Land Use & Access

Access to land is broadly defined as the processes by which people, individually or collectively, are able to use land, whether on a temporary or permanent basis.1 Issues of land use, access, and rights intersect with homelessness in many ways, sometimes as an immediate cause and sometimes a contributing factor at a broader, systemic level. These issues are at play most obviously, but not exclusively, in rural and developing contexts, where those who depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods, but have limited access to land and few alternative ways of making an income, may face pressure to migrate to urban areas or find themselves without income. 

The issues of access and rights to, as well as use of, land are intertwined but distinct. While land rights do play a part in determining access, so do social relationships and customs; as land becomes scarcer and more valuable, those with weak or unacknowledged rights to it tend to be pushed out, especially the poor, those in peri-urban areas, indigenous people, women and those in areas of conflict. Security of tenure and access therefore is linked to lower incidences of poverty, conflict prevention, lower levels of migration to urban centers, greater agricultural productivity and food security, economic growth in rural areas, increased family incomes and more-sustainable land use.2 Inversely, loss of the same can result in violent conflict, homelessness, migration, and squatting.

Learn more about land use & access in:

Zimbabwe, New Zealand, India, Canada, Nigeria, Australia, Tanzania, Bangladesh, South Africa, Netherlands