Special Issue "Land, Land Use and Social Issues"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (29 February 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Frank Vanclay
Website
Guest Editor
Cultural Geography, Director Urban & Regional Studies Institute, University of Groningen, The Netherlands
Interests: social sustainability; endogenous regional development; rural communities; sense of place; place attachment; natural resource management; social aspects of climate change; social impact assessment; social impact management; project-induced displacement and resettlement; social license to operate; extractive industries and society; community engagement; public participation; corporate social responsibility; avoiding the resource curse; human rights impact assessment; business and human rights; Indigenous rights; free, prior and informed consent
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Constanza Parra
Website
Guest Editor
University of Leuven - KU Leuven, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Belgium
Interests: protected areas; commons; social innovation; sustainable development; governance of socio-ecological systems; disasters

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Land, land use, land ownership, land tenure and land rights are much contested in concept and in practice. In addition to notions of place attachment and sense of place, critical concerns such as social justice, environmental justice, environmental movements, social protest, Indigenous peoples, informal tenure, land grabbing, livelihoods, displacement and resettlement, resistance and resilience are among the many issues that spring to mind when ‘land’ is considered from a social perspective. Many development projects cause the displacement of people. While international standards (e.g. the International Finance Corporation Performance Standards) advocate the avoidance of resettlement, there will still be times when it necessary to resettle people if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved. Given the centrality of land to rural people’s lives, land-for-land has been the catchphrase intended to promote good development practice. However, land-for-land is difficult to implement, especially in terms of retaining the same or better quality land, and especially if community-based resettlement is intended. Restoring livelihoods in new locations can also be complex. Another significant land issue is the cumulative process of land acquisition, known as land grabbing, in which landscapes, production systems, and use of resources change. These changes can have profound social impacts for people rendered dispossessed by land grabbing. Land grabbing exacerbates issues of land tenure, especially in situations with informal tenure. Local people can be tricked into selling their land, or enticed or coerced to leave so that it voids their future claim to land rights. Into the future, international concerns about due diligence (as in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights), responsible sourcing, and human rights through the supply chain will mean that companies will need to be more responsible regarding how land is acquired. In some cases, restitution to original owners may be required. This Special Issue of Land seeks to include papers that address any of the social aspects associated with land, land use and land management. We seek papers from around the world that address conceptual issues or case studies revealing the importance of land, and/or that discuss problems that arise in relation to land grabbing or project land acquisition.

Prof. Dr. Frank Vanclay
Dr. Constanza Parra
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • land acquisition
  • displacement and resettlement
  • land grabbing
  • land for land
  • land rights
  • environmental justice
  • informal tenure
  • extractivism

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Social Capital in Community Organizing for Land Protection and Food Security
Land 2020, 9(3), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030069 - 28 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Since 2016, the Thai Government has pursued a twenty-year national economic growth policy, Thailand 4.0, promoting innovation and stimulating international investment through the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project. The EEC project involves significant land acquisition resulting in the need to relocate villagers with [...] Read more.
Since 2016, the Thai Government has pursued a twenty-year national economic growth policy, Thailand 4.0, promoting innovation and stimulating international investment through the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) project. The EEC project involves significant land acquisition resulting in the need to relocate villagers with potential impact on food security in a major food production area. This research explored the concerns of a local farming community regarding the potential loss of their farmland and means of livelihood under the EEC project using a case study in Ban Pho District of Chachoengsao (CCS) province. It described their resulting action to protect their farmland using community organizing. Data was collected through documents, observation and semi-structured interviews of key stakeholders. The results demonstrate the role of social capital in community organizing. We contend that high social capital stock is a necessary precursor to create conditions for community members to take steps to defend and protect their interests. This paper contributes to a deeper understanding of the role of social capital in community organizing in cases involving natural resource management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
The FPIC Principle Meets Land Struggles in Cambodia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea
Land 2020, 9(3), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030067 - 27 Feb 2020
Abstract
Social and environmental safeguards are now commonplace in policies and procedures that apply to certain kinds of foreign investment in developing countries. Prominent amongst these is the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), which is commonly tied to policies and procedures [...] Read more.
Social and environmental safeguards are now commonplace in policies and procedures that apply to certain kinds of foreign investment in developing countries. Prominent amongst these is the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC), which is commonly tied to policies and procedures relating to investments that have an impact on ‘indigenous peoples’. This paper treats international safeguards as a possible manifestation of what Karl Polanyi called the ‘double movement’ in the operation of a capitalist market economy. Our concern here is with the way that the FPIC principle has been applied in struggles over the alienation of land and associated natural resources claimed by indigenous peoples or customary landowners in three developing countries—Cambodia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Case studies of recent land struggles in these countries are used to illustrate the existence of a spectrum in which the application of the FPIC principle may contribute more or less to the defence of customary rights. On one hand, it may be little more than a kind of ‘performance’ that simply adds some extra value to a newly created commodity. On the other hand, it may sometimes enable local or indigenous communities and their allies in ‘civil society’ to mount an effective defence of their rights in opposition to the processes of alienation or commodification. The paper finds that all three countries have political regimes and national policy frameworks that are themselves resistant to the imposition of social and environmental safeguards by foreign investors or international financial institutions. However, they differ widely in the extent to which they make institutional space for the FPIC principle to become the site of a genuine double movement of the kind that Polanyi envisaged. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
Open AccessArticle
Challenges to Implementing Socially-Sustainable Community Development in Oil Palm and Forestry Operations in Indonesia
Land 2020, 9(3), 61; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030061 - 25 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Through the lenses of community development and social licence to operate, we consider the complex relationships between local communities and forest plantation and oil palm companies. We examine the practical challenges in implementing socially-sustainable community development (SSCD) by analyzing two corporate social investment [...] Read more.
Through the lenses of community development and social licence to operate, we consider the complex relationships between local communities and forest plantation and oil palm companies. We examine the practical challenges in implementing socially-sustainable community development (SSCD) by analyzing two corporate social investment community development projects located in West Kalimantan, Indonesia: Desa Makmur Peduli Api (integrated fire management) and Pertanian Ekologi Terpadu (ecological farming). Our study scrutinized: (i) What were the practice challenges faced by the companies in establishing SSCD?; Along with (ii) what should be done to improve how SSCD is undertaken, especially in Indonesia? We identified five challenges: (1) unresolved land conflict; (2) determining the right program; (3) building community capacity rather than providing irrelevant training; (4) a shortage of company field staff and government facilitators; and (5) managing community expectations. Better governance of SSCD will reduce conflict between affected communities and companies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Socially-Tolerated Practices in Environmental and Social Impact Assessment Reporting: Discourses, Displacement, and Impoverishment
Land 2020, 9(2), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020033 - 22 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Normative guidelines for addressing project-induced displacement and resettlement have been successful in coercing companies and practitioners to comply with international standards and local requirements. However, good practice has not always been effectively implemented, leading to reduced social wellbeing of people in local communities. [...] Read more.
Normative guidelines for addressing project-induced displacement and resettlement have been successful in coercing companies and practitioners to comply with international standards and local requirements. However, good practice has not always been effectively implemented, leading to reduced social wellbeing of people in local communities. We assess how the reciprocal relationships between institutional norms and practitioners’ situated perspectives about company-community interactions can improve social management practice. Drawing on Hajer and Versteeg’s method of environmental discourse analysis, discussions and storylines about a mining project in Mpumalanga in South Africa were assessed against contextualised discursive conventions in the mining industry. It was found that practitioners learn to manipulate legislative requirements, which ultimately perpetuates the impoverishment of project affected communities. The question is not whether or not practitioners understand the requirements of environmental and social management, but the extent to which such understandings are manipulated for corporate gain as opposed to social good. We consider practitioner rationalities about the purpose and function of environmental and social management, and how it is implemented. We suggest that practitioners and companies should construct positive aspirational identity perspectives about social management that would transcend from their current limited view (that achieving minimum compliance is sufficient) to aspiring to achieve better social development outcomes for all, especially the most disadvantaged. This requires a genuine commitment to obtaining and maintaining a social licence to operate, perspective transformation, a commitment to inclusiveness, and increased capacity for critical reflection. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Urban–Rural Construction Land Replacement for More Sustainable Land Use and Regional Development in China: Policies and Practices
Land 2019, 8(11), 171; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8110171 - 12 Nov 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
With the rapid development of urbanization and industrialization, land exploitation in China has caused a decrease of cultivated land, posing a threat to national food security. To achieve the goals of both economic development and cultivated land protection, China launched an urban–rural land [...] Read more.
With the rapid development of urbanization and industrialization, land exploitation in China has caused a decrease of cultivated land, posing a threat to national food security. To achieve the goals of both economic development and cultivated land protection, China launched an urban–rural land replacement measure supported by a new land use policy of “increasing vs. decreasing balance” of construction land between urban and rural areas in 2008. Setting China’s urban and rural land use policies in a historical context and urban–rural sustainable development, this paper discusses four practices in Jiangsu Province, Tianjin Municipality, Shandong Province, and Chongqing Municipality. These practices achieved success in impelling agricultural modernization development, improving rural infrastructure and living circumstances, releasing the potential of rural land resources, and increasing cultivated land and urban construction land in the past decade. However, in some practices, problems, and even some conflicts, exist in the protection of farmers’ rights and interests. These challenges are discussed in the context of implementation. In order to better implement urban–rural construction land replacement and achieve better results, the authors argue that farmers’ rights and interests must always be put first and their wishes should be respected more, a consolidated urban–rural land market and a better land market mechanism should be founded, the supply of public goods and services for villagers should be further improved, and supervision and evaluation mechanisms should be further strengthened. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
The Legal Boundaries of ‘Public Purpose’ in India and South Africa: A Comparative Assessment in Light of the Voluntary Guidelines
Land 2019, 8(10), 154; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8100154 - 17 Oct 2019
Abstract
The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) call for governments to clearly define the term ‘public purpose’ to allow for judicial review of the goals of expropriations of property. However, recent research indicates that national-level legal frameworks that govern expropriation [...] Read more.
The Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT) call for governments to clearly define the term ‘public purpose’ to allow for judicial review of the goals of expropriations of property. However, recent research indicates that national-level legal frameworks that govern expropriation decision-making not only vary greatly from country to country but also often fail to comply with the VGGT standards on expropriation. This creates the potential for unpredictable and, in some cases, arbitrary applications of expropriation law in practice. Focusing on legal norms and jurisprudence applicable to ‘public purpose’ decision-making in South Africa and India, this article provides a comparative analysis of these countries’ legal frameworks as means of ascertaining (1) the current legal boundaries to decisions on the expropriation’s goal; (2) whether these boundaries comply with the VGGTs; and (3) what these two countries can learn from one another in terms enacting legislation and regulations that comply with the VGGTs. To conduct this comparative analysis, we thoroughly examine constitutional provisions, relevant case law, legislation, regulations, and relevant secondary sources to highlight the current status of India’s and South Africa’s law on ‘public purpose’ and how they relate to the VGGTs. We conclude by distilling some key findings that can inform the decisions of expropriation lawmakers in both countries, especially in South Africa where a draft Expropriation Bill is currently being considered. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
Open AccessArticle
Improving the Socioeconomic Status of Rural Women Associated with Agricultural Land Acquisition: A Case Study in Huong Thuy Town, Thua Thien Hue Province, Vietnam
Land 2019, 8(10), 151; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8100151 - 14 Oct 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
Since the 2000s, agricultural land acquisition (ALA) for urbanization and industrialization has been quickly implemented in Vietnam, which has led to a huge socioeconomic transformation in rural areas. This paper applies the sustainable livelihoods framework to analyze how ALA has impacted the socioeconomic [...] Read more.
Since the 2000s, agricultural land acquisition (ALA) for urbanization and industrialization has been quickly implemented in Vietnam, which has led to a huge socioeconomic transformation in rural areas. This paper applies the sustainable livelihoods framework to analyze how ALA has impacted the socioeconomic status (SES) of rural women whose agricultural land was acquired. To get primary data, we surveyed 150 affected households, conducted three group discussions and interviewed nine key informants. The research findings reveal that ALA, when applied toward urbanization, has significantly improved the occupational status of rural women by creating non-farm job opportunities that have improved their income, socioeconomic knowledge and working skills. While their SES has been noticeably enhanced, these positive impacts are still limited in cases where ALA is applied toward industrial and energy development, since these purposes do not create many new jobs. Moreover, the unclear responsibility of stakeholders and inadequate livelihood rehabilitation programs of ALA projects have obstructed the opportunities of rural women. To improve the SES of rural women, we recommend that ALA policy initiate a flexible livelihoods support plan based on the purpose of ALA and the concrete responsibilities of stakeholders and investors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Participatory Rural Appraisal Approaches for Public Participation in EIA: Lessons from South Africa
Land 2019, 8(10), 150; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8100150 - 12 Oct 2019
Abstract
Public participation in environmental impact assessment (EIA) often falls short of the requirements of best practice in the move towards sustainable development, particularly for disadvantaged and marginalized communities. This paper explores the value of a participatory rural appraisal (PRA) approach for improved public [...] Read more.
Public participation in environmental impact assessment (EIA) often falls short of the requirements of best practice in the move towards sustainable development, particularly for disadvantaged and marginalized communities. This paper explores the value of a participatory rural appraisal (PRA) approach for improved public participation in a sample of EIA’s for photovoltaic projects in South Africa. PRA was conducted post facto making use of selected PRA tools. Findings show that a great deal more information was obtained by the PRA approach, confirming the perceived weakness of traditional PP for vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. It is concluded that a PRA approach has considerable potential for improving meaningful public participation, which should improve EIA, build capacity in those communities, and enhance livelihoods and sustainable resource use. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Planning for Democracy in Protected Rural Areas: Application of a Voting Method in a Spanish-Portuguese Reserve
Land 2019, 8(10), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8100145 - 01 Oct 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
The planning of protected rural areas is usually defined by institutional decision-makers without considering the preferences of the local communities that live on the land, which frequently leads to conflicts in land management. This paper proposes a voting method based on the Borda [...] Read more.
The planning of protected rural areas is usually defined by institutional decision-makers without considering the preferences of the local communities that live on the land, which frequently leads to conflicts in land management. This paper proposes a voting method based on the Borda count to rank the management goals of a protected rural area. The method was applied in a Spanish-Portuguese reserve called Iberian Plateau with the aim of collecting the preferences of institutional decision-makers (government and scientists) and rural landowners (farmers and businesspersons). Regarding the conservation and development objectives, the results show differences in spatial planning when only the preferences of institutional decision-makers are taken into consideration, as opposed to when the preferences of landowners are included within the analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Social Impacts of Land Acquisition for Oil and Gas Development in Uganda
Land 2019, 8(7), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8070109 - 08 Jul 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Uganda’s oil and gas sector has transitioned from the exploration phase to the development phase in preparation for oil production (the operations phase). The extraction, processing, and distribution of oil require a great deal of infrastructure, which demands considerable acquisition of land from [...] Read more.
Uganda’s oil and gas sector has transitioned from the exploration phase to the development phase in preparation for oil production (the operations phase). The extraction, processing, and distribution of oil require a great deal of infrastructure, which demands considerable acquisition of land from communities surrounding project sites. Here, we examine the social impacts of project land acquisition associated with oil production in the Albertine Graben region of Uganda. We specifically consider five major oil related projects that have or will displace people, and we discuss the consequences of this actual or future displacement on the lives and livelihoods of local people. The projects are: Tilenga; Kingfisher; the East African Crude Oil Pipeline; the Kabaale Industrial Park; and the Hoima–Kampala Petroleum Products Pipeline. Our findings reveal both positive and negative outcomes for local communities. People with qualifications have benefited or will benefit from the job opportunities arising from the projects and from the much-needed infrastructure (i.e., roads, health centres, airport) that has been or will be built. However, many people have been displaced, causing food insecurity, the disintegration of social and cultural cohesion, and reduced access to social services. The influx of immigrants has increased tensions because of increasing competition for jobs. Crime and social issues such as prostitution have also increased and are expected to increase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Conceptualizing Company Response to Community Protest: Principles to Achieve a Social License to Operate
Land 2019, 8(6), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8060101 - 20 Jun 2019
Cited by 11
Abstract
To gain a social license to operate and grow, companies should have effective community engagement activities, social impact assessment processes, environmental and social impact management procedures, and human rights-compatible grievance redress mechanisms in place. In this way, environmental impacts and social impacts would [...] Read more.
To gain a social license to operate and grow, companies should have effective community engagement activities, social impact assessment processes, environmental and social impact management procedures, and human rights-compatible grievance redress mechanisms in place. In this way, environmental impacts and social impacts would likely be identified and addressed before issues escalate and social risk amplifies. Companies also need to treat communities with respect and be mindful of local culture. Where these things are not done, there will be no social license to operate. Protests are mechanisms by which affected communities express their concerns and signal there is no social license. As argued in our previous work on conceptualizing social protests, protests are warning signs, as well as opportunities for companies to improve. Rather than let protest actions escalate, leading to violent confrontation and considerable cost and harm, companies should engage in meaningful dialogue with protesters. Unfortunately, company response is often inadequate or inappropriate. In this paper, we identify around 175 actions companies might take in relation to community protest, and we discuss how these actions variously have the potential to escalate or de-escalate conflict, depending on whether the company engages in appropriate and genuine interaction with protesters or if repressive measures are used. While effective engagement will likely de-escalate conflict, ignoring or repressing protests tends to provoke stronger reactions from groups seeking to have their concerns heard. When companies address community concerns early, their social license to operate is enhanced. We also outline the primary international standards companies are expected to comply with, and we identify the key environmental, social, and governance issues (ESG principles) that should be respected. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
Open AccessArticle
Can Traditional Authority Improve the Governance of Forestland and Sustainability? Case Study from the Congo (DRC)
Land 2019, 8(5), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8050074 - 26 Apr 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
With about 107 million hectares of moist forest, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a perfect paradox of a natural resources endowed country caught in repeated economic and socio-political crises. Democratic Republic of Congo possesses about 60% of the Congo basin’s forest [...] Read more.
With about 107 million hectares of moist forest, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a perfect paradox of a natural resources endowed country caught in repeated economic and socio-political crises. Democratic Republic of Congo possesses about 60% of the Congo basin’s forest on which the majority of its people rely for their survival. Even if the national forest land in the countryside is mainly exploited by local populations based on customary rights, they usually do not have land titles due to the fact that the state claims an exclusive ownership of all forest lands in the Congo basin including in DRC. The tragedy of “bad governance” of natural resources is often highlighted in the literature as one of the major drivers of poverty and conflicts in DRC. In the forest domain, several studies have demonstrated that state bureaucracies cannot convincingly improve the governance of forestland because of cronyism, institutional weaknesses, corruption and other vested interests that govern forest and land tenure systems in the country. There are however very few rigorous studies on the role of traditional leaders or chiefdoms in the governance of forests and land issues in the Congo basin. This research aimed at addressing this lack of knowledge by providing empirical evidence through the case study of Yawalo village, located around the Yangambi Biosphere Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo. From a methodological perspective, it used a mixed approach combining both qualitative (field observations, participatory mapping, interviews, focal group discussions, and desk research,) and quantitative (remote sensing and statistics) methods. The main findings of our research reveal that: (i) vested interests of traditional rulers in the DRC countryside are not always compatible with a sustainable management of forestland; and (ii) influential users of forestland resources at the local level take advantage of traditional leaders’ weaknesses—lack of autonomy and coercive means, erratic recognition of customary rights, and poor legitimacy—to impose illegal hunting and uncontrolled forest exploitation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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Open AccessArticle
Differentiations in Women’s Land Tenure Experiences: Implications for Women’s Land Access and Tenure Security in Sub-Saharan Africa
Land 2019, 8(2), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8020022 - 22 Jan 2019
Cited by 5
Abstract
Most literature on land tenure in sub-Saharan Africa has presented women as a homogenous group. This study uses evidence from Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe to show that women have differentiated problems, needs, and statuses in their quest for land access and tenure security. [...] Read more.
Most literature on land tenure in sub-Saharan Africa has presented women as a homogenous group. This study uses evidence from Ghana, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe to show that women have differentiated problems, needs, and statuses in their quest for land access and tenure security. It illustrates how women-to-women differences influence women’s access to land. By investigating differentiations in women’s land tenure in the three countries, the study identifies multiple and somewhat interlinked ways in which differentiations exist in women’s land tenure. It achieved some key outcomes. The findings include a matrix of factors that differentiate women’s land access and tenure security, a visualisation of women’s differentiation in land tenure showing possible modes for actions, and an adaptable approach for operationalising women’s differentiation in land tenure policies (among others). Using these as evidence, it argues that women are a highly differentiated gender group, and the only thing homogenous in the three cases is that women are heterogeneous in their land tenure experiences. It concludes that an emphasis on how the differentiation among women allows for significant insight to emerge into how they experience tenure access differently is essential in improving the tenure security of women. Finally, it makes policy recommendations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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