Despite good intentions, rural land registration schemes have often failed to reach women and other vulnerable people—revealing the need for more inclusive strategies that target these groups and strengthen their land tenure security. One such strategy has emerged in Ethiopia where the Land Investment for Transformation (LIFT) program, managed by DAI, has prioritized the recruitment of social development officers (SDOs), young graduates who play a critical coordinating role in the implementation of gender-equitable and socially inclusive approaches to land registration.
The SDO strategy has successfully extended the reach of second-level land certification (SLLC) in Ethiopia, a systematic approach to the registration of rural land parcels, which collates both textual and spatial data on landowners and their land holdings. In particular, SDOs have helped to address a major challenge facing previous registration efforts—the planning and implementation of timely and effective public awareness and communication (PAC) strategies targeting women and other vulnerable people.
This guide, informed by the success of the SDO strategy in Ethiopia, identifies lessons learned and outlines critical steps that other countries can apply to their own rural land administration programs as they strive to ensure these programs become more gender and socially inclusive. The document provides a valuable learning resource that is consistent with DAI’s commitment to helping governments and communities implement inclusive land programs.
Land tenure is a core thematic focus of DAI’s work. The company has an in-house land tenure team that works across all types of tenure systems—customary, private, and public—to strengthen the security and rights of land users. DAI focuses on matching appropriate reforms and capacity building in each context in cost-effective ways, working with and through local institutions in an integrated fashion. Our work supporting governments to undertake systematic large-scale land registration programs is unparalleled. DAI has helped demarcate and register more than 23 million parcels of land worldwide since 2009. In all DAI land reform work, gender, social inclusion, and related safeguards are central considerations and the organization maximizes local participation and ownership.
This document is structured into eight main sections. The introduction provides background information on the LIFT initiative. The proceeding sections outline the steps countries can take to initiate more inclusive and participatory forms of land registration through the use of SDOs, or similar approaches adapted to local contexts. These steps include preliminary planning workshops, capacity strengthening, the mapping of vulnerable groups, public awareness meetings, public awareness messaging, strategic communication
Supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged groups
Without strengthening the land tenure rights of all societal groups, we risk increasing inequality and exacerbating the economic marginalization of disadvantaged groups. The land tenure rights of women are often granted at the discretion of male relatives, and others, such as the elderly, orphan children, and people with disabilities, may have only limited power to maintain rights over their land. Given that landholders have to be present during the critical adjudication, demarcation, and public display stages of land registration programs, additional support should be provided so that women, the elderly, disabled people, and pregnant or nursing women are able to attend and participate in these critical events.
Authors and Publishers
DAI (Development Alternatives Incorporated)
DAI’s mission is to make a lasting difference in the world by helping people improve their lives. We envision a world in which communities and societies become more prosperous, fairer and better governed, safer, healthier, and environmentally more sustainable.
Land Tenure and Property Rights