Access to land is commonly cited as one of the chief constraints to young people’s ability to be productive participants in the agri-food system. Youth access to land is governed by both law and custom. Legal statutes often do not protect land rights for youth and provide for a system of inheritance that makes it difficult for some youth, especially young women, to obtain land (for example by guaranteeing that the oldest boy will inherit land). This is often accompanied by laws that dictate that land cannot be further sub-divided into smaller plots, thereby denying ownership not only to females but also to younger males. Custom, which is the predominant determinant of land rights in rural areas, also represents an important barrier to accessing land for youth, who lack political power in such a system. Thus, an understanding of youth segmentation becomes an important determinant of which youth win and which do not under land tenure rules and norms.

Emerging case studies are highlighting successful approaches to increasing youth access to land. Promising youth and land interventions have strengthened youth organizations and participation in land policymaking processes, supported education and awareness-raising activities for youth to know their land rights, and strengthened youth access to legal services to recognize and defend their land rights. To date, however, there is limited evidence on the extent to which these interventions increase youth landholdings, and little to no evidence on the impact of these interventions on outcomes related to increased incomes, employment, or productivity. More research is needed in this area.

How Responsive is Your Land Programme to the Needs of Youth? Guidebook on the GLTN Youth and Land Responsiveness Criteria

This publication is a practical guide to using the Youth and Land Responsiveness Criteria, a tool for incorporating youth perspectives into land matters at both institutional and programme levels, through a participatory process. It provides a short set of guiding questions and assessment practices, as well as a summary of the key land issues affecting youth populations.

The Effect of Land Inheritance on Youth Employment and Migration Decisions: Evidence from Rural Ethiopia

How does the amount of land youth expect to inherit affect their migration and employment decisions? This paper explores this question in the context of rural Ethiopia using panel data from 2010 and 2014. The research finds that larger expected land inheritances significantly lower the likelihood of long-distance permanent migration and of permanent migration to urban areas during this time. Inheriting more land is also associated with a significantly higher likelihood of employment in agriculture and a lower likelihood of employment in non-agricultural sectors.  The research also shows that migration or non-agricultural employment is a last resort after exhausting all means of access to land. Land inheritance plays a pronounced role in predicting rural-to-urban permanent migration and nonagricultural-sector employment in areas with less vibrant land markets and in relatively remote areas (those far from major urban centers). Overall, the results suggest that inheritance strongly influences the spatial location and strategic employment decisions of youth.

What Land Means to Youth

This policy paper summarizes the key reasons land is important to youth, and why land issues are not “adult only” issues.

Lessons Learned: Youth and Land Tenure

This brief note explains the issues related to youth and land tenure and how they have been addressed by IFAD programs.

Perceptions of Tenure Security

This paper examines variation in perceptions of tenure security and satisfaction with customary land governance across rural communities in four African countries. The objectives of the paper are threefold. First, using baseline data from four USAID-funded impact evaluations, the paper describes pre-treatment levels of resource tenure and property rights in Ethiopia, Guinea, Liberia, and Zambia. Second, the paper examines community satisfaction with land governance, including assessments of leadership accountability and transparency in land-related decision-making. Third, the paper provides a comparative analysis of subgroup differences within and across countries. The particular subgroups of interest for the analysis include female-headed households, youth, and resource-constrained families.