My Land, My Right: Putting land rights at the heart of the Pakistan floods reconstruction | Land Law | Leasehold Estate

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The mega floods of 2010–11 hit Pakistan hard, both economically and socially, and have had a massive impact on land and agriculture. The path to recovery and reconstruction is long and full of challenges, but it is also an opportunity to tackle crucial structural issues, such as crippling inequalities in people’s rights and access to land. Most people who live in the rural areas affected by the floods are landless. Lack of land ownership and insecure access to arable land are two of the major causes of rural poverty in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan should change how it approaches such issues to ensure comprehensive land rights for poor farmers, especially women. A comprehensive recovery and reconstruction plan that aims to ‘build back better’ must explicitly address land issues. Otherwise, millions of Pakistanis will remain trapped in deepening poverty, undermining the country’s recovery.
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  149 Oxfam Briefing Paper 2 June 2011 My land, my right Putting land rights at the heart of the Pakistan floods reconstruction  www.oxfam.org   Suhagan, a farmer with seven children, who can now earn money from growing crops after benefiting from a land distribution scheme in Sindh. Credit: Caroline Gluck/Oxfam The mega floods of 2010–11 hit Pakistan hard, both economically and socially, and have had a massive impact on land and agriculture. The path to recovery and reconstruction is long and full of challenges – but it is also an opportunity to tackle crucial structural issues such as crippling inequalities in people’s rights and access to land. Most people who live in the rural areas affected by the floods are landless. Lack of land ownership and insecure access to arable land are two of the major causes of rural poverty in Pakistan. The government of Pakistan should change how it approaches such issues to ensure comprehensive land rights for poor farmers, especially women. A comprehensive recovery and reconstruction plan that aims to ‘build back better’ must explicitly address land issues. Otherwise, millions of Pakistanis will remain trapped in deepening poverty, undermining the country’s recovery.  2 Map of floods  3 Executive summary In the aftermath of the 2010–11 floods, the path to recovery and reconstruction in Pakistan will be long and full of challenges. However, there is also an opportunity to tackle crucial structural issues such as crippling inequalities in people’s rights and access to land. A failure to do so would not only condemn millions of Pakistanis to continued and deepening poverty, it would also undermine the scope and sustainability of the country's recovery from this disaster and its ability to cope with the next. The mega floods of 2010–11 hit Pakistan hard, both economically and socially, and have had a massive impact on land and agriculture. Millions of poor people, mostly small farmers, lost their land and assets and have been displaced to camps or other places. Women have borne the brunt of the disaster and are particularly vulnerable. The catastrophe was made worse because most people who live in the rural areas affected by the floods are landless. Not only did they have to worry about restoring damaged fields and irrigation canals, but for many, their very return depended on the whim of their landlords. Lack of land ownership and insecure access to arable land are two of the major causes of rural poverty in Pakistan. For millions of poor rural people, owning land or having reliable access to land means survival and having the foundation to build a better standard of living. Land provides a livelihood and allows poor rural people access to entitlements such as government benefits as well as credit for agriculture and business. Secure possession of land for residential purposes is only possible by having formal land ownership documents. Securing land rights is critical if Pakistan is to overcome poverty and inequality: it can reduce poverty at both individual and household level and boost economic growth at national level. An emphasis on tackling land issues equitably in the post-floods recovery and reconstruction is therefore urgently needed. This paper explores the condition of land rights and secure access to land by poor women and men in flood-affected areas. It highlights crucial gaps in current recovery and reconstruction plans, which fail to address land issues affecting the poor and socially marginalized people. It also provides recommendations for the government of Pakistan, the international donor community, landlords, and civil society actors to enable them to address land inequality issues and reduce landlessness and poverty in the country. The government of Pakistan needs to change the way it approaches land issues to ensure comprehensive land rights for poor farmers, especially women, across the country. Current recovery and reconstruction plans by the Pakistani government and the international donor community, including the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) as well as the government of Pakistan’s Damage Needs Assessment (DNA) all make inadequate mention of land issues. There are no plans to conduct a comprehensive review of land issues and no clear strategy or  4 programmes that address land inequality issues for poor and landless women and men. The process of post-floods recovery and reconstruction is an opportunity for the government, international actors, national organizations, and the private sector to contribute to minimizing the deprivation and economic vulnerability of poor and marginalized Pakistanis. The government of Pakistan should show responsible leadership by urgently implementing nationally led, pro-poor reconstruction plans for promoting land equality for poor women and men, which will reduce poverty and suffering among the flood-affected population. Now is the time to make sure that policies and programmes related to land distribution and ownership are pro-poor and target the most marginalized groups such as women and religious minorities. Backed by the international donor community, and with appropriate participation by civil society organizations, the Pakistani government should implement a package of measures that strengthens the enforcement of tenancy rights and promotes more equitable ownership of land, especially for socially marginalized people such as women and religious minorities. The government of Pakistan should: ã   immediately conduct a comprehensive review of land issues in the flood-affected areas to find out the challenges, needs, and vulnerabilities of the landless and land insecure population; ã   at all levels (both federal and provincial) explicitly incorporate land issues and land inequality in recovery and reconstruction plans, with dedicated resources; ã   provide land to landless women and men for homesteads in economically viable locations, and if necessary acquire land for this purpose; ã   increase women’s ownership of land by providing land in women’s names through the continuation and expansion of land distribution programmes such as the government of Sindh’s Land Distribution Programme for Landless Women Haris and the Punjab’s Jinnah Abadi Scheme; ã   computerize all land records so there is less loss of land revenue records and a more transparent system of recording land ownership. The WB and ADB should: ã   support the government of Pakistan in incorporating land issues and addressing land inequality in recovery and reconstruction plans by providing both financial and technical resources; ã   modify their own policies and programmes to focus more on the landless and vulnerable rather than wealthy landowners;
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