Free State farmers’ historic land reform plan to lift workers from generational poverty

An historic meeting took place at Weiveld Boerevereniging, Parys, on Friday 17 October 2014, when twenty four farmers agreed to pay R750,000 to a land reform project, that will assist their employees to become homeowners for the first time and see 406 houses converted to freehold. The ‘Khaya Lam’ land reform project has the backing of Free State Premier Ace Magashule and the support of all political parties in Ngwathe. Driven by the Free Market Foundation (FMF) and initiated and led by Parys farmer and entrepreneur Perry Feldman, this project means that hundreds of poor and deprived families and individuals will get their first step towards true economic freedom and economic prosperity. Educating the new homeowners on how to manage their new asset is a vital part of the plan. Land reform is a highly emotive and increasingly political divisive issue, yet these Free State farmers, without political motive or public fanfare, are quietly helping local black citizens to get access to freehold title of the homes they currently occupy under Apartheid era regulations. This is a first in South Africa and stands as a prime example of what can be achieved if all parties involved are committed to the principle and ideal of full title for homeowners. Khaya Lam is a tangible and practical example of real ownership restoration in action. It is a blueprint which can be readily taken up and adopted throughout the country where poor families live in generational poverty, never having the means to access credit, finance and opportunities. A title deed is a profound game changer for millions of this country’s poorest citizens: it is a tangible asset against which they can borrow money, earn rental income and begin to change their family’s socioeconomic circumstances. It is a simple but profoundly effective plan. Feldman …

Brazil: Time For a Property Rights Revolution

During the Language of Liberty Institute’s Liberty Seminars in the south of Brazil last May, the attendees were treated to a talk about freedom and human prosperity. Using the Economic Freedom of the World report CATO’s Latin America expert Juan Carlos Hidalgo made a convincing case for (economic) freedom as a prerequisite for human progress. One of the points he made about underdeveloped countries relates to how poor protection of property rights stifles economic growth. In Brazil this lack of recognition of property rights is most pronounced in the infamous favelas. In the years and months leading up to the World Cup the evictions generated some press, but now that the international spotlight has shifted elsewhere it is business as usual. While major sporting events in third world countries have become somewhat notorious for leading to these practices, they certainly are not a requirement. One state over from Rio de Janeiro is Minas Gerais, epicenter of Brazilian coffee and milk production. Its capital and largest city Belo Horizonte boasts the third largest metropolitan area in the country after Rio and São Paulo and is a major financial hub in South America. Consequently it has attracted swaths of lower-class jobseekers who, lacking the financial resources necessary to buy a home in the city, opted to build their own communities on the outskirts of town. Now, local authorities are threatening to forcibly evict the 8,000 families who have taken up residence there. Leaflets spread over the region announced military police would – absent a court decision – follow their orders to repossess the land “in accordance with the constitution and the fundamental principles of human rights”. Residents of the three communities, however, have unanimously decided to stay in their homes after the state government pulled the plug on negotiations with them. The …

33,000 Cheers for Liberty in South Africa!

One hundred years after the 1913 Native Land Act was passed in South Africa, the first fully tradable title deeds were released to black home owners in the Ngwathe municipality in the Free State province. Initiated in 2010, the Free Market Foundation’s (FMF) Khaya Lam (my house) project serves to convert land currently held under a complex variety of restrictive tenures and titles to unambiguous, freely tradable ownership. Secure property rights represent one of the most important requirements for the protection of both economic freedom and civil liberties. The Ngwathe municipality prides itself on the extent to which it has implemented land transformation for black South Africans. Virtually all black-occupied land has been properly surveyed, included in town planning schemes, proclaimed, and registered in the deeds registry. The objective of the ambitious but achievable project is to have all lawfully held plots in South Africa upgraded to unambiguous, tradable and mortgageable ownership at no cost to the lawful residents In consultation with the FMF, the Ngwathe municipality has resolved to become the first urban area in South Africa where all land is privately held under full freehold title on the basis of complete equality between whites and blacks. The project is truly historic and has the potential to be the first ever large-scale substantive project to undo the land disempowerment of apartheid that is still endured by millions of South Africans. It will set a precedent for reform of its kind to continue in South Africa, in other developing countries, and perhaps even in developed countries. Most of all, it will unlock the economic potential of thousands of householders, opening the door for large-scale economic growth and liberating millions of individuals in the process. Hernando de Soto, said in his internationally best-selling book, The Mystery of Capital, that throughout the …

India Property Rights Project: Empowering Hundreds of Thousands of Farmers

A property rights revolution is taking root in Gujarat, India, that is spreading across rural India, securing land title for hundreds of thousands of farmers. The evidence of success is so strong that this movement is expected to spread to 900 million plots of land in India and millions more across Asia, Africa, and Latin America. [button url=”#donate” style=”blue” size=”medium”]Make a donation now![/button] Hernando de Soto has called international attention to the lack of property rights in developing nations, resulting in the single greatest deterrent to economic development. But recognizing this isn’t enough. “De Soto’s approach to making change has had limited success so far,” remarks Barun Mitra, President of the Liberty Institute in New Delhi. “De Soto has written books,” says Mitra, “spoken at lofty forums, advised heads of state, suggested ways of changing the law to recognize the property rights of the millions of poor. But this approach has invariably run into opposition by powerful sections of society who have so far benefited from the prevailing lack of clear titles.” Frustrated by the lack of impact from academic conferences, Barun has decided that a real and practical demonstration of establishing property title among the vast population of rural farmers is the only way to prove the value of these ideas. Such proof will not only win over and empower the rural poor, but will captivate the interests of social and political leaders across the ideological spectrum. BUILDING THE FOUNDATION On a Sunday morning in January 2014, three hundred farmers came from miles around Sagai village in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Most of them left their homes at 6:30 AM walking, riding busses, and sharing rides on jeeps to gather in time for the noon meeting of the Action Research in Community Health & Development (ARCH) center …

Sep 21-22 Workshop on Forest Rights Act — Jamshedpur, Jharkhand

Workshop on Forest Rights Act Strengthening the Gram Sabha www.RighttoProperty.org 21-22 September2013 Patmada , East Singhbhum, Jharkhand Organised by ARCH Vahini & Liberty Institute with the support of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom 21 September 2013 • 10 am -12.30 pm: Field visit and demonstration of use of GPS at Sootriuli Dangar village, near Jamshedpur • 3 pm – 4 pm: Introduction and demonstration of www.RighttoProperty.org • 4 pm – 5 pm: Essentials of FRA, and the challenges • 6 pm – 8pm: Sharing of Experience regarding implementation of FRA 22 September 2013 • 9.30 am- 12 noon: Role of Gram Sabha in FRA • 2 pm – 4 pm: Strengthening the Gram Sabha • 4 pm – 5 pm: Conclusion Contact details: Coordinator: Arvind Anjum, Jamshedpur Mobile: +91-94311 13667 Email: arvindanjum5@gmail.com ARCH Vahini, Baroda Email: m_ambrish@hotmail.com Website: www.archgujarat.org Liberty Institute, New Delhi Email: info@righttoproperty.org , barun@libertyinstitute.org.in, Tel: +91-11-28031309 Websites: www.InDefenceofLiberty.org | www.EmpoweringIndia.org | www.RighttoProperty.org

Sep 16-17 Gaya, Bihar – Workshop on Land Rights under the Forest Rights Act

Property Rights For the Poor and the Forest Right Act 16 & 17 September, 2013 at Jeevan Sangham, Bodhgaya, Bihar Workshop organised by ARCH Vahini, Gujarat; Janmukti Vimarsh, Bihar & Liberty Institute, New Delhi with the support of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom Tentative Program: 16 September 2013 10.30 – 11.30 am: Inaugural Session Welcome by C. A. Priyadarshi & Banarsi Alam Inaugural Comments by Barun Mitra & Trupti Parekh 11.45 am – 2.00 pm: Session I Land Rights and Property Rights (What is the Meaning) for the Poor 2 pm to 3 pm: Lunch 4 pm to 6.30pm: Session II Land Rights and Property Rights to the poor: Understanding the issues and future course of action Concluding Remarks by Ambrish Mehta 7 pm – 9pm: Session III Cultural Programme by Banarsi & Team 17 September 2013 9.00am to 12 noon: Session IV Forest Right Act: The challenges and way ahead Presentations by A. Mehta, Manoj Kumar Babulal, Albela, KailashBharti, and Trupti Mehta Round Table Discussion 1 pm – 2 pm: Lunch 2.00 pm – 5.00 pm: Session V Demonstration of technique: Claim process of the forest right (Venue village Somia-Kevalia). Solidarity address: the village representatives share their experiences Vote of thanks: Kailash Bharti, President, Mazdoor Kisan samiti Contact Persons: Janmukti Vimarsh: Priyadarshi Ashok 09431077343, Ms. Poonam 09334269794, Kailash Bharti 09939376968, Jeevan Sangham 09431051659 ARCH Vahini, Baroda Email: m_ambrish@hotmail.com Website: www.archgujarat.org Liberty Institute, New Delhi Email: info@righttoproperty.org , barun@libertyinstitute.org.in, Tel: +91-11-28031309 Websites: www.InDefenceofLiberty.org | www.EmpoweringIndia.org | www.RighttoProperty.org

Aug 24-25 Sheopur, Madhya Pradesh – Workshop on Land Rights under the Forest Rights Act

Event Details Location: Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh Venue: Eco-Centre of the Forest Department Date: Aug 24-25 Attendees: Roughly 70; district- and block-level officials, field staff of the forest dept., village representatives from panchayat We have just held a very successful workshop on the Forest Rights Act (FRA) in the Sheopur district of Madhya Pradesh. Sheopur is about 400 km south west of Delhi, on the border of Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The Sheopur district was created in 1999, by separating it from the Morena district. In 2006, Sheopur was among the 250 most backward districts in India. The district covers about 6,600 sq km, and over 60% of the land area is classified as forest. The district contains the Kuno Wildlife Sanctuary, with a total area of 345 sq km, of which about 31 sq km is revenue land. The district has some of the poorest communities in the country including a large tribal population. It is home to the Sahariya tribe, which is classified as a Primitive Tribal Group and is one of the most backward tribal groups in India. The 2011 Census puts the population at 687,000, and 84% of the people live in the 587 villages. The tribal population is estimated at 140,000, about 21% of the total, and 98% of whom belong to the Sahariya tribe. On Aug 24, 2013 we visited one such hamlet, Hanumankheda, barely 10 km from the district headquarter of Sheopur. For at least a couple of kilometres around this area, there was hardly a tree standing, let alone any trace of forest. The soil was rocky, and land was marginal with low productivity, despite its proximity to an irrigation canal. Cattle grazing is one of the key economic activities, which requires pasture land. Another striking feature of the area was …