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What Are Land Rights?

Land rights are the legal or customary rights people have to their land, home, and resources they rely on. People who live in high-income countries often take their land rights for granted because their land rights are usually legally documented by deeds, titles, or contracts and actively protected by police and courts. But in emerging economic regions, hundreds of millions of people with insecure land rights live in fear of eviction.

Insecure land and resource rights create dysfunction, conflict, and trap hardworking families in poverty for generations.

Without land rights families don’t have long-term security to their land and property. That means they don’t have the security and incentive to invest in their land or home to improve their lives. Insecure land rights are a problem in many countries from Afghanistan to Zambia. But it is a particularly common challenge for indigenous people, women, residents of slums, and smallholder farmers in emerging economies. If we want to reduce hunger and conflict, protect the planet, and empower women, we need to strengthen land rights for women, men, and communities around the world.

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