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Land: an exit route out of poverty

India is in many ways a wealthy country. Yet the majority of its wealth lies in the pockets of just a few families and 400 million of its people remain entrenched in bitter poverty. India is now home to more malnourished children than the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. 

Watch our video below to see what difference winning rights to their land has made for one village, Bajarangpura. 

Land rights video, click on the image to view video

Video: how land can help lift people out of poverty

To play this video, simply click anywhere on this image and the video will appear in a pop up.


A fair share

So what isn’t working? Christian Aid and its partners believe that ensuring a fairer share of India’s land and resources for marginalised groups such as adivasis and dalits is imperative to ensure better opportunities for hundreds of millions of India’s poor.

‘In a country where 90-95 per cent of people are self-supported, there is no other way than giving rights over livelihoods resources to the people, land being one of the major ones’ Ekta Parishad’s President, Rajagopal, told us.

In India today, millions are at threat of being forced off their land due to schemes such as mining, wildlife sanctuaries, industrial development and nuclear power. Many of these are purported to have the potential to bring benefits to local communities such as electricity, better infrastructure including roads, and jobs.


  • Land is what we need to feed our children. Kalawati Bai

The reality

But the reality is that a growing number of people are being displaced, often being paid minimal compensation to move from their homes and the only livelihoods they know. Increasing often, communities are being moved by force to ensure planned projects go ahead.

India’s progressive constitution includes pro-poor policies and laws that protect the rights of marginalised groups such as adivasis – India’s indigenous people and their descendants – and dalits, who comprise the majority of the landless poor.

Urgent action is needed

But many of these communities are unaware of their rights and are denied the option by local officials to grow food on the land they’ve lived on for decades, as well as access to forest areas and resources to sustain them.

‘If we wait too long there will be nothing left for the poor people’ said Rajagopal on the urgency of bringing the land issue to the attention of the national government and demanding the need for land re-distribution and pro-poor legal reform be given the attention it deserves.
He stressed: ‘No charity, no amount of other development activity is going to remove poverty from the earth unless people have control over land and livelihood resources’.

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