By Paola Totaro
WASHINGTON, March 22 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - One in four people are worried about losing their home or land, according to a survey of nine countries, with Nigerians most concerned about homes and smallholder farmers in Tanzania and Indonesia most insecure about land.
The survey, conducted by U.S. polling firm Gallup and launched in Washington D.C. at a World Bank conference this week, is the first to try to document how secure people feel about their homes and land at a global level.
In total 11,000 people were questioned about ownership or tenure in Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Greece, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, Peru and Tanzania. Over the long term, the poll will be extended to about 140 countries.
Researchers found the length of tenure in homes or on land was a greater determinant of security than having documentation such as a lease or title deed.
Documented in the newly launched Property Rights Index (PRIndex), the research aims to create a baseline set of global data to help work aimed at securing property rights globally.
Respondents were asked questions about their views on the likelihood they will lose the right to live in their homes, the reasons they feel secure or insecure, possession of property documentation and who would get ownership in cases of divorce or inheritance.
In all nine countries surveyed, homeownership rates are higher in rural than urban areas while in most countries a majority of residents in both environments own their homes.
NIGERIAN HOME FEARS
Nigeria was the exception with 35 percent of urban Nigerians owning the homes they live in while 60 percent rent. In rural areas, 23 percent of Nigerians rent their homes.
One in three Nigerians fear they could lose their home.
In all nine countries, those who rent their homes are considerably less likely than homeowners to be classified as "secure".
In Indonesia, those figures are reversed with 29 percent of renters in Indonesia falling into the "secure" category, while almost two-thirds - or 62 percent - are deemed "very insecure".
Overall, lack of money was the common reason given by homeowners and renters who feel insecure. In economically scarred Greece, 81 percent cited this reason.
In several countries, family disagreements ranked alongside lack of money as the most common response with family disagreements was the key concern in Peru.
Documentation is seen as critical by property rights experts, not just for the security it gives residents but to help obtain credit or establish proof of residence to access to services such as schools, sanitation or food subsidies.
Rates of documentation were highest in the most urbanized and economically developed countries. Among those without documents, most said they either did not know how to obtain them or they cost too much.
Almost all of those who owned or rented homes in Greece - 96 percent - had documentation compared to 57 percent in Tanzania.
In eight of the nine countries most residents said that on divorce, both husband and wife would retain rights to the property. Nigeria was the exception, with almost half - 48 percent - saying property would transfer to the husband.
PRIndex is an initiative of the Omidyar Network - with whom the Thomson Reuters Foundation has a partnership on land rights coverage - and the UK's Department of International Development.