Nelly Bassily | May 6, 2013
Poor people with few connections to those in high places often have trouble getting hold of land, and retaining control over it once it is theirs. Traditional peoples often do not have legal mechanisms such as title deeds that formalize individual claims over communal territories. Therefore, there is no legal back-up when powerful individuals, groups or companies try to take land into private or corporate ownership. It is unusual to get land back once it is taken away.
Land tenure is the relationship amongst people with respect to land and natural resources such as water and trees. Rules of tenure define how access is granted for the use, control, and transfer of land. In simple terms, land tenure systems determine who can use which resources for how long, and under what conditions.
Land tenure is an important part of social, political and economic life. It may be well-defined and enforceable in a formal court of law or through traditional (customary) authorities. Alternatively, land tenure may be relatively poorly defined, and leave land and people vulnerable to exploitation. The FAO has produced a document on the subject which can be found here: http://www.fao.org/docrep/005/Y4307E/y4307e05.htm
Issue #242 of Farm Radio Weekly highlighted the efforts of the Tanzanian government to wrest grazing land from the Maasai for “conservation” reasons. The situation is still fresh in the minds of locals, and the story can be found here: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/04/15/news-brief-tanzanian-maasai-to-lose-land-to-%E2%80%98green-land-grab%E2%80%99-agencies/ As the whole subject of land grabbing is current, the Notes to broadcasters linked with the story have been updated, and are available through this link: http://weekly.farmradio.org/2013/04/15/notes-to-broadcasters-on-land-grabs/
Women often find it hardest to stake a claim for land through national or customary laws. A Notes to broadcasters is available on the Barza website (June 2012) with stories and scripts on the subject, as well as program ideas. It is available here: http://www.barzaradio.com/content/notes-broadcasters-women-and-land-ownership-2