A Better World - Volume 4

[ ] 11 L ife on L and due to overgrazing that causes surface erosion. However, growing evidence from national studies, including a study conducted in 2016 in the Otjozondjupa Region of Namibia based on satellite imagery, disputes the view that communal or group tenure rights are the cause of a higher degree of land degradation. According to a survey featuring the outcomes of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-supported projects on sustainable natural resource management in Lesotho and Tajikistan; conflict management in Tanzania and Chad; and institutional strengthening in Senegal and Mongolia 2 ; the improvement of land governance systems of a range of lands results in improved governance of pasture and water resources, the participation of women in decision making, increased land productivity, and strength- ened resilience to land degradation. Another study 3 has confirmed that improving tenure security leads to a decrease in disputes, increased investment in tree planting and soil conservation, and increased agricultural productivity, thus contributing significantly to poverty alleviation. Gender dynamics in tenure rights and land degradation Evidence shows that in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia where the majority of people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, the average family farms are small, and getting smaller, with 75 per cent being under one hectare in low and middle-income countries 4 . Women constitute the majority of food producers and labourers in the agriculture sector, yet they have weaker land rights than men. Culture and tradi- tions have often hindered women’s access and control over land, with some cultures prohibiting women from planting trees. When individualization of land takes place, women are often excluded from decision making and relegated to being the recipient of such projects. Negotiation for compen- sation and other associated benefits is often done by men who are the perceived owners of land. Inadequate and insecure tenure rights increase vulnerability to land-based conflicts between local communities and investors, and to gender-based violence resulting from intra-household power relations that often discriminate against women’s land rights. When competing land users fight for control over land they pose a risk of causing land degradation. Women are ‘carers of nature’ and are believed to hold greater respect for land conservation practices that are critical for soil conservation. Achieving LDN through fit-for-purpose and gender- responsive land tools The Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) has, since its estab- lishment, strived to improve tenure security for all by developing pro-poor, fit-for-purpose and gender-responsive tools that strengthen land governance policies and prac- tices. Over 18 land tools have been developed, tested and implemented including the Gender Evaluation Criteria and Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM), an open-source soft- ware application that applies participatory land recordation approaches in order to document communal tenure rights in urban and rural communities. The STDM has been success- fully implemented in several countries in collaboration with GLTN partners including the Chamuka Chiefdom in Zambia, Indonesia — Safe Cities — preventing violence at a neighbourhood level Image: UN Women/Ryan Brown