Skoll Foundation



Skoll Awardee(s): Tim Hanstad
Award Year: 2012
Issue Area(s) Addressed: Economic Opportunity

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“We are all dissatisfied with the status quo. Dissatisfied living in a world where more than a billion people continue to languish in extreme poverty. And we know it doesn’t have to be that way, because we have seen that families can pull themselves out of poverty with the power of land ownership.”

Sub-Issue: Smallholder Productivity Most of the world’s poorest families live in rural areas and depend on land to survive, but don’t have rights to that land. More than a billion people, women in particular, have little or no legal control over the land on which they depend. This reduces farm yields, nutrition, and income, and contributes to domestic violence and lack of shelter.

The Skoll Awardee: Inspired by his mentor and professor, Roy Prosterman who founded Landesa to secure long-lasting land rights for rural communities worldwide, Tim Hanstead joined the organization in 1986. He accumulated deep field experience and developed an extensive network of key policymakers, particularly in India, where he lived for many years. He became Landesa’s president and CEO in 2004 and transformed it from a small, university project into the world leader in securing land rights for the rural poor, by applying strategic and legal leverage.

Landesa’s work often starts with an invitation from a government struggling to create opportunity for its poorest citizens. This typically leads to a four-step engagement: field research; design and review of proposed changes to laws, programs, and regulations; education of officials and the public about necessary changes; and assistance in the adoption and implementation of these changes, monitoring and evaluating to learn from the process and recommend further changes and improvements where appropriate. Recognizing that women are disproportionately affected, the Landesa Center for Women’s Land Rights has become a leading voice in India promoting laws, policies, programs and practices that provide women and girls improved legal rights to land.

At the time of the Award, Landesa had helped more than 100 million families all over the world gain title to their land. Tim will continue to work in the field with Landesa even after he steps down as CEO in 2015.

Impact since joining the portfolio in 2012:

  • More than 2.2 million men and women gained secure rights to their land in the 2014 fiscal year.
  • Nearly 700 million stand to benefit from laws and policies enacted in the 2014 fiscal year.
  • Achieving transformational change through secure land rights: demonstrated advances in girls staying in school, reduced vulnerability to child marriage, family income.




© 2015 Skoll Foundation.