Accessing khas land can help poor households diversify their incomes and facilitate a process of asset building alongside reducing the risks which threaten their livelihoods. However, for the extremely poor, fulfilling the right to government-provided khas land and further, making sustainable production from it, is a difficult and challenging task. The Uttaran/shiree supported project “SEMPTI” has provided support to extremely poor households in the southwestern districts of Khulna and Satkhira through; (1) the provision of khasland (on a temporary and permanent basis) and, (2) income generating assistance, with the overarching aim of graduating beneficiary householders from their situation of extreme poverty.
This study investigated three key aspects influencing negotiations for the purpose of understanding how the gains were made from the khas land by extremely poor households. Overall, the study has come to the conclusion that social structures within which extremely poor households function, constrain them in various ways. In most of the cases, a lack of capacities in terms of having inadequate knowledge, skills, negotiation and bargaining power, and access to government agencies for services, limit them in overcoming these constraining forces. The low productive practices of extremely poor households coupled with the difficult and isolated locations of their land are manifestations of their relative powerlessness. The paper finishes with a number of important suggestions for project-level improvement, spanning IGA training and distribution and working with female-headed households. On a wider policy level, khas land identification and distribution should be considered as a development imperative by the government. In this context there is scope for rural development policies and farmer development projects to include components for the development of khas land receiving households. While land needs to be transferred, simultaneous assistance is also needed to make the land productive. The role of UNOs needs to be expanded so that they fulfil their responsibilities set out in the 1997 policy on khas land identification and distribution.
Kabir, S.; Karban Ali. Making Productive Use of Khas land: Experiences of Extreme Poor Households. Shiree Working Paper No. 6. Shiree, Dhaka, Bangladesh (2011) 45 pp.