Formalizing Land Rights in Madagascar…. gender effects

I am reading an excellent article by Marit Widman in Feminist Economics on land tenure reforms in the 2000s in Madagascar. Well-written, informative and to the point. A case study of one province with a reasonably large sample confirms every observational study of land tenure reform: the reforms are almost always extremely favorable (however well-intentioned) to men, and do very little to strengthen (if not weaken) women’s access to land.  In the province chosen for study, even though joint title was a major plank of the reform, very few household registered plots of land under joint title. Instead they were almost all registered in the name of the husband.  Thus, although the reform in principle improved the ability of women to secure their joint conjugal property, in practice it seems to have had the reverse effect.

The follower of economic change in Burkina Faso in me wonders whether it was coincidence (induced innovation!) that led Madagascar and Burkina Faso to adopt basically the exact same reforms to land tenure in the mid-2000s.  Not surprising that the Millennium Challenge Corporation funded both implementation programs.  The more interesting question is why the MCC, of all the possible programs to pursue, would have consistently selected for this kind of program (ok encouraged because after all the MCC is all about a rhetoric of local ownership of policy yeah right).  Someday a development sociologist has to do the case study of what went on at MCC… who woke up one morning and decided this is what they wanted to support.  I bet nurses training colleges are not a component of any MCC packages…hey the beauty of Google is that I’m wrong… Lesotho did fund nurses training….

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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