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Land Reform, Land Tenure and Poverty

Land Reform, Land Tenure and Poverty

Enhanced understandings of the multiple linkages between land reform, land tenure and land use and between land rights, ownership and poverty are integral to more equitable and sustainable policy in the future. Land reform is an especially pertinent topic in post-socialist transition countries and in the aftermath of decollectivisation, wherein the dissolution of formerly collectivised agricultural sectors has precipitated profound changes in the land-livelihoods nexus.

Since the decollectivisation of Mongolia's herding sector in the early 1990s pastureland has been managed through de facto common property arrangements under the de jure ownership of a weakened state. In recent years numerous national and particularly international interventions have become engaged in issues of pasture rights and sustainable livelihoods among the herding population. Western developmental concerns with land tenure, livelihoods and natural resource management have increasingly converged around issues of co-management of land and formal devolution of land rights to herders' groups. However, effective tenure reform through devolution of land rights and co-management is especially challenging in conditions wherein social and spatial boundaries are frequently ill defined and seasonally variable, and in the context of multiple and potentially conflicting goals.

This ongoing research project builds on earlier work undertaken for Dr Upton's doctoral thesis to explore and analyse the (differentiated) effects of group or community land titling on institutions, land use and livelihoods among herders. The implications of tenure reform for poverty alleviation, resource rights and livelihoods are of particular concern and will form the focus of further empirical work planned for spring and summer 2006.

Publications and Conference papers

  • 'Facing the Future: Mongolian Pastoralism in the Age of the Market'. Central Eurasian Studies Society 6th Annual Conference, September 2005.
  • 'Power, Poverty and Pastoralism: Land Reform in Mongolia's 'Age of the Market', Institute of Development Studies 'Land Inequality and Poverty' Seminar Series, May 2005.


  • 'Collective Action, Cooperation and Group Formation: Developmental Trajectories in Post-Socialist Mongolia'. Submitted to Human Ecology, 2006.
  • 'Land Rights, Land Reform and Livelihoods in Post Socialist Mongolia'. Invited paper for research workshop in Berlin, May 2006, to be submitted as part of special edition of World Development on 'Land Reform, Land Tenure and Land Use: Assessing the Linkages', 2006.