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From goodwill to good deals: FELDA land resettlement scheme and the ascendancy of the landless poor in Malaysia

Barau, Aliyu Salisu, Ismail Said. 2016. From goodwill to good deals: FELDA land resettlement scheme and the ascendancy of the landless poor in Malaysia. Land Use Policy, 54: 423–431.


Land resettlement schemes are commonly used in the developing countries to leverage poor people’s access to land for shelter, food production, or boosting rural development. Unfortunately, not many resettlement schemes have effectively solved the problems they were designed to tackle. For researchers and policymakers in particular, part of the problem has been the lack of enabling analytical tools for holistic and an in-depth analysis of the trajectories of the few successful models of land resettlement schemes. The current study examines the features of one of the most successful land resettlement initiatives, namely the Federal Land Development Authority (FELDA) scheme in Malaysia. Established in 1956, the scheme comprises over 400 settler communities that cover about 16% of Malaysia’s total land area. The FELDA scheme has tremendously transformed the lives of the landless population through provision of shelter, jobs, income from agribusiness shareholding, and ownership of highly valorised land titles. This study combined the path dependency approach and Earth system governance analytic tools to examine the trajectories and multidimensional features that make the FELDA scheme a good example to reckon with. Thus, broadening researchers and policymakers appreciation of the role of analytical dimensions is a major contribution of this study to the current debates on the pro-poor land governance strategies in the Global South. Finally, the study shines some light at the role of land governance in streamlining land development and goals of sustainable national planning.

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