There is a growing body of evidence that suggests stronger land tenure security has a positive impact on important development outcomes, such as increased agricultural investment, women’s empowerment, agricultural productivity, enhanced functioning of rental markets, and access to credit. While the initial empirical evidence is encouraging, important knowledge gaps remain. Compared with the positive economic and food security gains seen from land tenure formalization programs in Asia and Latin America, results from similar programs in Africa have been mixed. There is also little evidence on the impact of alternative approaches to strengthening tenure, such as supporting customary land governance institutions or communal land certification, as opposed to more common efforts focused on land titling and the formalization of individual property rights.
In this context, USAID is currently supporting or has recently concluded six rigorous impact evaluations in Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Zambia, and a rigorous performance evaluation in Liberia, to test development questions relevant to eliminating extreme poverty, enhancing food security, improving natural resource management, empowering women, improving climate change resilience, mitigating conflict, and promoting democratic governance and resilience.