Tenure Security & SDG Indicator 1.4.2- How do we measure perceptions on land tenure security?

20 June 2017 to 4 July 2017

From June 20th to July 4th, 2017, the Land Portal, in collaboration with GLTN/GLII, Land Alliance and LandAC, will co-facilitate a dialogue through which a variety of stakeholders will focus on discussions centered around measuring the perception of land tenure security in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

The land tenure and property rights community has worked tirelessly to contribute to several of the Goals, with a major focus on Goal #1—to end poverty in all its forms everywhere. In order to reflect the paramount importance of land rights in the eradication of poverty, the UN System has developed Indicator 1.4.2. to monitor the progress of the security of land and property rights by countries during the SDG period until 2030.  The specific text of Indicator 1.4.2 is, “Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.” 

We are now in a period in which each of the SDG indicators is being reviewed by the UN’s statistical experts to assess the methods for measuring them, and the current and future data sources for providing globally comparable statistics on them. 

The online discussion therefore aims to widen the scope of awareness among land sector stakeholders about the efforts to measure Indicator 1.4.2., elicit feedback and views on the plans from a diversity of stakeholders, and focus attention on some of the particular benefits and challenges in measuring perception of tenure security as called for in the Indicator 1.4.2. 


  • Highlight the importance of monitoring land tenure security for all and the provision in the SDGs Indicator 1.4.2. including national policy reforms, global scorecard effects, and resource allocation in response to progress or lack thereof.
  • Provide readouts from the EGM on survey data about main methodologies and questions for measuring security and state-of-play for reclassification of 1.4.2. 
  • Introduce the opportunities and challenges of collecting data on perception of land tenure security.
  • Discuss the specific challenges and opportunities for collecting meaningful data by gender, and for vulnerable groups(e.g. Indigenous/territorial rights) in monitoring and reporting on perception data
  • Profile innovative data collection/reporting approaches and best practices from various players on perception data, disaggregation  -and locate their contribution in monitoring indicator 1.4.2
  • Provide specific recommendations on areas of focus on perception data to the custodian agencies responsible for indicator 1.4.2, currently working on the methodology for measuring this indicator consideration.
  • Provide key messages for the overall LANDac2017 including GLII session on the SDGs - with a focus on tenure security and land governance in relation to the SDGs, leaving no one behind. 

Dialogue Questions

  • What data is needed to measure tenure security for all? What is available, and what are the plans for collecting the required datasets?
  • How do we understand the perception of tenure security?
  • What gender and other group dynamics that need to be considered in collecting, analyzing and reporting on perceptions and legal documentation?
  • What are some of the best practices we have on how perception data has been collected and disseminated? (Existing or developing), challenges and opportunities. 


Hello debate participants,

As mentioned above, the debate is now open for your comments! We invite each of you to contribute as much as you see fit, and to encourage your colleagues, students or friends to do the same.  Just as an opener, please find here below some suggestions to help guide you through the next few weeks, of what I’m sure will be very interesting conversations.

All the best for now,


  1. Your contribution can be as short or as long as you would like, but we suggest something around 300 words being most appropriate!
  2. We are a community of co-learners who are all a bit short on time!  Feel free to use existing work or presentations.  We don’t expect text to be polished or perfect.
  3. That being said, please do feel free to engage in real time dialogue (and debate) with fellow discussants. 
  4. Jump in whenever you would like, but don’t feel obligated to follow us throughout the two weeks.  We’ll be summarizing and sharing the main points with you as soon as we can. 
  5. If you have any questions, or would like to flag anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at: stacey.zammit@landportal.info.  You may also reach Malcom or Everlyne, who will also be facilitating the discussion. 

Dear participants,

As co-convener of this important event, the Land Portal would like to thank both the discussions co-organizers, LandAc, GLTN-GLII and the Land Alliance.  One of our main aims as the Land Portal is to increase access to information on land, to ensure more responsible land governance and secured land rights for all.  

What we've noticed, however, is that most of the land-related data and information needed to effectively monitor the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) land indicators is often inaccessible, unavailable, or dispersed across various websites and databases. What is more is that there seem to be a  general lack of understanding and awareness of (1) the land indicators in the SDGs, (2) the monitoring and reporting  framework  3) the roles of various actors involved in the SDG process! 

Finally, we've realized that increasing knowledge and understanding on land indicators in the SDGs can be further enhanced through rigorous promotion and campaign strategies that communicate and promote dialogue between various audiences and stakeholders.

This is why we are joining forces to undertake a number of activites aimed at promoting information and campaigning around the SDG land monitoring agenda.  A detailed “SDG” section of Land Portal will be created in the coming weeks to showcase the most important information related to all of the land indicators in the SDGs as well as the steps that mustbe taken to ensure the SDG land indicator reaches Tier II and I statuses.

As mentioned, strategic advocacy and campaigning around SDG land indicators are important.  This is why we have joined the effort of co-convening this discussion.  We want to encourage learning, exchange and discussion around the SDG land indicators.

The specific aims are to:

1) share relevant documents /information you think could be published on the LP page, 

2) provide insights and comments that help people to better understand the process and stimulate constructive dialogue with other stakeholders

3) support the committment of Co-custodian agencies responsible for land indicators in the SDGs, including 1.4.2 in securing re-classification of this indicator from Tier III to II by October 2017.


I therefore invite each of you to participate in this online discussion and come back to us for any questions! 

Thank you,



I am very excited to be part of this on-line discussion! Grateful to Land Portal and the sponsoring organizations for bringing us together. 

The SDG land indicator process offers an unprecedented opportunity for the land community to put our issues front-and-center in global development priorities. 

The process is really pushing the land community to face our challenges with global data.  The pressure of timelines and scrutiny from the IAEG-SDG reclassification review is encouraging us to move ahead quickly and we need that if we're going to move the needle on secure land rights for all.  

Individual perceptions of tenure security are a fundamental piece of information about land rights in any system or geography. An individual's perception encapsulates all the information available to the person, synthesizing the gamut of cultural, legal, familial, and local circumstances influencing the individual. 

Perceptions also pose challenges for measurement as they are a subjective construct which can be sensitive to the nuances of question formulation and context. The good news is that the land community has advanced substantially in the last couple years on testing approaches to measuring perceptions which address these challenges, and is continuing to refine these methods. 

I was very pleased to see the SDG 1.4.2 Expert Group Meeting on survey data that convened in Washington, DC on May 25-26 proposed a few core questions for the indicator, including one on perceptions. We will be sharing that question and other material from the EGM shortly here. We also will be sharing the material from yesterday's webinar on SDG 1.4.2. and the role of monitoring of perceptions of tenure security.  

Looking forward to a wide-ranging discussion and learning a lot from everybody participating.

Welcome to the discussion!

What data is needed to measure tenure security for all?

The data needed to measure tenure security should cover the following:

Information on the tenure system in a country. This is captured by the Global Land Indicators Initiative’s Land Indicators for Globally Comparable Data for Land Tenure and Land Administration Services which includes but is not limited to:

  • Official land tenure system (e.g. Torrens or Deed System)
  • Land Administration time
  • Number of tenue systems (this should include the % of persons ascribing to each system, their demographics and the associated time)
  • Dispute resolution mechanisms (this should include the % of disputes solved by each system and the associated time)
  • Registered vs Unregistered Land etc

Essentially, this information should give an objective and statistical perspective of tenure. This information is also the starting point for assessing all other tenure data as it will provide the standard by which systems will be analyzed to make improvements, it will provide a guide to what data to collect when measuring perception as this is most times contextual and it will also feed into international tenure initiatives. Ideally, the state should collect and manage this information through the day to day operations of its land related offices.

Comparison of data across countries or regions can be tricky. For example, the time land administration takes in a country may be relatively high and therefore indicate that persons are more likely to have insecure tenure, however, this may be an incorrect assessment is if fraud is common in the country, lengthy time taken for due diligence may be put in by the state to reduce fraud on land transactions therefore increasing the security of tenure once the transaction is complete.

Nuances that exist in a country cannot be overlooked either. For example, in Jamaica, we ascribe to the Torrens system of land registration. Despite the fact they there are many informal rural and slum settlements, where this rigorous and lofty system may be out of the reach of citizens, because of the local culture where land is of great economic and social value, government will be reluctant to move to dual systems that may empower the poor but also reduce their standards.

A person’s tenure relative to what is deemed secure within that tenure system.

This allows an assessment of how to improve a person’s tenure status on the individual level and analysis of mass results can indicate trends that need to be addressed by policy makers or through public education. These questions and the ones hereafter should be captured by enumeration or focus groups.

  • How did you come to live on the land
  • How many years have you lived on the land?
  • Do you occupy as owners/tenants/settlers?
  • Do you have any paperwork to support your occupation?

The nuances of tenure in a person’s country/ The perception of a person’s tenure security

Q: What would make you feel secure in how you hold land? (Locally persons often cite that their security is associated with their name being on the government tax record when it is a Certificate of Title that guarantees ultimate security)


The demographic and socio-economic causes and effects of tenure security

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Income
  • Education etc

I am pleased to join and contribute to this important dialogue on monitoring and measurement of perception of tenure security in the context of SDGs with a focus on indicator 1.4.2. This dialogue follows a webinar co-convened by Global Land Indicators Initiative (GLII) a global platform on land governance monitoring hosted by Global Land Tool Network at UN Habitat, jointly with Land Portal, Land Alliance, Land Academy in the Netherlands and USAID; which I had the privilege to moderate.


GLII is as a collaborative and inclusive global initiative for development of comparable land Indicators for comparable data for monitoring land governance issues at scale for policy and decision making. GLII plays a key role in global coordination and convening of land and data communities; facilitate and provide technical support to the custodian agencies responsible for land indicators in the SDGs, and other land monitoring initiatives.

There is no doubt that secure tenure rights to land and property are strongly linked to poverty reduction, women empowerment, peace and security, social cohesion, adequate housing and urban development, conservation of natural resources and mitigation of the negative impact of climate change. Land governance enables efficient and effective appropriation and use of land, regulating land concentration, fragmentation and expropriation. This guarantees tenure security in rural and urban areas, and enhances the productive use of land. Effective national, regional and global land monitoring is central to ensuring that changes in land governance result in improved conditions and sustainable development opportunities for all, especially for women, vulnerable groups and those living in poverty.

SDG Land Indicator 1.4.2: Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure, is under  Goal 1 (“End poverty in all its forms everywhere”), contributing to Target 1.4: by 2030 ensure that all men and women, particularly the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership, and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology, and financial services including microfinance.

Agenda 2030 makes it possible for countries to contribute to global scale monitoring of the proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.

The land indicator 1.4.2 proposed for Sustainable Development Goal 1 on ending poverty is the percentage of people with secure tenure rights to land (out of total adult population), with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure. The indicator clearly underscores the importance of secure tenure rights to land, both documented and perceived tenure security for both men and women, and provides for legal recognition of all tenure types; as principles promoted by the continuum of land approach as shared in John Gitau’s presentation. This indicator (1.4.2) is considered universal and a backbone land indicator in the SDGs with direct and indirect link to all other land indicators. All presentations and reflections made by land experts in the webinar (also see attached presentations for more details) provided insights, experiences, opinions and tested approaches to data collection for monitoring and evaluating perception of tenure security, and the link to the continuum of land rights approach.

Discussions and reflections made affirmed the need for two data sets; data on perception of tenure security and administrative data; as two components needed to measure tenure security -indicator 1.4.2.  It was unanimously agreed that measuring perception of tenure security applies to those with legal recognition/documentation of their tenure rights and those with no legal recognition/documentation of their rights. Despite individuals or communities having a legal document like a title deed to their land, they still could perceive their rights to be insecure; while those without legal documents but with good land a governance structure that is working for them may perceive their tenure rights as secure.

Perception of tenure security of individuals and or communities in rural or urban areas, therefore, may vary based on their context and situations including threat of external aggression to dispossess them of their land/forced eviction, inter and or intra-community conflicts, disasters , past experiences  that affected communities like eviction of indigenous communities or slum dwellers, change of land polities, historical issues including restitutions, etc. Intra-household factors including power relations between male and female siblings, female and male spouses also affect gender relations likely to influence perception of tenure security including inheritance rights.

Land Alliance through its Property Rights Index (PRIndex), a new initiative that gives focus on measuring perception of tenure security shared results from 9 pilot countries during the webinar as presented by Malcolm Childress. This initiative showed the importance of application of new technologies that embrace low cost and efficient innovation for data collection; and how this is an opportunity capable of complementing efforts of by the custodian agencies and National Statistical Offices in monitoring indicator 1.4.2, particularly taking into account the list of survey questions for data collection developed and validated in an EGM held in Washington DC by the custodian agencies (UN Habitat and World BanK) with support of GLII - see  presentation by Robert Ndugwa.

Being a Tier III by classification of the IAEG-SDGs, more work is needed to lift this indicator from this Tier to Tier II by October 2017, acknowledging the efforts of the custodian including on-going consultative meetings with National Statistical Offices, land and data communities including an upcoming EGM on use of land administrative data scheduled for early July in Barcelona and a side event on the same to take place on the 10th July at the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) in New York. An EGM on securing women’s land rights in the SDGs is also organized by GLII/GLTN in collaboration with Oxfam, Landesa and UN Women with a focus on all land indicators is scheduled for 8 – 9 July in New York ahead of the High Level Political Forum October 10 – 17th.

The need to build on existing initiatives including household surveys like DHS, MICS and LSMS, impact evaluations on tenure security conducted by USAID and Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) were underscored in a presentation by Caleb Stevens from USAID, noting the opportunity to use such data to leverage efforts to secure re-classification of indicator 1.4.2 by Inter-Agency Expert Group on SDGs in October 2017. Echoing the efforts of the Global Donor Working Group on Land, in reaching out and mobilizing relevant data that respond to the agreed questions from the EGM on 1.4.2 in Washington, Caleb noted the importance of this efforts in establishing the baseline data needed to support the re-classifying bid for this indicator from Tier III to Tier II in October 2017. While acknowledging high level of confidence expressed by global land experts on the agreed list of questions at the EGM on 1.4.2, USAID expressed support for this indicator and commitment to continue supporting the efforts of the custodian agencies including testing to reflect on the validity of the agreed question in its on-going initiatives.

All presenters unanimously agreed with the need to ensure coordinated multi-stakeholders efforts to support the work of the custodian agencies to secure this indicator in the SDGs monitoring framework including the contributions of the CSOs; a role that GLII continues to play; while pursuing alignment with other land governance frameworks including VGGTs, and the Framework and Guidelines on Land Policy in Africa.

While acknowledging that this is an important land indictor in the SDGs, all other land indicators as included in SDGs 2, 5, 11 and 15 remain critical to advancing sustainable land governance agenda and enabling comparable monitoring of critical land governance issues and their contribution in achieving SDGs by 2030. More work needs to be done to ensure comprehensive monitoring of land governance issues beyond the provisions of land indicators in the SDGs; including application of GLII indicators for complimentary data on land governance issues going beyond the SDGs and encompassing other land governance frameworks. 

This webinar has certainly increased participants level of awareness, understanding and appreciation of the importance of perception of tenure security; and the critical ingredients of tenure security. Did you miss the webinar? Never mind, here you will find the presentations from our experts referenced in this reflection note. Further, a video link to the webinar will soon be made available for viewing.

Are you planning to attend the LANDac Conference? If so, this discussion continues on to the LANDac Conference coming up next week in the Netherlands where a high level panel will reflect on this discussion and respond to your questions.  You can send us your inputs including brief write ups, comments on the discussion shared and ask your questions and we will review and respond to online and respond to them directly at the LANDac Conference. It will be good to hear from you.


More Information:


Thanks to our co-organizers of the webinar:

Global Land Indicators Initiative/GLTN, LANDac, USAID, LandPortal Foundation andLand Alliance

Special recognition of our supporters:            

UKAID, LEGEND, Omidyar Network, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and UNHABITAT

Well there are various range (continum of rights) within the tenure continuum. The relationship with land varies from place to place. In Africa, relationship with land is on daily basis. majority of families has something on land, ranging from pets, animals to small gardens and events. Therefore the use of land for a particular time without eviction can be regarded as secured. 

The problem with tenure security is always located at the extreme end of informal land tenure. Perhaps this problem exist as a result of the negative perception infomality connotes. When a set of people are excluded especially the poor they have no option than to find alternative shelter and location which most times are areas within the urban centres, the Periurban areas and farmlands and sometimes in precarious location close to source of livelihood. 

The poor therefore has different perception towards tenure security because of the temporality of the makeshift dwellings the occupy. Sometimes the land is not paid for so they understand there is no security. The fulani nomads in Nigeria see no reson to acquire a piece of land for security. although increasing cattle rustling and clashes with farmers and communities has led to policy makers seeking for solution to end the crises. The fulani cattle herder see no reason to settle in a fixed location and therefore percived tenure security differently.

Street hawkers percieve tenure differently as well, as a result of the temporary nature of hawking and street trading. They are aware that government official could be around anytime. For them perception of security is only that time they are not forced to leave.

Perception is measured differently depending on the side of continum the tenure is, ranging from formal tenure to Non-formal tenure within the continum of rights.

Thanks very much Ms. Solina Solomon and Ms. Everlyne Nairesiae for these reflections and materials. Would encourage everyone to click through to the webinar presentations on survey data for indicator 1.4.2.   

Robert Ndugwa's summary includes the recommended core survey questions for servicing indicator 1.4.2: [Robert's slide 16:]

Agreed on a core set of questions for servicing indicator 1.4.2. Perception of Tenure 1) How likely are you to have a loss of your land/property or use right in the next 5 years? (very likely, somewhat likely, not likely) * If likely/somewhat likely, what is the source of the potential conflict or loss of land/property (national government, local authorities, commercial, family members, other individuals) 2) Do you have the right to exclusively or jointly bequeath your land/property? (yes individually, yes jointly, no) Legally recognized documentation *Country specific; administrative data may be enough for some countries (How to merge with admin?) 1) Do you have property/tenure rights over this land/property or another land/property? (If yes what type) 2) Do you have documentation (of the property rights) on this land/property or another land/property? (yes this property, yes some properties, yes all my properties, no documentation) 3) What is the documentation over the land/property? (Each country must be consulted on type of documentation that is legally recognized and various forms of documentation; use pictures for enumerators) * If yes, can you show us the documentation and whose name is on the document? (enumerator codes accordingly whether doc seen or not and whether legal or not) *Important to be legally recognized documentation Disaggregation Gender of respondent: male/female Tenure type: (country specific)freehold, leasehold, etc… Land use type: residential, agricultural, pastoral, business, forest, community/group/parcel share, other (potential drop as not needed for disaggregation but needed for 5.a.1 for what is ag land vs not) *Need for testing and requires context/purpose on each question (also experience using these questions) 

I think it is a big step forward to propose a reduced-form set of questions which encompass the three elements in indicator 1.4.2.

An interesting topic! When you look at existing data sources like LGAF, IPRI, GODI, etc. there seems to be a bias towards individual titled land which can be sold on an open market. IN customary systems you would, for example, not expect many households to have written documents, but customary systems can have secure tenure without such documentation. Also the land generally cannot be sold on the open market and in many communal systems (e.g. in Latin America) the only written documentation is for the community as a whole....

How is PRINDEX handling this situation and do you use different questions for customary tenure interviews? Also how does this affect how the SDG 1.4.2 indicator is measured - will you find that people's perception of tenure security is good, but they don't have written documentation?

Thanks in advance.