Footsteps 105 - Land rights

Footsteps 105 explores land rights – why are they important and what can we do to protect them?

Photo: Lambeth Palace/Picture Partnership


2018 is the year Tearfund celebrates its 50th birthday as an organisation. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has written a prayer to mark this occasion. Please join us in praying for an end to poverty. 

Gracious and generous God, you became poor so that we might be enriched by your love, and you gave the world’s wealth and resources as a common inheritance of all human beings. 

We pray you would strengthen your church to be a beacon of hospitality for the poor. 

We pray that, seeing the light of Christ’s love, the nations and peoples of the world may fight not to kill, but to outdo one another in care for the poor, and in actions of gracious generosity. 

Through him who for our sakes did not grasp the wealth of heaven, but instead gave all to live for us as a slave, and die for us in pain, Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. 


Knotty problem

Question: I know that advocating about land rights can be dangerous. How can my community keep safe while trying to protect our rights? 

Answer: When an organisation speaks out in a difficult environment or on controversial issues, it can be risky for the people involved. Violence, threats of violence, imprisonment and even death threats may be made against those doing the advocacy, their friends and family, and people in the communities involved. 

Below are some examples of ways of reducing risks associated with doing advocacy. 

  • Work with organisations outside the country or context who are not under the same threat. 
  • Undertake advocacy with others, as part of a network or alliance, to keep a low profile and give strength in numbers. 
  • Build strong relationships with those in power who could help you in difficult situations. 
  • Show respect to decision-makers and give them clear explanations if they ask for them. 

It is a good idea to do an advocacy risk analysis to identify and manage risks. Tearfund’s Advocacy toolkit can help with this. If any risk is too high, it is wise to consider alternative options for advocacy, such as asking an external spokesperson or overseas organisation to advocate on your behalf. 

It is good practice to ensure that everyone involved is aware of the risk, is still happy to proceed and is aware of what to do to minimise the risk. This will probably involve ensuring that they know who to go to for help. There may be some situations where the risk is so high that we cannot do any advocacy at all. However, it is worth remembering that, sometimes, there may be a bigger risk in not doing advocacy than in going ahead with it. 

Answer adapted from Tearfund’s Advocacy toolkit by Joanna Watson. Visit to download a free copy, or contact us to order a printed copy for £12.

Do you have a knotty problem you would like the Footsteps community to help with? Write to us as the address below.

Please write to: The Editor, Footsteps, 100 Church Road, Teddington, TW11 8QE, UK