A president for the people
28 July 2022
Story of Shathi
28 July 2022
 

“I belong to the indigenous Pahan community in northern Bangladesh. Many households in my community are landless, or reside in disputed land.

I have been a member of our local village development organisation for a while. Although I studied till Class 10, I am considered one of the most educated women in my village. I also take proactive interest in the development of my community. Because of this, I was elected the president of our village development organisation in 2021.

As a part of its integrated intervention, BRAC has been providing training courses on land management to members of our community. I wanted to learn a new skill so I could earn a decent livelihood. I was also curious to learn more about a male-dominated field like land management, which prompted me to attend the course. It was not a smooth journey. I often faced ridicule from people in my village, who perceived land management as a sector exclusively reserved for men.

Recently, I came to learn that one of my neighbours had purchased a piece of land, but the land's previous owner was not willing to transfer the property rights on time. To mitigate the issue, I organised a meeting with the local leaders and a professional land measurer. My neighbour and the previous land owner were also in attendance. During the meeting, I reviewed the land documents and found that the previous owner falsely sold a chunk of government-owned land to my neighbour. After a tedious negotiation, I ensured that the previous owner handed over his own land to my neighbour.

With lack of such basic knowledge related to land ownership, particularly amongst women, I have noticed that many women were victims of land forgery. Since completing my workshop, I have helped numerous men and women in my village to successfully claim their lands.”

- Sitamoni, Naogaon, Bangladesh

One in every seven households in Bangladesh is involved in land disputes. Over 80% court litigations arise out of land disputes. Most members of the indigenous Pahan community do not have updated land documents. Many lose their documents and do not know how to recover them. In Bangladesh, plain land indigenous communities often lack access to basic services and economic opportunities. BRAC’s integrated support strives to facilitate access to those services in the last mile.