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How do well-enforced property rights affect the poor? In a video produced by the International Justice Mission, one Ugandan woman explains,

In this part of the country, land is life. Good dreams are about your land. You find a person standing at the top of a hill and just surveying their land and this is where all their dreams are based – on a piece of land.

Uganda land

But for many Ugandans, that land will be violently seized – by people who they once considered family. The video explains,

One in three widows and orphans in Mukono, Uganda is a victim of property grabbing.

What is property grabbing? Jesse Rudy, the International Justice Mission Director in Uganda explains that when a man dies in Uganda, his relatives will often force the widow and her children off of their land, claiming it as ancestral “family land” disowning the widow from the man’s family.

IJM Uganda 2

Without the land to grow crops and livestock, the victims of property grabbing are left without a livelihood, much less a chance to make a profit or contribute to their communities.

Fortunately, International Justice Mission is working to ensure that private property laws in Uganda are upheld and enforced. With the legal assistance that the organization provides, it has helped more than 650 widows and orphans recover their land and have an opportunity to flourish.

The work of IJM in Uganda is more example of how important well-enforced private property rights are to human prosperity – and how much we take them for granted in our own society.

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Kristie Eshelman

About Kristie Eshelman

Kristie Eshelman works at a non-profit in the DC area. She received a BA in History from Grove City College.

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