“Women need to know we also have rights to our property deeds.”

Q&A with landowner and Tumaco neighbor, Nancy Lucrecia Valencia

Nancy Valencia, famous in Tumaco for her delicious sancocho

Nancy Lucrecia Valencia says she has an “irresistible personality.” She arrived in Tumaco 25 years ago, where she lives in the Tres Cruces neighborhood. She has always felt like family of the many children in her neighborhood because she used to cook for them in a nearby school. Today she has a small restaurant in her home, which became famous when she cooked sancocho for Colombia’s President. She is the proud owner of her home, but she never obtained a land title that shows her as the property’s owner. Last year, Nancy and more than 100 of her neighbors in Tumaco received registered property titles for their homes. The ceremony was led by the mayor, and the titles were made possible thanks to USAID’s support and the work of Tumaco’s Municipal Land Office (MLO). In this interview, Nancy talks about her life and the process to get her long awaited land title.

Why hadn’t you gone and processed your property title before?

Because people told me that it costs a lot of money and a lot of work, one thing and the other. But having a land office in Tumaco is important, because people don’t have to go looking for information in different places. You go, they answer your questions and get things done the way they should be done. Now with my title, I feel like I am at another stage in life.

What impact does owning your home have on your life?

It gives me great satisfaction because I went through a lot of inconveniences paying rent. This is very positive for me. Sometimes we get this idea that people are humiliating us, and we don’t understand that we can also participate and have the deed to our home if we want to.






Many of Tumaco’s neighborhoods are located in tidal areas and cannot be titled by Tumaco’s Municipal Land Office.

How did you learn that the municipality was helping citizens obtain their property titles?

I found out through a neighbor that asked me if I already had my property’s deed. She explained that through the mayor’s office they were processing property titles for free. I went to the Municipal Land Office in the Ciudadela neighborhood. There they gave me all the information about the process, about what I had to do and the documents I needed.

How was your experience with the Municipal Land Office?

I knew I met all the requirements to get my title. The land office provided a good service at the office, and today I couldn’t be happier. Thanks to Tumaco’s Land Office, I have the title to my home and property!

Secure land rights for women are a crucial part of a gender responsive strategy to strengthen land tenure, and can have an outstanding impact on promoting gender equality and protecting one’s patrimony. When women have access to land and property, studies show they are more likely to earn higher incomes, enjoy increased decision-making power, and feel more protected in marital conflicts.

What would you say to the women who want to formalize their parcels but do not know how?

I invite them from the bottom of my heart and soul to be strong women that we are and to go to the Tumaco Municipal Land Office. That the women who have been through these horrible situations, always feeling crushed, need to know that we too can receive many benefits. Even when the men are the ones who work, we also have rights because we are also part of the home.

Land Rights are Women’s Rights

In Tumaco, the USAID Land for Prosperity Activity works closely with the municipal government to streamline gender equality and social inclusion in local land policies and activities. The USAID-supported Municipal Land Office developed an articulated gender and land titling strategy to target women-headed households in urban settings. Every month, small teams of land experts visit neighborhoods around Tumaco to explain the benefits of land titling and the rights of the women who live there.

USAID-supported municipal land offices in Colombia have delivered approximately 800 land titles since 2020. Over 600 land titles in the name of women-headed households or joint titles have been delivered to Colombian women.


© 2022 Land for Prosperity

Cross posted from Land for Prosperity Exposure site