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How can pro-poor sustainable land tenure be secured? A discussion on communal vs. individual land rights.

This discussion will be running in three separate languages. Feel free to comment in Français or Español depending on preference.

Dear all,

I would like to invite you to a discussion on pro-poor sustainable land tenure: communal vs. individual land rights. This discussion is aimed at gathering concrete examples on the ground that can be useful for practitioners in the field. Given my background, I developed a strong interest in what makes land tenure sustainable for local inhabitants. For me this entails that the people living on the land have the means to continue to do so in the future without any threats from internal or external actors (which in developing countries, without proper land tenure arrangements, is often not the case). Claims are being made by  investors who buy up land where local communities are living. Because of these demands, arrangements are increasingly being made by these rural communities in collaboration with development organizations to protect the rights of local peasants. These arrangements range from individual titling to communal titling to the land.

There are different pro’s and con’s on both options. Both involve complex social, economical, and political relations with different power dynamics in the community. Individual rights can  lead to strategies where better off community members try to link with the market system and threaten the tenure security of the community by wanting to sell their rights. Also, community members can fence the land they see as theirs and shut themselves off from the community. Communal land rights involve working together and paying taxes together. This can stem from communal disputes. Consequently, the question is are these arrangements ought to be seen as temporary, transitional or absolute? As a result, I would like to address three main questions in this discussion:

  • What specific examples on good policies concerning titling of land can you share with respect to communal and/or individual titling?

  • What successful cases can you mention in which communities gained a communal title?

  • What successful cases can you mention in which local inhabitants gained an individual title?

  • What is the most sustainable solution to improve tenure security for local inhabitants according to you?


I look forward to an interesting debate, and in particular hope that you will share many practical examples of cases where land rights are secured so that this can lead for stimulating input for practitioners.

You can participate by leaving a comment on this page. Thank you in advance for your time and contributions I also encourage you to join the Land Portal! If you have problems posting, please send me an email at nienkebusscher@hotmail.com.


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