Decentralization, Pro-Poor Land Policies, and Democratic Governance

June 2008
Ruth Meinzen-Dick, Monica Di Gregorio and Stephan Dohrn (CAPRi Working Paper 80)

Land tenure reform policy has been affected by many different types of decentralization, but the literature has rarely explicitly addressed the implications of this. The paper provides a review of how the issues of decentralization are linked to land tenure reform in theory and practice. Begins with clarifying some key terms, then looks at contending perspectives on decentralization and how these relate to the UNDP’s pillars of democratic governance. Reviews the different types of land tenure reform in terms of the role of centralized and decentralized institutions, illustrating strengths and weaknesses, gaps and challenges with experience from a range of developing countries. Turns to conclusions and policy recommendations, considering how decentralized approaches to land tenure reform can contribute to goals such as gender equity, social cohesion, human rights, and the identity of indigenous peoples.
Date: June 2008