Secure access to land and shelter is widely considered to be a condition for economic growth and poverty reduction. Several inter-governmental institutions are involved in developing and monitoring indicators that measure land tenure security to promote policy processes toward this end.
But despite growing interest among development practitioners to identify indicators that measure changes in land tenure security for vulnerable groups, little consensus exists about what good indicators are, how indicators should be used, and whether indicators are pro-poor and gender-sensitive.
A major issue is that the same tenure situation – such as the percentage of land covered by title deeds – can imply different degrees of security to different groups, depending on historical and cultural factors, administrative practices, political choices and balance of power among various parties.
Partly in response to these and associated challenges, major inter-governmental institutions, including the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United States Agency for International Develpment (USAID) and UN-HABITAT, are pooling efforts to produce a harmonized set of land indicators. These involve measures of governance and administration, distribution and access, functioning markets and investments, and objective and subjective tenure security indicators in rural and urban areas.
In addition, other initiatives aim at developing indicators for common property (International Land Coalition), and including land indicators as part of project evaluations (various) and governance assessments at country level (UNDP). These and other initiatives demonstrate growing international attention to issues of rights and access to land and other natural resources as a means to reduce poverty.