Fit-for-purpose land administration

Stig Enemark, Keith Clifford Bell, C.H.J. Lemmen, Robin McLaren

Research output: Book/ReportReportProfessional

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Land administration should be designed to meet the needs of people and their relation-ship to land, to support security of tenure for all and to sustainably manage land use and natural resources. However, the current solutions to delivering land administration services have very limited global outreach; 75 percent of the world’s population do not have access to formal systems to register and safeguard their land rights. The majority of these are the poor and the most vulnerable in society. There is an urgent need to build affordable and sustainable systems to identify the way land is occupied and used. FIG and the World Bank have been cooperating on solutions to this global issue since 2009 and this fit-for-purpose approach to land administration has emerged as a game changer. Fit-for-purpose means that the land administration systems – and especially the under-lying spatial framework of large scale mapping – should be designed for the purpose of managing current land issues within a specific country or region – rather than simply following more advanced technical standards. The fit-for-purpose approach is participatory and inclusive – it is fundamentally a human rights approach. Benefits relate to the opportunity of building appropriate land administration systems within a relatively short time and for relatively low and affordable costs. The fit-for-purpose approach be-ing proposed here offers governments and land professionals the opportunity to make a significant improvement in global land issues. It is a realistic approach that is scalable and could make a significant difference in the intermediate timeframe. The cases pro-vided in this report highlight just how successful this approach can be. The term “fit-for-purpose” is not new at all, but what is new is relating this term to build-ing sustainable land administration systems. Therefore, the approach used for building land administration systems in less developed countries should be flexible and focused on citizens’ needs, such as providing security of tenure and control of land use, rather than focusing on top-end technical solutions and high accuracy surveys. A fit-for-pur-pose approach includes the following elements: – Flexible in the spatial data capture approaches to provide for varying use and occupation. – Inclusive in scope to cover all tenure and all land. – Participatory in approach to data capture and use to ensure community sup-port. – Affordable for the government to establish and operate, and for society to use. – Reliable in terms of information that is authoritative and up-to-date. – Attainable in relation to establishing the system within a short timeframe and within available resources. – Upgradeable with regard to incremental upgrading and improvement over time in response to social and legal needs and emerging economic opportunities. A country’s legal and institutional framework must be revised to apply the elements of the fit-for-purpose approach. This means that the fit-for-purpose approach must be enshrined in law, it must still be implemented within a robust land governance frame-work, and the information must be made accessible to all users. There is a general consensus that governing the people to land relationship is in the heart of the global agenda. In this regard, it must be recognised that land governance and the operational component of land administration systems need a cost effective spatial framework of large scale mapping to operate. This will establish the link between people and land, and thereby enable management and monitoring of improvements to meet the aims and objectives of adopted global and country based land policies. This is where fit-for-purpose approaches provide crucial support in building affordable and sustainable land administration systems. The fit-for-purpose approach includes four key principles: – General boundaries rather than fixed boundaries. Using general boundaries to delineate land areas will be sufficient for most land administration purposes especially in rural and semi-urban areas. In the present context, the term “general boundary” means one whose position has not been precisely determined, although usually, the delineation will relate to physical features in the field. – Aerial imageries rather than field surveys. The use of high resolution satellite/ aerial imagery is sufficient for most land administration purposes. This approach is three to five times cheaper than field surveys. – Accuracy relates to the purpose rather than technical standards. Accuracy of the land information should be understood as a relative issue related to the use of this information. – Opportunities for updating, upgrading and improvement. Building the spatial framework should be seen in a perspective of opportunities for on-going updating, sporadic upgrading, and incremental improvement whenever relevant or necessary for fulfilling land policy aims and objectives. Ensuring advocacy for change and providing support to change management is a key role for organisations like the World Bank, UN-FAO, UN-HABITAT, FIG and other land related professional bodies. The politicians and decision makers in the land sector are key players in this change process. The hearts and minds of land professionals need to be turned to fully understand and embrace the fit-for-purpose approach. Organisations in the land sector need to ensure the awareness and up-to-date skills of their members and staff. The largest change will be focused on the public sector where this may involve institutional and organisational reforms, including legal framework, processes and procedures, and awareness in terms of incentives and accountability. To drive this change process there must be effective knowledge-sharing to ensure the lessons learnt and good practices are widely implemented. It is hoped that this publication will pave the way forward towards implementing sustainable and affordable land administration systems enabling security of tenure for all and effective management of land use and natural resources. This, in turn, will enable political aims such as economic growth, social equity and environmental sustainability to be better supported, pursued and achieved.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCopenhagen
PublisherInternational Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
Number of pages44
ISBN (Electronic)978-87-92853-11-0
ISBN (Print)978-87-92853-10-3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

PublisherInternational Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
ISSN (Print)1018-6530
ISSN (Electronic)2311-8423


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