Plotlines 2011 - Landesa's External Newsletter
In this issue:
From Our Field Focus Blog
Landesa in the News
Notes from the Field
Land rights can protect smallholder farmers from land acquisitions.

The stakes are high as commercial land acquisitions are on the rise. Secure land rights can protect smallholder farmers from land acquisitions.

Feature Story:

The Global Land Rush

You may have noticed the increased media attention highlighting a new global trend - commercial land acquisitions.

Dubbed "Land Grabs" by the media, these commercial land acquisitions, in which investors buy up or lease vast swaths of land in developing countries to develop super-sized farms, pose particular danger for subsistence farmers, women and other pastoralists in developing countries, many of whom have been using their plot of land for generations but have no formal paperwork to prove their legal ownership of the land.

Landesa has written an issue brief on the subject that will help governments, investors, civil society and journalists make better sense of this global trend that has the potential to totally transform - for good or ill - much of the developing world.  The stakes are high. Some nations, including Madagascar and Mozambique, have already received requests from investors for more than half of their total cultivable land area. The displacement of local farmers required if all of those projects were to be approved, would be massive.

For more information about this important and timely subject, please read issue brief on our website.


From Our Field Focus Blog  


The Importance of Locally Legitimate Law Reform

By Elisa Scalise - March 28, 2011 → Read More 


New Laws in China Could Protect Individual Land Rights

By Li Ping - March 22, 2011 Read More  


Top 6 Myths About Land Acquisitions

By Darryl Vhugen - March 14, 2011 Read More 


Landlessness is Not Forever   

By Robert Mitchell - March 9, 2011 Read More 


Landesa in the News

Landesa weighs in on the threat of land takings in China 

An Op-ed by Landesa Founder Roy Prosterman and Gao Yu, Landesa's China Country Director, ran in the South China Morning Post and argues for laws to be strengthened around land rights for poor farmers in China. The article is about the need to strengthen land rights to protect farmers in China. The South China Morning Post also ran an article by Tom Holland, which cited Landesa's land rights survey of 17-provinces across China. 


USA Today reports: China's farmers and developers clash

Calum MacLeod reports in USA Today on the rise of rural land takings and the destabilizing impact this is having in China's rural areas. This was first reported in Landesa's survey across 17 provinces in China. The article draws from the survey's key findings and quotes Landesa's senior attorney in China, Li Ping. To read this article that spotlights farmers in the line of fire, and Chinese agriculture at a crossroads, click here.


The China Daily cites Landesa survey findings

An article in The China Daily, China's premier English-language newspaper draws heavily from Landesa's 17 province survey of Chinese agriculture to state that intense pressure from development is creating social instability in rural areas. The report calls for government clarification of land rights. To read the article, click here.  


Notes from the Field

Landesa Center for Women's Land Rights (LCWLR)

A new website, Trust Law Women, founded by TrustLaw, a Thompson Reuters Foundation Service, will feature blogs by Renee Giovarelli and other LCWLR staff. The first couple of blogs are already on line. You can read them by visiting her page on the TrustLaw website.

Landesa is continuing its LCWLR Fellowship Program. The one-year program is for professionals dedicated to strengthening women's land rights in developing countries. The fellows gain the expertise and experience needed to work with policymakers and non-governmental organizations in developing countries to effectively advocate and obtain secure land rights for women and their families. The 2012 fellows will be announced in May.

IndiaGovernment land title distribution ceremony

First Women's Land Rights Center Opens in Odisha, India

On March 8, 2011, on the 100th anniversary of international women's day, the Indian state of Odisha opened its first Women's Land Rights Facilitation Centre. With the help of our programs and partners in India, the centre will help poor women obtain legal rights to land, to allow them to provide for their families and lift themselves out of poverty. Read More 


An Example of Making an Impact: Landesa's Legal Aid Center in Chongqing

Li Ping providing legal consultationOur second legal aid center, which opened last year in Chongqing, is already having an impact. This month Center staff dealt with a common problem in China: women who were denied rights to their parents' land after they married and left their village. Chinese law states that land can be inherited equally by both men and women. Furthermore it says that women who move away from their parents' village when they marry should not be cut off from the benefits of that land. However, in practice Chinese women report that village officials, who control land use, sometimes refuse to honor women's claims to the land.

In one case this month, center staff helped three women who married out of the same village and then were denied benefits. Landesa senior attorney Li Ping personally visited the village and negotiated successfully on behalf of the women. Now they have legal control over their land.

From another village in the same county, Li spoke with farmers and collected evidence in order to prepare a class action against the party secretary of the village who illegally took back farmers' forestland rights and fraudulently transferred such rights to himself.  The case is now a top priority for the legal aid center.  Landesa will file a lawsuit on behalf of the 20 farmers to reclaim their forestland shortly.



Legacy of Land

Photo by Deborah Espinosa

Photo by Deborah Espinosa

Missed our Lens on the Land photography show at the ArtXchange Gallery in September 2010? Here is your second chance. Landesa senior attorney and photographer, Deborah Espinosa's images are now featured in the Brotman Galleria at the University of Washington School of Law.

Seed the Change

On behalf of Landesa's Board of Directors and staff, thank you for joining us at this year's Seed the Change Luncheon. We were joined by 680 people to help us raise more than $230,000, a record. All the funds will help Landesa continue our land rights research and programs. We truly appreciate all your support. 


Click here to watch Landesa's video about the impact of our work. From the Ground Up was featured at the luncheon and is a great tool to share with others to illustrate the transformative power of land rights.

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