Land Redistribution

Land redistribution can occur when, for example, the state provides land to the landless (India), former collective farms distribute land to individual households (China), or people are moved from one place to another. Often a temporary document is issued, and later that temporary document can be replaced by a more permanent document, a title, that is then registered. The document provided when the initial distribution occurs can have a lasting effect on who has legal rights to the land.

Page Contents

  1. Research – Quantitative and qualitative studies organized by country and outcome
  2. Legal Issues – Common legal issues and example laws, regulations, and policies
  3. Projects – Interventions and their outcomes

Research Organized by Country

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2013 IFPRI Discussion Paper “Can Government-Allocated Land Contribute to Food Security?” by Florence Santos, Diana Fletschner, Vivien Savath, and Amber Peterman.1

    This study was conducted in West Bengal, India and evaluates the impact of India’s land allocation and registration program in West Bengal. The Nijo Griha, Nijo Bhumi—“My Home, My Land”—program (NGNB) is a program that targets poor populations and promotes the inclusion of women’s names on land titles. The study collected information between 2010 and 2012 using both qualitative and quantitative methods. It examines the program’s selection of beneficiaries and a set of outcomes that are expected to lay the foundation for future food security, as well as short-term food security indicators.

    The quantitative survey sample consists of 1,035 households: 671 NGNB beneficiaries and 364 non-beneficiaries that serve as the control group. The households were located in three districts: Coochbehar, Bankura, and Jalpaiguri. The control group was made up of households who were on the list of NGNB eligible households but did not benefit from the program. The control group did not have rights to their own land, but they did have insecure access to some land. Heads of households (both male and female) were interviewed with a sub-set of questions given to the female spouse of male-headed households, where applicable.

  2. Questions posed
    • Do NGNB households have better outcomes than non-NGNB households in four areas that will contribute to future food security: perceptions of tenure security, use of credit for agricultural production, investments in agricultural production, and women's participation in decision making?
  3. Description of intervention

    The NGNB program is a government program that provides micro-land plots to landless agricultural laborers. The NGNB program gives priority to female-headed households and widows and explicitly stipulates that land titles issued to households with both male and female adults should be jointly titled to the primary male and female.

  4. Context of findings

    An NGO, Landesa, has provided technical support since 2009 to West Bengal’s Land & Land Reforms Department in piloting changes to the NGNB program, identifying best practices, and scaling it up.

    The program works through the state government and local communities to purchase and allocate small plots of land. The program also provides assistance with housing and basic inputs and capacity building in homestead food production and promotes local development through investment in infrastructure.

  5. Key findings

    The findings indicate that respondents perceive NGNB plots as more secure and that women report significantly higher levels of tenure security for NGNB plots than for non-NGNB land.

    More specifically, the women interviewed are (1) 8 percent less likely to report being concerned about having to vacate NGNB plots; (2) 18 percent more likely to report that they expect their households to have retained access and control over household plots five years from now, with this number dropping slightly, to 17 percent, when women referred to their own personal access and control; and (3) 7 percent more likely to report that they could convince other decision-makers in the family not to sell the land plot against their will.

    NGNB beneficiary households are more likely to access credit for agriculture and to invest in agricultural improvements, and women in NGNB beneficiary households are more likely to participate in food and agricultural decisions compared to their non-NGNB peers. Women in NGNB households are (1) 12 percent more likely to be involved in decisions to take loans from Self-Help Groups or microfinance institution; (2) 12 percent more likely to be involved in decisions on whether to purchase productive assets; (3) 9 percent more likely to be involved in decisions related to food purchase and consumption; and (4) more likely to be involved in decisions about the family land.

    Including women’s names on land titles significantly contributes to women’s perceptions of increased tenure security and to women’s involvement in food and agriculture decision making. Tenure security outcomes improve up to 10 percent among beneficiaries when women’s names are included on the land documents.

  6. Unanswered questions
    • Are there procedural guidelines for ensuring women and men are jointly titled? If so, what are they?
    • What interventions were in place to ensure that both women and men knew the value of their documented rights?
    • With any of the findings, is there a difference between women in male-headed households and female-headed households?
    • Were there any special considerations about the location of the land for female-headed households?
    • Are there differences in terms of impact between Hindu, Muslim, and Christian women?
    • Were there differences in the number of land documented in women’s names by location?
    • Were there incentives for officials to follow the rules re: joint titling?
NOTES
  1. Santos, F., Fletschner, D., Savath, V., & Peterman, A. (2013). “Can Government-Allocated Land Contribute to Food Security?” IFPRI Discussion Paper, December 2013.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2015 article “The Welfare Impact of Land Redistribution: Evidence from a Quasi-Experimental Initiative in Malawi” by Mariapia Mendola and Franklin Simtowe.1

    The empirical analysis is based on a four-round household panel data set collected among 1194 households in 6 districts (Mulanje, Thyolo, Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka and Ntcheu) in Malawi between 2006 and 2009. The data set consists of 391 beneficiary households or the “treatment group” and some “indirectly treated” households, i.e. 190 households left behind in the vacated areas and 214 households in receiving areas. The latter groups of households are partially affected by the project through changes in land availability and the labor market as a consequence of the departure or arrival of new households. These groups are reviewed in the analysis of spillover effects of the program placement. Finally, the data set contains information on 397 households in similar areas of neighbouring districts of Chiradzulu and Balaka, which consists of a totally unaffected “control group.”

    The study looks at head of household only and disaggregates by sex of head of household.

  2. Questions posed
    • Did the land redistribution project significantly increase land holdings, agricultural output, and income of beneficiary households and improve households' food security and especially durable asset ownership?
    • Did female-headed households make similar gains?
  3. Description of intervention

    The Community Based Rural Land Development Project (CBRLDP) is a market-based land project, which was a community-based land reform carried out in six pilot districts in the southern part of Malawi set up by the Government of Malawi. More specifically, the project was set up to provide conditional cash transfers to poor families to relocate, purchase, develop, and cultivate larger plots of farm land. The CBRLDP initiative aims at easing land pressure and improving access to needy rural communities through voluntary land acquisition and redistribution. Its final objective is to increase the incomes of about 15,000 poor rural families through a market-based provision of land to the landless and land-poor beneficiary groups from the six Malawi districts.

  4. Context of findings

    The CBRLDP land initiative was implemented without any targeting of women. The project took place in southern Malawi where the primary inheritance system is matrilineal. In the study sample, 87.7 percent of the households follow the matrilineal rules, while 10.5 percent follow the patrilineal system (the remaining part follows other rules).

  5. Key findings

    On average, the results indicate a significant improvement in the well-being of beneficiary households, especially in terms of land size, agricultural output, crop-specific agricultural productivity, food security, asset holdings and agricultural income. In general, these impacts are higher in the short term and, while they remain significant, they slightly decrease over time.

    On average, in matrilineal households, results point to a smaller impact of the land project on female-headed beneficiary households, with the exception of asset accumulation and total income, to which women seem to devote more resources.

  6. Unanswered questions
    • What is the impact of the program on women in male-headed households, disaggregated by matrilineal and patrilineal inheritance systems?
NOTES
  1. Mendola, M., & Simtowe, F. (2015). The Welfare Impact of Land Redistribution: Evidence from a Quasi-Experimental Initiative in Malawi. World Development, 72, 53–69.

Research Organized by Outcome

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2013 IFPRI Discussion Paper “Can Government-Allocated Land Contribute to Food Security?” by Florence Santos, Diana Fletschner, Vivien Savath, and Amber Peterman.1

    This study was conducted in West Bengal, India and evaluates the impact of India’s land allocation and registration program in West Bengal. The Nijo Griha, Nijo Bhumi—“My Home, My Land”—program (NGNB) is a program that targets poor populations and promotes the inclusion of women’s names on land titles. The study collected information between 2010 and 2012 using both qualitative and quantitative methods. It examines the program’s selection of beneficiaries and a set of outcomes that are expected to lay the foundation for future food security, as well as short-term food security indicators.

    The quantitative survey sample consists of 1,035 households: 671 NGNB beneficiaries and 364 non-beneficiaries that serve as the control group. The households were located in three districts: Coochbehar, Bankura, and Jalpaiguri. The control group was made up of households who were on the list of NGNB eligible households but did not benefit from the program. The control group did not have rights to their own land, but they did have insecure access to some land. Heads of households (both male and female) were interviewed with a sub-set of questions given to the female spouse of male-headed households, where applicable.

  2. Questions posed
    • Do NGNB households have better outcomes than non-NGNB households in four areas that will contribute to future food security: perceptions of tenure security, use of credit for agricultural production, investments in agricultural production, and women's participation in decision making?
  3. Description of intervention

    The NGNB program is a government program that provides micro-land plots to landless agricultural laborers. The NGNB program gives priority to female-headed households and widows and explicitly stipulates that land titles issued to households with both male and female adults should be jointly titled to the primary male and female.

  4. Context of findings

    An NGO, Landesa, has provided technical support since 2009 to West Bengal’s Land & Land Reforms Department in piloting changes to the NGNB program, identifying best practices, and scaling it up.

    The program works through the state government and local communities to purchase and allocate small plots of land. The program also provides assistance with housing and basic inputs and capacity building in homestead food production and promotes local development through investment in infrastructure.

  5. Key findings

    The findings indicate that respondents perceive NGNB plots as more secure and that women report significantly higher levels of tenure security for NGNB plots than for non-NGNB land.

    More specifically, the women interviewed are (1) 8 percent less likely to report being concerned about having to vacate NGNB plots; (2) 18 percent more likely to report that they expect their households to have retained access and control over household plots five years from now, with this number dropping slightly, to 17 percent, when women referred to their own personal access and control; and (3) 7 percent more likely to report that they could convince other decision-makers in the family not to sell the land plot against their will.

    NGNB beneficiary households are more likely to access credit for agriculture and to invest in agricultural improvements, and women in NGNB beneficiary households are more likely to participate in food and agricultural decisions compared to their non-NGNB peers. Women in NGNB households are (1) 12 percent more likely to be involved in decisions to take loans from Self-Help Groups or microfinance institution; (2) 12 percent more likely to be involved in decisions on whether to purchase productive assets; (3) 9 percent more likely to be involved in decisions related to food purchase and consumption; and (4) more likely to be involved in decisions about the family land.

    Including women’s names on land titles significantly contributes to women’s perceptions of increased tenure security and to women’s involvement in food and agriculture decision making. Tenure security outcomes improve up to 10 percent among beneficiaries when women’s names are included on the land documents.

  6. Unanswered questions
    • Are there procedural guidelines for ensuring women and men are jointly titled? If so, what are they?
    • What interventions were in place to ensure that both women and men knew the value of their documented rights?
    • With any of the findings, is there a difference between women in male-headed households and female-headed households?
    • Were there any special considerations about the location of the land for female-headed households?
    • Are there differences in terms of impact between Hindu, Muslim, and Christian women?
    • Were there differences in the number of land documented in women’s names by location?
    • Were there incentives for officials to follow the rules re: joint titling?
NOTES
  1. Santos, F., Fletschner, D., Savath, V., & Peterman, A. (2013). “Can Government-Allocated Land Contribute to Food Security?” IFPRI Discussion Paper, December 2013.

  1. Study Information

     

    This section discusses the 2015 article “The Welfare Impact of Land Redistribution: Evidence from a Quasi-Experimental Initiative in Malawi” by Mariapia Mendola and Franklin Simtowe.1

    The empirical analysis is based on a four-round household panel data set collected among 1194 households in 6 districts (Mulanje, Thyolo, Mangochi, Machinga, Balaka and Ntcheu) in Malawi between 2006 and 2009. The data set consists of 391 beneficiary households or the “treatment group” and some “indirectly treated” households, i.e. 190 households left behind in the vacated areas and 214 households in receiving areas. The latter groups of households are partially affected by the project through changes in land availability and the labor market as a consequence of the departure or arrival of new households. These groups are reviewed in the analysis of spillover effects of the program placement. Finally, the data set contains information on 397 households in similar areas of neighbouring districts of Chiradzulu and Balaka, which consists of a totally unaffected “control group.”

    The study looks at head of household only and disaggregates by sex of head of household.

  2. Questions posed
    • Did the land redistribution project significantly increase land holdings, agricultural output, and income of beneficiary households and improve households' food security and especially durable asset ownership?
    • Did female-headed households make similar gains?
  3. Description of intervention

    The Community Based Rural Land Development Project (CBRLDP) is a market-based land project, which was a community-based land reform carried out in six pilot districts in the southern part of Malawi set up by the Government of Malawi. More specifically, the project was set up to provide conditional cash transfers to poor families to relocate, purchase, develop, and cultivate larger plots of farm land. The CBRLDP initiative aims at easing land pressure and improving access to needy rural communities through voluntary land acquisition and redistribution. Its final objective is to increase the incomes of about 15,000 poor rural families through a market-based provision of land to the landless and land-poor beneficiary groups from the six Malawi districts.

  4. Context of findings

    The CBRLDP land initiative was implemented without any targeting of women. The project took place in southern Malawi where the primary inheritance system is matrilineal. In the study sample, 87.7 percent of the households follow the matrilineal rules, while 10.5 percent follow the patrilineal system (the remaining part follows other rules).

  5. Key findings

    On average, the results indicate a significant improvement in the well-being of beneficiary households, especially in terms of land size, agricultural output, crop-specific agricultural productivity, food security, asset holdings and agricultural income. In general, these impacts are higher in the short term and, while they remain significant, they slightly decrease over time.

    On average, in matrilineal households, results point to a smaller impact of the land project on female-headed beneficiary households, with the exception of asset accumulation and total income, to which women seem to devote more resources.

  6. Unanswered questions
    • What is the impact of the program on women in male-headed households, disaggregated by matrilineal and patrilineal inheritance systems?
NOTES
  1. Mendola, M., & Simtowe, F. (2015). The Welfare Impact of Land Redistribution: Evidence from a Quasi-Experimental Initiative in Malawi. World Development, 72, 53–69.

Projects

  1. Project Description

    Following the formulation of a land policy in 2004, the government launched a land redistribution project: Community Based Rural Land Development Project (CBRLDP).1 The project’s goal is to contribute towards poverty reduction by increasing the incomes of 15,000 poor rural families in four pilot districts of Mulanje, Thyolo, Mangochi, and Machinga. The project involves the moving of groups of landless poor people from the highly populated and severely land scarce districts of Mulanje and Thyolo districts to the less densely populated and under-utilized estate farms of Mangochi and Machinga.

    The CBRLDP is a community-driven project being implemented through a decentralized framework. In this framework, communities are responsible for implementing CBRLDP development activities. Beneficiaries are self-selected, able to identify land to move to, and they prepare and implement their own farm plans. The two primary components of the project are land acquisition and farm development.

    Although there are Project Steering Committees (PSC) and National Technical Advisory Committees (NTAC) at the national level, the local structures such as District Executive Committees, Area Development Committees (ADC), Village Development Committees (VDC), Community Oversight Committees (COC), and Project Management Committees (PMC), play leading roles in the identification of interested beneficiaries.

  2. Methodology

    Interested beneficiaries are identified through sensitization meetings. Each household is allocated less than 2 hectares of land and Beneficiary Groups are designated as Trusts with their own constitutions to govern the Trust’s affairs.  Each household receives a settlement grant of $1050 of which 30% is for land acquisition, 10% covers settlement costs, and 60% is for farm development. The ownership of the land rests with the Trust with an option of titling the land as long as the Trust can pay the cost.  The beneficiaries have the right to decide the property regime in which they will hold the land, but for the first five years they are not allowed to dispose of or sub-divide the land.

  3. Outcomes

    The case studies in the report found that a lack of food security, low income and insecure access to land were factors that influenced women to participate in the CBRLDP. Women’s representation in all levels of the project was very low, which led to the design of selection criteria that promoted men’s access to and land ownership and excluded women from independent land ownership.  Many women were not ready to give up their current land in exchange for being part of the program.

    While group titling has the potential to create livelihoods among the beneficiaries, the study revealed that the livelihoods created by project are gendered because the majority of beneficiaries are men. Access to land within the CBRLDP was determined by powerful individuals such as chiefs, and members of the VDC and ADC who had the power to identify and endorse eligible beneficiaries.

    Both unmarried and married women held weaker rights within the beneficiary household. Although it is claimed that women have rights to land within the group titling of the CBRLDP, such rights exist at the Trust level but at the household level such rights are non-existent. Women’s rights within the household are determined by primary decision makers within the households. Furthermore, women, particularly those who are unmarried and widows are excluded from access to resources within the CBRLDP, in particular by the leadership of traditional institutions. This is because beneficiaries of the state funded subsidy programs are identified based on household socioeconomic status. Many households are male headed; as a result the program is dominated by male beneficiaries.

    While the project showed positive results at the household level, women within those households were not considered and thus lost rather than gained rights to land.

NOTES
  1. The information about this project all comes from: DB Saidi - ‎2015, Rural livelihoods and women's access to land: a case study of the Katuli area, Mangochi District, Malawi.

  1. Project Description

    The Nijo Griha, Nijo Bhumi—“My Home, My Land”—program (NGNB) is a West Bengal Government homestead allocation program that started in 2009 with the goal of providing homestead land to homesteadless agricultural laborer households.1  Land that is redistributed is either government land or land the government purchases from private landholders.

  2. Methodology

    Female-headed households and families with daughters only (no sons) are prioritized as well as impoverished agricultural laborer families and families with little income.

    The land plots are at least 5 decimals (5 hundredths of an acre) and are allocated in clusters. The guidelines require both spouses names to be listed, with women’s names first.

     

  3. Outcomes

    It is sometimes difficult for people who receive land to actually move to the land because there are no services and generally the land is not close to where they currently live.

NOTES
  1. Santos, F., Fletschner, D., Savath, V., & Peterman, A. (2013). “Can Government-Allocated Land Contribute to Food Security?” IFPRI Discussion Paper, December 2013.