Funded by

Humanitarian Policy Group (ODI)

Much of the aid was aimed at providing shelter, given the enormous number of people made homeless, and one of the challenges often blamed for delaying the response was ensuring land rights were respected in a country where it is almost impossible to know who owns what. The study focuses on how agencies grappled with the almost Kafka-esque world of Haitian land administration, and found that the response of agencies was to create their own world of rules and standards rather than engage with the uncertain and complex reality that Haitians themselves lived in. As a result, though there were significant achievements, the aid effort was limited in its impact, more expensive than necessary and did not give enough support to helping people achieve their own solutions.

There has been important progress in the way in which the humanitarian world appreciates and tackles land tenure issues in recent years. This study argues, though, that there are underlying reasons why agencies struggle to cope with local institutions like those of land. Unless these reasons are faced directly, it is likely that the same failings will continue to be repeated in each humanitarian crisis.

Carried out by

Béatrice Boyer

Housing and Urban Specialist (2005-15)