Expert Group Meeting on Transparency in Land Administration – a Capacity Building Programme for Africa

Nairobi, Kenya, 29-31 January 2007

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FIG President Stig Enemark and Vice President Paul van der Molen at United Nations Office in Gigiri, Nairobi.


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Dr. Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN-HABITAT, addresses the participants of the Expert group Meeting at the United Nations Office at Nairobi.

FIG President Stig Enemark and Vice President Paul van der Molen attended the Expert Group Meeting - EGM - on Transparency in Land Administration – a Capacity Building Programme for Africa, held at the UN-Habitat in Nairobi, Kenya, 29-31 January 2007. This meeting was organised by UN-Habitat and the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) in cooperation with the International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), Enschede, The Netherlands. The GLTN is facilitated by UN-Habitat to promote the development of innovative tools, and to adopt a more multidisciplinary approach to land also exemplifies an increased focus on land and tenure security.

Transparency is a critical component of a functioning land administration, in particular in view of the scarcity of clear and credible information on land availability and transactions, and the poor dissemination of public information on land rights and policies. The risk of corruption and inequalities are very real in land allocation and management. The consequences to the poor often takes the form of difficult access to land assets, unawareness of land policies and legal frameworks, ignorance about land transactions and prices, misallocation of land rights, land grabbing and abuse. When in place, transparency can encourage civic engagement and stakeholders’ accountability by rendering the public decision making arena more accessible. This in turn strengthens confidence in governments and public agencies, and has a positive economic impact.

The EGM, brought together approximately 35 participants from Sub-Saharan Africa and internationally identifying issues and priorities for exploring the land administration-transparency area and a road map for the way forward. The participants represent experiences from land, governance and training and capacity building, drawing from international academic and professional expertise while focusing specifically on the realities in Sub-Saharan Africa. President Enemark and Vice President van der Molen were invited to present their view on transparency subject in relation to capacity building. They participated in a workshop developing the basis for a capacity programme.

From capacity building perspective it was concluded that there is a need for unconventional approaches and for changes of mindset. We are taking rules as ‘given’ rather than thinking differently how to reflect on land. Two issues are relevant: curricula to be updated in all land related professions; and: training of trainers (including retraining lecturers): Knowledge can be ‘taught’ and Skills can be trained. For attitudes a positive environment is needed to create confidence and where there is room for reflection on behaviour and support to sustain new behaviour. Short training will provide awareness, guidance and encouragement. To increase impact of training we need people to be ready to implement outcomes. People need to work on specific cases where they can directly implement and discuss with others in a mutual support network. This will need a workshop/training combination based on own needs.

It is needed to address lack of transparency systematically. E.g. when do land administrators get corrupted? We watch one set of corrupt practices be replaced by another and this ‘cascades up’. There is usually evidence to prosecute, but other social/cultural conditions apply in Africa. Because of embedded understandings of corruption we need to re-orient all role-players and cascade down. Lack of transparency is not restricted to Africa.

The next phase will be the joint execution of courses, together with regional training and capacity building institutions, targeted mainly towards policy makers, during 2007 and 2008.

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Chrit Lemmen
Vice Chair of FIG Commission 7 and chair of Working Group 7.1