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PRIndex: improving data to strengthen land tenure security

Written by Anna Locke


Millions of people currently lack the fundamental foundation for growth and development that tenure security and property rights offer. After being neglected in the Millennium Development Goals, land and property rights have since been pushed much further up the development agenda and now appear in three of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). To seize this vital opportunity for progress we need good, reliable and trusted data. PRIndex – the Global Property Rights Index, an initiative between ODI and Land Alliance, with seed funding from Omidyar Network and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) – seeks to provide this data.

A cost-effective and widely accessible measure of citizens’ perceptions of their property rights PRIndex will, within the next eighteen months, cover at least 36 countries, with data being used to inform key agendas and stakeholders. By 2019, the project aims to cover 140 countries.

Understanding citizens’ experience

PRIndex is collecting data from around the world on how secure individuals feel about their land and property rights, and the factors that affect this security. It will provide, for the first time, a global database that can be compared across countries and – eventually – time, on perceptions of security of tenure. Without this information, there can be no clear understanding of the magnitude and nature of citizens' experience of security and insecurity. With this information, governments can be helped to assess whether they have in place the measures necessary to protect the land and property rights of their citizens, especially women and the poorest populations. Civil society and citizens themselves will be able to hold governments to account for that protection, and funders will be able to make better informed investment decisions. By 2030, we expect governments around the world to be using PRIndex in the creation of appropriate, robust legal and administrative frameworks that protect the tenure of landholders.

Reliable, comprehensive and standardised

Current methods of understanding people’s perceptions of their property rights are costly, inefficient and take a long time. PRIndex largely relies on local data suppliers and works as closely as possible with national statistical offices. This approach – in contrast to traditional household surveys – allows for the rapid and cost-effective collection of reliable, comprehensive and standardised information. Further improvements may be provided by Gallup’s innovative Findyr network which can roll out high quality surveys in a short space of time and at relatively low cost; this is being tested. 

Survey design has been refined too; after a year of testing, there is high confidence in the integrity and robustness of the data collected. A recent quarterly bulletin offers a sneak preview of the latest test results and these will be reported on within a few weeks.

Maintaining traction, visibility and access

PRIndex has an important role to play in maintaining traction on land tenure and security. SDG land indicator 1.4.2 has recently been elevated to Tier II status but, in general, for an issue to remain visible on the SDG agenda, its indicator needs to have achieved Tier I status (being ‘regularly produced by countries for at least 50 per cent of countries and of the population in every region where the indicator is relevant’). PRIndex will help to accelerate this change in status, supporting the aim of achieving sufficient coverage by 2019.

From March 2018, data will be collected from two sets of sixteen countries and a new publicly accessible data platform will provide an intuitive, interactive way to engage with and utilise the PRIndex data.

PRIndex is an exciting, forward thinking and hopefully far-reaching project that not only provides essential data but also improves data access and monitoring. Most importantly, it equips governments, citizens and civil society with a powerful tool for achieving tenure security for all.