Land Tenure for Social and Economic Inclusion in Yemen : Issues and Opportunities | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
février 2013
ISBN / Resource ID: 
oai:openknowledge.worldbank.org:10986/12298
Copyright details: 
CC BY 3.0 Unported

The report, Land Tenure for Social and
Economic Inclusion in Yemen: Issues and Opportunities was
completed in December 2009. The report addresses the
problems of land ownership in Yemen and the various social
and economic problems associated with the system of land
ownership. Property rights under Yemeni Law are expressed
both in custom and statute, but both are informed by shari a
(Islamic law), which provides the basic property categories
for land in Yemen. There are unfortunately no reliable
official statistics for the amount of land within these
categories, or how much arable land (a small percentage of
total land area) falls within each. It is clear however that
certain groups suffer from disadvantages in accessing land
and land rights. Daughters are disadvantaged by shari a
rules which limit their inheritance shares to only half that
of a son. Youth, unable to inherit until the demise of their
parents and lacking the capital to buy land, lack access to
land and other employment opportunities, which endangers
social stability. There are occupational castes (artisans)
who are discriminated in land holdings and ethnic
minorities, former slaves and immigrants from East Africa,
who lack access to land, and especially land ownership,
limiting them to the most menial labor. Amongst the
recommendations the report addresses are; the law on state
land and compulsory acquisition of land by the state are
relatively recent and are in general in line with current
best practices. There is however some fundamental problems
in its legal delineation of state land. First and foremost,
there is a need to provide a clearer distinction between
state and communal land. In addition, it is clear that
implementation of the law concerning state land is badly
flawed, and that there are abuses in terms of uncompensated
land takings and illegal appropriations of state lands for
private purposes. The law concerning private ownership of
land is satisfactory in most respects. Yemen has a long
tradition of private ownership and land and rental markets.
Those markets are clearly quite active, at least in areas
where the economic basis for such market activity exists.
The right of pre-emption in Yemeni law, a shari a
institution, has been criticized by some commentators, but
more recent scholarship recognizes its value. Waqf may
offend the economic sensibilities of market economists in
that waqf land is permanently held out of the land (sales)
market, but it does move in rental markets and in the
circumstances of Yemen it performs strong social functions.
It supports important public functions and provides access
to land for the poor but is increasingly negatively affected
by weak supervision and corrupt practices. Tenancies are an
important means of access to land in Yemen, especially for
the poor, and their relatively stable terms stable terms
under customary rules have historically provided a
reasonable degree of tenure security. Post-land reform
issues remain a problem in the southern governorates.
Improving the system for recording of land rights has been a
focus of law reform discussions in Yemen in recent years.
Women are clearly disadvantaged by the terms of inheritance
law, and even more greatly disadvantaged by the failure in
practice to realize their limited rights under that law. The
situation of disadvantaged ethnic groups deserves priority
attention. Their lack of secure access to land, especially
owned land, is a violation of the humanitarian values of
Islam and condemns them to continuing poverty. There is
growing competition for land. This is driven in some parts
of the country by the development of new water technologies
which have enabled larger- scale cultivation and created
economic opportunities. It is clear that land dispute
resolution mechanisms are not functioning well.

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World Bank

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The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. We are not a bank in the ordinary sense but a unique partnership to reduce poverty and support development.

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