International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Community Development and Planning (CDP)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Denise Humphreys Bebbington, PhD

Second Reader

Ramon Borges-Mendez, PhD


Multiple episodes of dispossession and displacement characterize the lives of landless rural and semi-rural families across El Salvador. The residents of 30 de Abril, a semi-rural community in El Salvador formed from displaced families, engaged in a five-year struggle to force the government to make good on its promise of land to the rural poor. Now, with legal titles in hand, residents continue to work together to seek additional services and resources for their community, proving their resilience in the face of displacement. Based upon the experience of 30 de Abril, this paper explores the trajectory of one community‟s struggle for land and the importance residents attribute to land ownership in terms of physical security and economic opportunity. The paper argues that for displaced families, land ownership mobilizes mutual trust and cooperation resulting in increasing levels of social capital that can then be used toward addressing broader community development needs and priorities.



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