People We Serve

A majority of the population of developing nations lack formal recognition of their land rights, particularly where property ownership interests are based on customary forms of tenure and/or undocumented, oral agreements. This is especially true for the poor, women, smallholder farmers and other underrepresented groups who may lack the knowledge, resources, time and funds required to navigate the complicated and costly government land registration process. MEDEEM targets its services to these most vulnerable groups focusing on women, smallholder farmers, and the economically disadvantaged to promote more equitable access to the land tenure process.

Land rights exist along a continuum – ranging from no rights to full vested, documented and recognized legal title. The plurality of systems and ministries regulating land in many developing nations is complex and often results in overlapping interests in the land which can present difficulty, particularly for the most vulnerable groups to formalize their land rights, even when those rights are guaranteed under the law. These different layers of land rights, such as; ownership, lease, customary and cooperative ownership (including fractional ownership rights divided with shares in farming leases, cooperatives, sharecrop agreements and others) can be simultaneously exercised by various persons, each realizing value from his or her particular interest in the land. MEDEEM’s ParcelCert process seeks to unlock this value by linking geography, at the parcel level, with documented legal attributes to help allow these interests to be formally recognized – by others, by the commercial marketplace, and by the government.

Women – In most of the developing world, gender disparities exist with respect to access to and control of productive assets such as land. Currently, it is estimated that women own less than 5 percent of the world’s formally titled land. Under these conditions studies have shown that women experience greater poverty, work longer hours, are less literate and have access to fewer resources thereby perpetuating the feminization of poverty. Women’s low participation in the land titling process is often linked with their position in society, and lack of political empowerment. However, even in cases where the law and land policies have provided the basis for women’s right to own land, there is a huge gap between the commitment at the policy level and practical implementation. MEDEEM seeks to address gender equity in the formalization of land rights by providing access, affordability and education to women. MEDEEM’s process empowers women by bringing the process directly to them through a trusted microfinance lender or our trained ParcelCert officers, many of whom are also women. MEDEEM also provides women (and all its clients) consumer awareness and asset management training so that women gain knowledge of their legal rights and responsibilities with regard to land assets.

Smallholder Farmers – Farmers who lack secure land tenure and/or a specific description of the size and dimensions of their land, are hampered in making knowledgeable investments in and decisions about the utilization of their land. Farmers who lack secure tenure also have far less incentive to make appropriate input investments for long term crops, such as cocoa, resulting in poor production optimization. Insecurity of tenure and lack of access to land have been identified worldwide as major factors in creating food insecurity and sustaining poverty. MEDEEM focuses its efforts in formalizing land rights for smallholder farmers by bringing its services directly to them, at the village level, and by working with established farming cooperatives.

Economically Disadvantaged – Overburdened government land registries and inefficient processes, coupled with prohibitive survey costs and registration fees, make the formal land titling process unaffordable and inaccessible to the poor and underrepresented. MEDEEM has tailored its proactive and sustainable, process-driven solutions to address these key constraints to land registration by providing the economically disadvantaged with a simplified and affordable method to document their existing and rightful land tenure and help them make those important steps towards acquiring formal government title. In addition, consumer awareness and asset management training is provided free of charge so that the poor are given the knowledge to understand the process, to avoid predatory practices and to become aware of their rights and responsibilities with regard to land assets.

People We Serve