Safe World for Women Logo

Land-rights-mappingGrassroots Women Assemblies are necessarity to engage state and local authorities in solving land titling issues. 

By Luz Maria Sanchez Hurtado, Director, ESTRATEGIA, October 2013

Mapping-communityMapping the community.IIn the Chocos district a major accomplishment was achieved in engaging authorities to solve land titling issues and creating a resilient community through the combined efforts of Estrategia, GeoHazards International, Stanford University, San Franscisco (USA), and the Catholic University of Peru, along with the grassroots women belonging to Mujeres Unidas para un Pueblo Mejor, a partner network of Estategia.

Training sessions were organized, which focused on the grassroots women's participation, and the strategies and tools built to advocate for the demand of their needs to the authorities resulted in allowing these women achieve important results.

The women used a public event, which was organized as a strategy, to engage the authorities and get their support to solve the community problems. The Housing Ministry, through their advisor, architect Nora Chacon, supported the Chocos community with the titling process. The participation of Housing Ministry was made possible by the state organization of COFOPRI (Formalization and Informal Property Committee) and was important for the people of the Chocos community, who received the land title.

During the event, the mayor announced a municipal order to start a demolition program for the collapsed housing in the community to avoid disaster risks. This was also important because approval of land sanitation in the community allowed people to get the land title.

Women and men of the community were also trained in seismic and resistant construction, using mud brick units and geomesh as reinforcement of the walls.

Also important was the training of children, who learnt about how to avoid earthquakes and other kinds of natural disasters and motivated their parents to improve their homes using seismic and resistant construction.

The mayor of the Chocos community is the first mayor in Peru to launch the rural community of Chocos as a resilient community as part of the UN Campaign, Making Cities Resilient1.

As recognition of the work done in the Chocos community, two indigenous women were selected to represent the community in the World Conference of Indigenous Women2 at the end of October 2013.

Grassroots Assemblies

Grassroots Assemblies are grassroots women-led community meetings, which highlight their land-related needs and concerns. In Peru, Mujeres Unidas Para un Pueblo Mejor and Estrategia haveconducted Grassroots Assemblies to bring women together to share their concerns about eviction, lack of household decision-making, and other housing- and land-related concerns specific to women. These Assemblies have offered women a space to share these concerns and needs, and collectively think of innovative strategies to address them. 

Results of the Training

The grassroots women became empowered and started to advocate for land access rights after the authorities learned about the community problems related to the land titling; the women got the support of the Lima local government and the Housing Ministry.

Further, the communities of Las Brisas and Santa Rosa have received support from the municipality of Lima, with the construction of 24 staircases and seven retaining walls, which are currently under construction and will be completed by November 22.

The human settlement of Horacio Zevallos also received similar support, with the construction of six retaining walls and seven staircases. The construction of the retaining walls completed on May 5, 2012, and the inauguration is scheduled to be done in 20 more days.

The mayor of the Rimac district announced that families who have benefited from the Horacio Zevallos human settlement will get the right to possession before receiving the land titling.

Similar support was also provided to the grassroots women from the following communities:

  • Los Olivos District: the human settlements of Las Vegas and Juan Pablo II received support from the local government of Los Olivos district for the construction of infrastructure services and of four retaining walls and six staircases at the Las Vegas settlement.
  • District of Lima: the human settlements of Virgen del Carmen Conchucos and Los Incas got support from the local government of Lima to review their legal file in order to find a solution to the issues related to lack of titling and stop evictions that these families faced constantly.
  • District of Chorrillos and San Juan de Miraflores: the women are in the advocacy process of land titling access through the management committee.
  • District of San Martin de Porres: the women are advocating for support to get land titling of the human settlements and are coordinating plans with the municipality of Lima.
  • District of Independencia: the women received support from the local government for the construction of staircases.
  • District of Surco: the local government is supporting the people in old areas who still live without land titling.
  • The other districts located in urban areas are also in the advocacy process to get the land titling. In the case of the rural communities located in the high Andean region of Peru, the women got important results after the management committee started to advocate for their rights to the state and local authorities.

Results Obtained in Rural Communities Located Up on the High Andean Region of Peru

  1. Approval of a municipal order to start the demolition of collapsed housing, which poses as a hazard for the inhabitants during disasters like an earthquake.
  2. Approval of a land titling process with support of the local government's participatory budget program.
  3. Support of the Lima region provinces to the trained persons from the rural grassroots communities to be involved in the local and state programs. The trained persons have started an income-generating program, which supports the unemployed people. The work is being executed in the districts of Azangaro, Huangascar, and Yauyos in the Lima Provinces Region.
  4. Construction of a main road that supports five districts; this support was also demanded by the population lead by the mayor of the trained community of Chocos, located in the high Andean Region. The Lima Provinces Region president approved the proposal submitted by the five district mayors, and, as a result, the road is now under construction.

The women trained in land and housing access requirements are to form formal organizations to advocate for their land and housing rights.

The challenge for these women is to form a women's movement spanning from the local to national level, so that the land and housing access rights of urban and rural untitled communities can be heard by the state authorities and women can take their own decisions within their communities as community leaders.

The Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA)

Activities in Hyogo Framework 1

Making disaster risk reduction a policy priority (DRR), institutional strengthening

Previous coordination with the community leaders and sensitizing process, the grassroots know about the importance of prioritizing a policy of disaster reduction in the vulnerable communities to reduce the disaster risks – to affect the population.

The DRR to become an institutional strengthening system that motivates the population to live safely.

Activities in Hyogo Framework 2

Risk assessment and early warning systems

Training workshops related to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) with participatory and concerted involvement of the grassroots. The grassroots learn how to use the tools and strategies to get resilient communities through a validated methodology.

Activities in Hyogo Framework 3

Education, information and public awareness

The training process consists in theory and practice. The grassroots participate in anactive way, learning about the meaning of the HFA, resilience, vulnerability, hazards, risks etc. The climate change is also pointed out as an important issue to take in account when a disaster is produced.

The grassroots adopt a public awareness after they get trained and started to recognize about what important is to be trained in DRR issues and to be prepared.

Activities in Hyogo Framework 4

Reducing underlying risk factors

The grassroots learn how to reduce underlying risk factors:

  1. The Community Risk Mapping to identify the problems of vulnerability in the communities. This is a tool that is presented to the local authorities to advocate for solutions.
  2. The organization of public events to invite the state and local authorities to engage and get the support for the solution of the problems presented by the community. This is a strategy the grassroots built to get solutions to the community problems.
  3. The grassroots is trained in production of construction supplies like the mud brick units to retrofit the affected homes by the earthquakes.
  4. The grassroots participate in the retrofit of schools and learn about how to use the seismic and resistant construction materials in a safe construction. This becomes in a pilot and demonstrative project to disseminate in the community focusing the affected housing.
  5. The grassroots learn about how to use the correct materials for seismic and resistant construction.

Activities in Hyogo Framework 5

Preparedness for effective response

The grassroots participate in scenarios to be prepared; is important for the population to know about how to evacuate in case of disasters. The training process consists in identifying the evacuation areas to have in account in case a disaster occurs.

Other activities to Make Rural Communities Resilient

Other activities we are involved in are related to: the climate change environment: the grassroots learn about the importance of building the resistant walls in vulnerable housing areas located up on the hills. Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is related to climate change effects. In the case of the untitled housing areas, a main requirement is the construction of resistant walls to avoid disasters and to build a safe housing.

According to the Peruvian rules, the land titling is obtained only if the local government and the state agency of COFOPRI approve the construction of resistant walls to locate the water and sewage.

Our organization is focusing on making rural communities resilient. We already started with the Chocos Community located up on the high Andes of Peru, and the mayor launched his rural community (CHOCOS) as the first rural community resilient in

Our objective is to train and follow-up this process in other rural communities of Peru.

Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point(s)

Soluciones Prácticas, Lima-PERU

Estrategia is a member of the Alliance for a Safe World.