October 5, 2015

Guest Commentary – Land Matters for Food and Nutrition Security

By Marilyn Shapley, InterAction

The House Hunger Caucus, in collaboration with InterAction and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, hosted the third event in an international food and nutrition security briefing series, “What’s Food Got to Do with It?,” on Monday, September 28, 2015 with a panel discussion entitled, “A Field of One’s Own: Land Rights as a Driver of Productivity and Improved Nutrition.”

The panel explored the critical links between land rights, poverty reduction, and economic advancement. Karol Boudreaux, Land Tenure and Resource Rights Practice Lead at the Cloudburst Group, moderated the briefing. Panelists included Stephanie Burgos with Oxfam America, Jolyne Sanjak of the Land Alliance, and Gregory Myers from the World Bank Group.

In developing countries, overall economic growth depends on performance in agriculture, and panelists highlighted how critical securing land tenure is to improving food and nutrition security and agriculture development in communities. Studies continue to show that securing smallholder producers’ and communities’ land rights correlates with improvements in food and nutrition security as well as increases in farm productivity, primary school enrollment and attendance rates, and family expenditures on medicine. The discussion also touched on best practices that contribute to positive outcomes in the field and highlighted areas in which the U.S. government, World Bank, and other multilateral programs can strengthen their work in this area. Case studies referenced programs in countries including Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Honduras, Tanzania, and elsewhere.

This past March, Congressman James P. McGovern (D-MA) and Congresswoman Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) reestablished the bipartisan House Hunger Caucus for the 114th Congress in an effort to find solutions to hunger and malnutrition. The monthly briefing series embodies this goal through panel-led discussions on global food and nutrition security from a variety of perspectives.


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


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