion is taking place. We have come a long way to get land indicators into the 2030 Agenda--a window of opportunity has indeed opened. The call to be "strategic, flexible and innovative" makes sense to me. In my view this is a time for all stakeholders interested in the land agenda to come together and get the indicator recognized as Tier 1 in the reporting agenda. Let's use the fact that we're monitoring as a new driver for change (scorecard effects, etc.), and a boost to going deeper into research. We fully recognize that a few simple questions won't capture everything, but they will provide a basis and we can all build from that.


2) The discussions on community and customary tenures is very helpful in outlining the complexity of involved when these systems interact with external systems, the threats and opportunities offered by national and global markets, and administrative structures.  While there can be great internal security in these tenure systems, they can be quite vulnerable to external pressures. Once external pressures squeeze the community domain, that domain can be irreversibly weakened, with the most serious implications for people most dependent on the community resources. While the discussion highlighted this in rural Guatemala and other rural contexts, I think it is also an acute issue in many urban contexts. Balancing social and legal protections for community and customary domains with protections and rights for individuals within these domains is the complex agenda we have to embrace. I'm working more on promoting the model of community land trusts to deal with these issues in urban contexts. 


3) Women's real perceptions of security are not easy to get, even with attempts at survey protocols that speak directly to women. This seems to be an area to work on. Qualitative methods and approaches with high degrees of trust between interviewer and respondent are still needed to fill in and help correct for the biases and limitations of large-scale surveys of women. 


We're coming into the home stretch of this on-line forum so look forward to hearing from more participants and continuing to learn from you. 



Dear Participants,

Happy to join this discussion.

Few ideas on Ugandan perspectives on measuring tenure security for all. First, different countries have different land tenure systems. Most postcolonial agrarian societies whose pre-colonial landholding and landuse systems were not completely erased by colonial land administration institutions tend to have mixed land tenure systems. In Uganda, for instance, we have four land tenure systems: Customary tenure, a complex system of land relations, in which land rights are derived by reason of membership to and reciprocal obligations within a community; Freehold tenure which entails granting of registrable and permanent land-ownership rights by the state; Mailo tenure, where land may be owned by a different person or entity but occupied by ‘lawful’ or ‘bonafide’ occupants, with conflicting interests and overlaps in rights on the same land; and Leasehold, which may have elements of the three above. Under leasehold, land rights are derived from a superior land title. Enjoyment of access and user rights occurs in exchange for specific conditions, such as payment of rent. Customary tenure is the largest in Uganda, and most of the lands held under this tenure are not mapped, surveyed, and registered. But community owners and claimants to land know the boundaries of their land, vis-à-vis neighbouring communities, a knowledge base that straddles generations, even centuries.

To measure tenure security, one must articulate the distinct land-tenure system in question. Measurement is easier with freehold and leasehold: registered claims on each piece of land (titleholder, leaseholder, etc) are easily tracked. With customary tenure a different approach would be needed, an approach that tracks community claims and counter-claims (in case of contentions between neighbouring communities or between a community and some other claimant to the land) on the same land. I am not sure which tool best suits this. While measuring tenure security under Mailo may also necessitate tracking ownership, occupancy and user rights may have changed over the years especially in areas where there are absentee landlords, which allows occupants to transfer user rights to other people in different ways. A census on the piece of land in question would be the starting point, then documentation of rights claims on the land. This, not unlike measurement of tenure security on customary land, is a rather tedious process. Thus, tenure security increases with the nature of tenure. Presently, government of Uganda is registering all land tenure, including issuing Certificates of Customary Ownerships (CCOs) to communities owning customary lands, as well as documentation of land rights claims by bonafide occupants on mailo land.

To understand perceptions of tenure security one has to carry out a survey and/or document instances of land rights violations necessitated by the different land tenure systems. It is always difficult in legalistic systems to address land conflicts over customary land as the land in question may not be surveyed and registered. It is also difficult to resolve conflicts between absentee landlords and bonafide and lawful occupants when the land-use and land-access rights have changed from person to person, family to family, over many generations. Many mailo tenure systems arose from colonial land ‘donations’ to colonial collaborators and officials without regard for the then occupants on the land. Thus, the main gender and social-group dynamics to be born in mind when collecting and analysing the data are: what are the pre-existing gender relations in the society in question? Who lays claim to the land and what is the basis of these claims: holding a certificate of title, membership to the community, prior occupation of land before the land was given to some owners, post-occupation (after the land was given to owner), generational issues (descendants of previous occupants vis-à-vis new occupants, etc)? It follows that legal documentation alone is not enough to guarantee land tenure security. Perhaps land tenure reforms in countries like Uganda, if carried out diligently and cogently, may help in some instances.

Some of the best practices in Uganda include the recent innovation of issuing CCOs to customary land owners now facing serious threats to their lands as a result of speculation, large-scale land acquisitions by government and powerful companies, and developments in the extractives industry. The government has also set up a Land Fund, the operationalization and implementation of which remains inadequate, with the aim of compensating mailo land owners in order to free up the land for occupants of that land – again in response to conflicts between mailo title-holders and bonafide and lawful occupants. The government is also experimenting with Systematic Land Demarcations (SLDs), a practice whereby un-surveyed lands can be demarcated using both traditional and post-modern technologies and boundaries clearly spelt out between the different land owning entities (individuals, families, groups, communities). This is intended to diffuse the many land-boundary disputes that erupt in some rural areas. Civil society organisation in Uganda, including ACODE, are urging government to buy land, create a Government Land Bank, and reduce pressures for land acquisition for transference to large-scale investors – again following violations of land rights during processes of large-scale land acquisitions. The ongoing process of formulating the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation, and Resettlement Policy (LARRP) is another step. Through it government hopes to address issues of compulsory land acquisition – for location-specific investments like oil and gas, uranium, national security establishments, etc – and the accompanying dynamics of compensation, resettlement, and rehabilitation as provided for under the Constitution. The main challenge, then, will be the legitimation of compulsory land acquisitions, forced relocations, and management of the compensation regime and serious implementation of land-governance frameworks.

Very much enjoyed the conversations and information shared here. I wanted to add two more issues that I don't think have had enough attention in this discussion, namely 1) transboundary land dynamics and 2) caste dynamics, based on my fieldwork and research in the Himalayan regions of South Asia.

1) Transboundary Land Dynamics

I think we also need a way to account for how surrounding land politics can impact individual, communal and regional land dynamics. For example, in the far northwest of Nepal near the border with Tibet, agropastoralism, herding and trading were major parts of the livelihood of communities there, involving yaks, sheep and goat herding and salt and wool trade. Many of these communities would take their herds onto the Tibetan platea for the summer, and then return in the fall, and this access to communal pasture lands was key for their livelihoods. But with the closure by the Chinese military of the Tibet border under Mao and later regimes, these communities were no longer allowed to graze in Tibet, thus cutting off a critial element of their access to land which they required to survive. Older people we talked with remember herds of 1000s within their lifetime, which have now been reduced to a few hundred or less, because of these border restrictions.

The result is that many people have given up their former lifeway as agropastoralists or herders/traders and either become precarious day laborers across the border in Tibet, or seek left for work elsewhere, often in the MENA regions doing construction work in highly exploitative conditions. These dynamics have fundamentally altered the socio-economic dynamics of this high mountain region, yet on the surface land tenure does not seem like an obvious issue underlying some of these changes.

As I understand the survey mechanisms on secure tenure around SDG 1.4.2, these kind of dynamics would be complete absent and not accounted for, because they are not--strictly speaking--about secure tenure in the immediate sense of rights to ones home or land. Rather, they have to do with the ability to continue to survive in an agrarian economy based on additional, external resources of a communal nature. This relates in some ways to the other issues of communal land tenure mentioned here, but from a different angle.

How could the SDG 1.4.2 measures of secure tenure deal with dynamics like this?

2) Caste dynamics

Because Nepal is still primarily an agriculture society, and until fairly recent was dominated by a semi-feudal land system, land ownership virtually structured the entire political system. And due to Nepal being a Hindu monarchy for over two centuries (until 2008), land tenure and ownership patters were structured largely, although not completely, around the Hindu caste system and the elevation of high-caste Brahmins. This trend was encouraged in the 1950s by a major wave of settlement efforts by the gov't of Nepal, with the help of USOM/USAID and others, to relocate overpopulated mid-hill Brahmin communities into the more fertile and less-densely populated Terai areas.

Because of this, massive land inequality in the Terai, the major agricultural region in the south along the border with India, came to be defined by high-caste hill Brahmins (Pahadis) controlling huge areas of land under the various land tenure systems (eg. Birta, Guthi, Jagir), with many of the lower-caste, Dalit and Indigenous communities (adivasi/janajati), especially the forest-dwelling Tharu groups in areas targeted for clearing and settlement projects, becoming virtual slaves, indentured land servants (such as kamiyas) or landless. To this day, these Hindu caste dynamics continue to define the land situation in Nepal.

So while the emphasis on Indigenous communities and gender would, in the case of Nepal, help to capture some of these tenurity security dynamics, they would completely miss the underlying structural caste dynamics which continue to define land rights and tenure issues. I suspect in much of South and Southeast Asia where Hindu cultural dynamics and a majority agrarian societies are still the norm, this would be a relevant issue.

How could the SDG 1.4.2 measures of secure tenure deal with dynamics like this?

Thanks all for a very interesting discussion.


I'm so glad that you  - and some others - describe this.  Land tenuring systems too often protect the interests of the wealthy and powerful, while the same tenuring systems may disadvantage the poor. It is indeed important to find ways to disaggregate tenure confidence by class.  Some of the data that may be relevant in this regard is type of tenure claim and how tenure is established (and how much that cost), size of land, generational claims to land,  type of livelihood and income.) That's information that can be more easily collected from the poor than the rich or even middle class. Still measuring the perceived tenure security of the poor, as opposed to the population as a whole, is important to consider.

Muy interesante el tema y el debate, felicidades a los organizadores y participantes.

Debo confesar que si bien somos una institución que trabajamos cotidianamente el tema de tierra no hemos seguido este diálogo global. Pueden ver de nuestro trabajo en www.porlatierra.org

Voy a intentar concentrarme en dos aspectos, a) el de cómo medir la seguridad para los campesinos e indígenas, y b) la percepción sobre la seguridad

Entonces hay cosas que se vienen haciendo y dan cuenta las especificidades locales y regionales como bien decía Miss Joy Obadoba.

En todos estos esfuerzos sobresalen los distintos sistemas de propiedad, y en el caso de Sudamérica, hay que tomar en cuenta las formas de propiedad colectiva, que son estupendos sistemas institucionales de asignación de derechos de propiedad, y que nos han mostrado suficientemente claro que el mundo rural no se trata de un sistema petrificado de propiedad, sino que es muy dinámico y flexible, y que ahí justamente está el secreto de su sobrevivencia ante todos los embates de la propiedad y la acumulación.

  • Muchos de los aportes llaman la atención sobre la dificultad de medir la percepción, o si esa medición nos dirá algo sobre la relación acceso a la tierra y reducción de pobreza, que es el problema central. La intervención del prof. Prof. Grenville Barnes, ya nos alerta sobre el escaso valor del papel individual, sobre todo en las tierras colectivas, así como otras participantes sobre el tema del sexo - género incluso en las relaciones intrafamiliares.

Estoy muy inseguro que la medida de la percepción sea un buen camino, la información que se dio sobre la experiencia de Guatemala y el mercado de tierras nos muestran las limitaciones de estos sistemas que se consideraban los más avanzados en términos de propiedad y seguridad jurídica.

Esto hace que sea evidente que no es una medida universal, sería curioso aplicarla en los países llamados desarrollados donde han optado por una formalidad y un sistema de propiedad que no es la regla en el mundo.

Como se puso el ejemplo de África, en América Latina, también existen una configuración sobre la propiedad de la tierra, hoy mismo yo afirmaría que un tercio es de dominio colectivo, más allá del tipo de propiedad que el Estado haya impuesto. Pienso también en China e India donde la ruralidad campesina es tan importante y lo seguirá siendo, y no parece tener mucho sentido algunos de los temas de formalidad estatal que se vienen proponiendo.

La percepción varía según la tradición, la cultura y las historias particulares. Pero también según la teoría de la institución que elabora discursos sobre ella, y no desconocemos que la propiedad privada y de mercado sigue siendo un paradigma presente en muchas organizaciones del mundo.

En particular en Bolivia y otras regiones, el concepto de territorios indígenas, campesinos y originarios, es muy nuevo y configura una categoría de acceso a la tierra inaccesible por las categorías agrarias que hemos manejado hasta el presente, no imagino que resultaría de una encuesta de percepción sobre la seguridad de acceso. Aunque si conocemos que las amenazas son múltiples de quienes desean extender sus sistemas productivos sobre estas tierras.

Todavía estamos hablando de casi la mitad de la humanidad en estado de ruralidad, si además consideramos la doble residencia y las actividades de tiempo parcial, me da la impresión que el indicador es muy pobre y se debe darle mayor jerarquía.

It has been interesting to read the contributions to this debate. From my own observations, it seems that the awareness and discussion on the new SDG “Land Indicator” is very low in the Mekong Region, despite the fact that land tenure is a critical issue here.   That said there are numerous initiatives – both governmental and non-governmental – that are purported to improve land governance and land tenure security in all of the countries across this region.  This has not necessarily contributed to a heightened sense (or reality) of tenure security among the poor. A primary reason for this is a lack of transparency in regard to both cadastral systems and land use planning, inclusive of environmental and social impact assessments. 

We all know that opaque systems tend to protect the interests of the financial elite but we less often acknowledge that newly introduced formal tenure systems often aid the transfer of land (as capital) to the wealthy and new cadastral systems and land laws tend to protect their interests. Unfortunately, parallel attempts to aggregate and publish personal and community-level documentation of long-standing but often less formal tenure claims of the poor may be considered illegal. This makes it difficult and even risky to question government data, particularly when it is not fully open and where there are legal limits to how any person or organization may challenge the government or its political leaders.

If the SDC land indicator is to be meaningful, a high priority must be to measure the level of transparency of government cadastral systems and land use planning, thereby increasing the political pressure to be transparent and publicly accountable.  A corresponding way to measure tenure security then would be to measure citizen confidence in the completeness, correctness, openness and accessibility of those systems.  


In the Lower Mekong Countries, political support for open data initiatives is weak, and government funding for staff and resources insufficient. None of these countries have signed on to the Open Government Partnership and only Thailand and Vietnam have Right to Information Laws. All have been ranked low on the Open Data Inventory 2016, a global assessment on the coverage and openness of official statistics. Development partners and international/local organizations working in a technical working group with the government might have access to data that may not be released openly and accessible to the general public. Existing data from these groups and the government needs to be consolidated to reflect SDG 1.4.2 and organised to enable effective reporting.  

Independent open data initiatives can increase public participation to help gather and crowdsource data and information on land tenure and use to improve the  quality of data that governments provides. It provides a mechanism for active citizenry that can influence and create the political pressure need to progress governments towards greater transparency through an open data model. For example, while Cambodia’s open data ecosystem is still in its infancy, Open Development Cambodia, an independent local open data NGO, is acting as an important leader in pushing the country toward a more transparent, collaborative and data-driven approach towards sustainable development. ODC demonstrates the importance of making government data available to the public; through offering investment contracts of large scale land acquisitions along with geospatial data of these investments complemented by legislative documents, demographic data, customary land titling information, and insight into the current state of environmental systems. This holistic view enables a more relevant perspective on the state of land within the socio-economic national context. It allows moderation of government data to identify the strengths and weaknesses of existing monitoring systems and data collection gaps to allow for opportunities to open constructive dialogue on the issues that affect land tenure security.

Open Development Mekong, built upon experiences and lessons learned from the flagship Open Development Cambodia (ODC) platform, provides a regional approach that hopes to illuminate emerging trends in land tenure security across the five Lower Mekong Countries.  By capturing data on SDG indicators for land against cross thematic indicators such as poverty, climate change, gender and health  within the region, the project will not only contribute to greater data transparency, but aid in a more realistic indication of progress towards the SDG’s in general.  Additionally beneficial, by conforming metadata standards and methodologies for reporting on SDG land indicators within the region it increases data reliability and confidence as a credible source for information.  The facility will allow opportunities for data sharing across differing sectors and amongst stakeholders, effectively providing a self-validation process for the data reported. Land tenure and land use will be presented and organised effectively and efficiently thereby providing users with data and tools to inform decision making to influence policies.

  1. What data is needed to measure tenure security for all? What is available, and what are the plans for collecting the required datasets?

SDG Indicator 1.4.2 is designed to measure tenure  security for all, and data is needed on:  i) the proportion of people who hold some form of legally recognized documentation that can demonstrate the land rights they hold and ii) on how people  perceive the security of land rights.

To be of real use in monitoring and promoting positive change, data from all sources needs to be disaggregated by sex (gender), for urban and rural areas, and by tenure type.   As this is a composite and innovative indicator a variety of different data sources need to be used. Nevertheless with growing interest and appreciation of the importance of tenure security for achieving the SDGs from statisticians, land professionals as well as civil society and the private sector there are now good prospects of using available data sources intelligently for measurement and monitoring and to provide an increasingly robust and comprehensive global picture

Household Surveys, implemented by official National Statistical Organizations and based on representative good-sized samples are a good source of robust national on legally recognized documentation. Some national household surveys (an initial estimate based on a small but geographically  representative number of countries suggest as much as 75% already collect data on land rights documentation. Efforts are underway by indicator 1.4.2 custodian agencies World Bank and UN Habitat to develop and standardized land modules - packages of questions that can be integrated into the most widely applied household survey questionnaires and adapted for specific country contexts by the NSOs.  

Relatively few existing surveys - initial estimates suggest no more than 20% - ask any sort of questions about perceptions of land rights security or risks of losing land. As this is essentially subjective information, it is widely considered quite difficult to frame and standardize questions on perceptions across different countries and cultural contexts for incorporation into household surveys).   

It is more likely that household surveys will generate more information on land rights documentation than on perceptions. Because of this additional efforts are underway through the PRIndex initiative to develop globally applicable methodologies to track perceptions of security of land and property rights through purpose designed polls, for coordinated implementation by specialized polling organizations in increasing numbers of countries. As polling methods improve and coverage increases, these polls can provide very useful barometers on a country basis against which to compare figures on available documentation of land rights. Depending on available resources, polls could eventually provide comprehensive data sets to meet the requirements of the indicator.

As it will also take some time to roll out national household surveys including questions on land rights documentation across large numbers of countries, in the short term administrative data held by land administration agencies (such as land registries and government authorities of major cities) is a very important source to assess to identify proportions of people holding legally recognized land rights documentation.  Although the picture this data provides may be incomplete, the World Bank has estimated that data on officially registered and mapped land holdings country wide or for the major cities in 189 countries. Much of this can be compiled for initial reporting on the indicator, providing a solid basis for assembling a global picture and measuring increases over time. Moreover, the need for countries to report land administration data to help meet the indicator would provide strong incentives to make national land information systems fit for purpose by bringing together information on all types of tenure rights and encourage governments to recognize legitimate informal or customary rights and provide appropriate forms of documentation to help make these rights more secur

  1. How do we understand the perception of tenure security?

Perception of tenure security refers to a person’s views on the likelihood of disagreement or conflict over ownership of land or ability to use it, regardless of the formal status of rights. Perception of tenure is secure if individuals or households do not feel threats of being deprived of land use or ownership rights of these being disputed, by other individuals, families, governments, private companies or other claimant.  Although people without land rights documents may often feel insecure, and those with documents may feel protected, there are situations where the documentation is not enough to guarantee tenure security, and where customary or informal land holders may perceive their rights as secure despite absence of legal recognition or formal documentation. Gathering data on perceived tenure security is thus important where formal documentation does not exist or where the dynamics of urban or agricultural land development and lack of capacity, consistency and transparency in government policies and practice means that existence of formal documents does not provide real tenure security.  

 What gender and other group dynamics that need to be considered in collecting, analyzing and reporting on perceptions and legal documentation?

Data needs to be collected and reported on whether or not available documentation gives legal recognition to women’s land rights as well as men’s, and samples must include all types of households. For perception data at household level, interviewing strategies in polls and survey questionnaires must include female as well as male respondents. Reliance on data provided by identified household heads, normally males, is not enough.  For large households and extended families households or where land rights are held on a community basis, documentation of collective or communal land holding should be included and information gathered on numbers of women and men these documents cover. Where resources permit it will be important to establish whether or not there is also an official or community level “documentation trail” to show how many households and men and women within them have secure land rights, especially in contexts where women or any other groups of residents may be vulnerable to discrimination or exclusion from land held by the collective group.  

  1. What are some of the best practices we have on how perception data has been collected and disseminated? (Existing or developing), challenges and opportunities. 

I will leave it to PRIndex to respond to this question – to answer it I would only be going over information that PRIndex have provided us with, and they will be in a better position to respond on good data collection practices. 

First, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share some thoughts in this important issue; and second, sorry for doing it in Spanish, but it is easier for to do so:

Me parece que el indicador referido tiene dos partes: 1) el porcentaje de gente con títulos propietarios; y 2) la gente que tiene la percepción de que su propiedad está segura en sus manos; y es este último componente el que me parece fundamental para comprender el alcance del derecho propietario y así poder plantear medidas para fortalecer la tenencia en los diversos países. Lamentamente, me parece tambien que es el componente mas mas complejo de medir.

 Es comúnmente aceptado a nivel mundial que la seguridad jurídica sobre la tierra, vale decir el reconocimiento formal de derechos propietarios sobre la tierra otorgados por el Estado en favor de una persona, grupos de personas, colectividades o empresas, es una condición estructural y fundamental para generar emprendimientos agropecuarios de largo plazo. Se supone que si el Estado reconoce y garantiza el derecho propietario agrario, el campesino, el pequeño productor o el agroindustrial tienen la suficiente seguridad –garantía pública– para invertir sin temor a perder sus recursos. Esta expectativa es la que finalmente ha estado el proceso de titulación y regularización de derechos propietarios sobre la tierra iniciado en Bolivia a partir de promulgación de la Ley INRA hace más de 20 años (1996) y que hasta la fecha no concluye.

Sin embargo, desde la experiencia que se ha podido acumular, en Bolivia hay muchos casos donde no se encuentran indicios directos y definitivos de que la relación seguridad jurídica – inversión funcione con la contundencia que la teoría supone, por lo menos hasta ahora.

De manera general en varias circunstancias específicas del país, el uso de la tierra, la obtención de créditos productivos, el acceso a condiciones de desarrollo se dan aparentemente de manera independiente de la actualización de los derechos propietarios de la tierra. Soyeros cruceños, cocaleros yungueños, productores exitosos vallunos y la mayoría de los lecheros del altiplano no tienen títulos actualizados sobre sus tierras (o solo recientemente han sido actualizados) pero eso no les ha impedido ser exitosos en sus emprendimientos.

El uso de la tierra y la inversión en ella al parecer se han dado independientemente de la existencia de seguridad jurídica de la tierra; por lo tanto, es fundamental  la percepción de seguridad de tenencia que los distintos sujetos rurales puedan tener, la margen de si tienen títulos o no.

Ante la ausencia de seguridad jurídica sobre la tierra en la forma de un título actualizado de propiedad otorgado por el Estado, las organizaciones de los productores, las comunidades, los sindicatos y los gremios se han visto obligados a encontrar otras formas de garantizar el derecho propietario, otras formas de seguridad. Ante la ausencia histórica del Estado en el área rural, es comprensible que la inversión, por más pequeña que pueda ser, haya buscado otros caminos para asegurarse y realizarse.

En las comunidades de altiplano y valles del país, el derecho sobre la tierra es garantizado por las organizaciones comunales campesinas e indígenas que –desde la Reforma Agraria de 1953 y hasta la puesta en marcha de la Participación Popular de 1994– habrían llegado a reemplazar al Estado como ente colectivo de regulación de la vida cotidiana. En la medida en que el pequeño productor forma parte de una comunidad, cumple con sus obligaciones comunales, pasa cargos, paga cuotas, realiza trabajos, la comunidad le reconoce su propiedad agraria ante vecinos y terceros; lo que a su vez permite la sensación de seguridad sobre la tierra, aspecto fundamental para la inversión. Se trata de lo que se podría llamar una especie de “seguridad legítima” sobre la tierra, basada en el reconocimiento comunal de ese derecho y en la noción de que la tierra debe cumplir una función social y que los derechos propietarios de la tierra no son absolutos, sino que están condicionados a su rol fundamental para la sociedad.

Como contrapartida, en algunas zonas, la gente que demanda seguridad jurídica es aquella que ha perdido lazos con las instancias que reconocen el derecho propietario. Por ejemplo, los denominados residentes, que viven en la ciudad pero que pretenden mantener su propiedad en su antigua comunidad rural y para ello recurren al Estado. Estos residentes son los más interesados en sanear los derechos propietarios de sus tierras; es decir aquellas personas que viven en la ciudad y ya no se dedican principalmente a labores agropecuarias. Para ellos –propietarios ausentes– ya no es suficiente la seguridad que la comunidad les pueda brindar, porque además, el sindicato les exige cada vez más aportes y prestaciones a cambio de garantizarles su derecho de pertenencia a la comunidad y la propiedad de su tierra.

Pero estos procesos de demanda de titulación individual pueden tener efectos adversos. La búsqueda de seguridad jurídica puede llevar a desintegrar comunidades, titulando pequeños propietarios individualmente, que luego, ante la presión, se ven obligados a vender sus tierras a grandes inversores.

Me parece que bajo esta perspectiva, es fundamental encontrar una forma adecuada de medir la percepción de seguridad sobre la tenencia, articulada a la pertenencia del productor, del pequeño propietario, a una comunidad, a un colectivo, que le garantice ese derecho de manera complementaria con el Estado. Esta figura estaría más respaldada aún si lo que se promoviese fuesen sistemas colectivos de propiedad, donde se combina la propiedad colectiva con el uso familiar de la tierra. Las estadísticas oficiales del Estado no brindan esta información. Para contar con ella es preciso hacer estudios puntuales, combinando información cualitativa y cuantitativa, con objetivos claros, y con recursos humanos capacitados para ello.


Juan Pablo 

Hi everyone,

Wow, what a great and detailed discussion.

A few quick bird's eye observations from the World Cocoa Foundation. WCF is currently in the early stages of exploring the issue of land tenure, particularly as it relates to cocoa farmers in Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. Many of the commentors raised issues regarding documentation and why perception is not easy to measure. This aligns with the findings from a recent study we supported in partnership with USAID and the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) on the perceptions towards land tenure security among cocoa farmers in Ghana. The survey found that despite lacking any documentation of land rights, cocoa tenant farmers (naturally) reported a much greater concern for issues such as access to farm inputs and income than the security of their land use claims. The study and our own experience in West Africa has shown that the local cultural context is most relevant to the perception of security of land, including the family one comes from, connections with the political elite, money to buy and sell land, remoteness from a natural resource, whether one has access to marginal or fertile land, etc.

We hope that an index based on a score that measures perceptions of tenure security with regard to region, country, and continent. The measure of perception would also take into account time, which is particularly relevant to agriculturalists. For example, perception of security over land among farmers growing annuals can change over a much shorter time period than of those growing perennials such as cocoa, rubber, and palm. It also differs if the land has a high opportunity cost.

While the issues are complex, properly contextualizing security perceptions within geographic and temporal regions will give us more accurate information about who does and doesn't report land security within a specific population, and is essential to building an accurate evidence base with the aim of improving tenure security.

Aaron & Edwin, WCF

Centrándome en las preguntas disparadoras de este intercambio podría establecer para Argentina dos espacios territoriales diferenciados. Uno, el de la región pampeana donde tiene una dinámica particular siendo la “vanguardia” en la producción de comodities. Y por otra parte las economías regionales con otras dinámicas y actores.

Donde se centra mi trabajo es la región pampeana, donde se podría medir la seguridad  desde el tener o no tener la propiedad de la tierra. Pero junto a ello, podemos considerar también la extensión del predio productivo, para saber si garantiza, o no, una producción sustentable. La otra cuestión es que si observamos las producciones periurbanas, esta la amenaza latente del avance de la urbanización que genera inseguridad permanente a futuro.

Y por otra parte quisiera referirme a las percepciones, que pasarían por cómo los sujetos se vinculan al factor tierra (propietario, arrendatario, etc.) en primer lugar, la cuestión de las producciones que se desarrollen, si están más vinculadas al mercado interno o externo. La cuestión de género es central, en cuanto a que si bien el sistema legal establece que todos somos iguales en el acceso a la tierra, por ejemplo en el sistema hereditario en los hechos las mujeres heredan en menor medida que los hombres. Esto es, la tierra queda más en manos de hombres y no de las mujeres.

Por otra parte en los sujetos de la agricultura familiar donde el recurso tierra es escaso, hay una imposibilidad por parte de los jóvenes de poder acceder a la misma. Lo que genera la migración de los más jóvenes hacia los centros urbanos. Generando un fenómeno de selinización en el campo muy marcado.

Por lo que las percepciones de los grupos desaventajados (mujeres y jóvenes fundamentalmente dentro de la agricultura familiar) debieran ser fundamentales para visualizar las percepciones.

Junto a ello en los cordones hortícolas periurbanos hay una clara preeminencia de productores de origen boliviano, con lo cual se debe agregar la percepción en cuanto a ser discriminados y maltratados por su condición de “extranjeros” de manera continúa.

A few points on gender dynamics:

Intra-household gender differential—the perception of tenure security may differ between members of the same household. The husband may perceive greater tenure security than the wife even if legally the land/property belongs to both. There are many reasons for this. It may be that the official documentation is in the name of the man only even if the land/property marital property. Another reason is that in many jurisdictions, women’s property rights are governed by multiple legal frameworks that may be inconsistent with each other. For example, the land law may grant women equal land rights, but marriage laws accord men more control over the management of property jointly owned. Likewise, customary or cultural norms and practices in many rural communities give women subordinate status and hand more power to men over decision-making on land. Women may also have lower levels of literacy and awareness of the laws and their rights, while wives in polygamous marriages may have different levels of tenure security perception. These factors must all be considered in conducting household surveys.


In collectively-owned lands (i.e., the legal documentation is in the name of the community), women’s perception of tenure security will depend not just on legal documentation but also on the strength of customary or local rules, practices, and institutions that uphold women’s tenure rights within the community.

Other factors, such as class, ethnicity, age, civil status, and religion, may also intersect with gender to affect the perception of tenure security. Women who are poorer, marginalized, or have lesser means to access justice or enforce their rights may feel vulnerable despite legal documentation.  

Finally, women may have secure tenure rights, but own or control smaller or less productive plots.

[Some sources: http://ac.els-cdn.com/S0264837709000702/1-s2.0-S0264837709000702-main.pdf?_tid=cb3813b4-67fc-11e7-ba13-00000aacb360&acdnat=1499972290_617b30475e3cd9cc5f4d0e72740be2b7; https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304387813001818https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/21033/927600NWP0Wome00Box385358B00PUBLIC0.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y]

Thanks so much for the debate, it is so enlightening. Very true without secure land rights, ordinary people suffer evictions with nowhere to go. Land owners normally treat occupiers badly if the country's laws are not firm.

To be able to make objective progress reports on the attainment of SDG 1, the measurement of land tenure security remains an important activity at country level. Overall, it would be helpful to ensure that countries have national land policy and legal frameworks which are clear and well aligned to the regional and global frameworks on the matter of tenure rights. An appropriate regional guide for the African region would include the Framework and Guidelines for Land Policy in Africa while the Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests offer a good global guide.

Where land has been surveyed/mapped/documented and registered, one would need to be able to establish aspects such as:-

  • Number of registered land owners countrywide
  • The existence of laws that clearly spell the rights and obligations of land holders and users
  • The existence of enforcement mechanisms for such laws
  • Occurrence of boundary disputes
  • Speed of dispute resolution and confidence in results
  • Confidence in ownership documents by land owners and user constituencies like the private sector such as banks and real estate industry
  • Disaggregation of ownership data on the basis of gender
  • Security of documents held in land registries/depositories
  • Ease of access to ownership data by land owners and other users
  • Availability of legal provisions on the rights of women to access and own land
  • Availability of legal provisions on the rights of windows and children to inherit land
  • Availability of legal provisions enabling the leasing and mortgaging of land

Where land is held communally, one needs to establish aspects like:-

  • Whether there is legal recognition and protection of community land
  • Whether communities know the extents of their community land
  • Whether they have marked their community land perimeter boundaries
  • Whether they have allocated specific portions of land to clans/families
  • Whether clan/family land is marked out
  • Whether clans/families are able to transact on their land
  • How they regulate use of land by clans/families
  • Whether clans/families can lease out or mortgage land
  • How boundary and land use disputes are resolved
  • The average speed of resolving boundary and land use disputes
  • Whether women and children are able to inherit land their family land

The above can be established through desk reviews of existing policies and laws and through surveys with informants drawn from state institutions, land owners, the private sector and professional associations. In areas where land is held communally, such surveys will draw informants from the State, Community leaders, members of the community and the private sector.

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