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This article was originally published through CSDS (Center for Social Development Studies) at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand. It can be found at: https://www.csds-chula.org/publications/2020/4/28/critical-nature-are-chinas-dams-on-the-mekong-causing-downstream-drought-the-importance-of-scientific-debate
The ‘age of ignorance’
For a long time land governance, land tenure and land rights remained in the ‘age of ignorance’. We have known for some time that land governance is a key ingredient for social, economic and environmental development; what was missing, however, was the data. With the little information available to us at the time, we set priorities and crafted interventions for our course of work. Relying on a few rough figures meant that we were often repeating mantras and slogans based on loose, rather than on hard and reliable facts. Most notable among these was the often repeated and now widely disputed, “women own 2% of the world’s land”.
We meet Rosalía in a roadside café in a dusty town in the Quiché department, in Guatemala’s Western Highlands. She lowers her voice whenever people come in – you never know who might be listening. Land is sensitive stuff, especially in Quiché, a region that still bears, perhaps more than any other part of Guatemala, the scars of the civil war (1960-1996) – as we will see. In 2018 alone, 15 defenders of land rights in Guatemala have been killed with total impunity, several of them in Quiché.