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Continuing excellence at Land Equity …
4th September 2018

Spring is in the air. Energy, drive, and motivation to continue LEI’s quality service delivery. It’s with great excitement today that I start as the new Managing Director of Land Equity International. Since joining the company in September 2006, I’ve researched, consulted, trained, designed, developed, implemented and reviewed land and land-related solutions for the betterment of peoples lives. To Africa, the Pacific and into Asia, I’ve made business development trips, short and long consultancies, and most recently, called Laos home during my 4-year term as Team Leader for the Mekong Region Land Governance Project.  

As a niche professional services company, there have been many lessons learned and opportunities seized to step up into this new role. Throughout this time, Tony Burns has been a key supporter and with his continuing presence in the company as Executive Director - Business Development Manager, and with the continued support of the whole LEI team, we will continue to grow, improve and deliver excellence in land sector consulting services worldwide.

Land is too fundamental to people’s lives to put in the ‘too hard basket’.  It’s political, it’s sensitive, but it’s more than just a life asset for the poor and vulnerable. Fundamentally, it means different things to different people and we as land professionals must continue to recognise this. The nature and rights of who, what, and where land is, in parts are bound by laws; in the same moment, for many others with customary rights, there little to no recognition of their land arrangements. It’s complicated, and in an ever-globalising technology-driven community there’s no simple one-click solution. Nonetheless, the breadth of experience within LEI allows us to tackle, and carefully consider with our partners and clients all the pieces of the puzzle with long term, strategic and sustainable solutions.

I will lead with a strong sense of purpose and ethics in all that LEI consults on and manages. I continue to believe that strengthening land governance systems, understanding the local context, empowering local ownership to enhance project delivery, and growing diversity to fuel innovation, is what LEI can firmly deliver on. Sharing is caring. That’s why we will endeavour to be a better part of the ‘knowledge’ community, imparting more frequently the experience of our experts and sharing exemplary project solutions in the ongoing discussions and debates that are taking place.

I’ll use plenty of walks for coffee (or long strides in the case of Tony’s surveyor pace) as I step into the large footprint that Tony and previous Directors, have carved for Land Equity. With such a great family of experts here at LEI, amongst our Senior Associates, and regular consultants, the future is very bright.

I look forward to working with you.


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Exploring PPPs in Land Administration
4th September 2018

Next month, LEI are organising with our partners a consultation workshop in Dubai on Public Private Partnership schemes for land administration. The World Bank’s Global Land and Geospatial Unit (GSULN) has engaged LEI with our partners, Planet Partnership, University of Melbourne, and Global Land Alliance to develop a Knowledge Product (KP) that describes and explores modalities for PPPs in delivering land administration services, titled Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) in Land Administration.

Globally, the topic of PPPs for land administration has generated considerable interest amongst land agencies and the private sector, as nearly 70 percent of the world’s population still does not have access to affordable land administration services. While PPPs have been successfully launched in sectors like water and electricity, this topic in the context of land administration is poorly understood, especially in emerging economies. LEI and partners are therefore taking the preliminary think tank concepts to global consultation. The first of these will seek feedback from representatives of the public sector, private sector, and academia to stress-test the initial analysis, operational framework and identify key actionable opportunities.

The following website is where you can follow the project and knowledge products as they come online. We’ll be looking for your comments and feedback. Please feel free to get in touch with Daniel Paez, Project Manager, for more information.

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MRLG and FAO hold second Regional Land Forum
26th June 2018

The Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) held their second Regional Land Forum in Bangkok on 28-30 May 2018.

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Message from Tony Burns, Managing Director
8th March 2018

Welcome to our Autumn edition of the Land Equity International (LEI) newsletter.


2017 was a productive year for LEI, with ongoing projects in Indonesia, the Mekong and Tanzania, as well as many short-term assignments internationally. Within the office in Wollongong, we also had some changes with Fiona leaving the company at the end of June and Daniel Paez beginning with us in August. Daniel is originally from Colombia, and he holds a PhD from the University of Melbourne, supervised by Ian Williamson. He brings with him experience in urban land administration and public-private partnerships (PPPs), areas LEI will continue growing in 2018. 

In this newsletter we have a number of updates on our projects. Our World-Bank funded One Map Technical Assistance (TA) project, which commenced in February 2017, finished up at the end of January. In previous newsletters we have reported on the progress of our Millennium Challenge Account-Indonesia (MCA-I) funded Participatory Mapping and Planning Sub-Activity Projects – our final project, PMAP7, will conclude this month. Our DFID-funded Land Tenure Support Programme continues to provide support and advice to the Government of Tanzania on improving the land laws and implementing systematic registration. We report here on the establishment of the multi-stakeholder group, and successes in land tenure awareness raising.

The current phase of the Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project will be concluding in mid-2018. Special thanks to John Meadows for capably taking on the reins as acting Team Leader during 2017 for this project, and congratulations to usual Team Leader Kate Rickersey, who welcomed daughter Lucy into the world. Late in 2017, MRLG underwent a successful end-of-phase evaluation and we are now eagerly anticipating the next phase. We have confirmed a significant delegation from the project to present at and attend the 2018 Annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference.

Kate Fairlie, Daniel Paez and I have all contributed to a number of technical assistance and other projects with the World Bank since mid-2017, including preliminary work towards a design of the Honduras Land Administration Project, review of the Indonesian Registering Property and Land Administration Systems, development of a guide to using new technology for fit-for-purpose land administration, and support to land institutions in Greece, Palestine and Sri Lanka. Daniel also presents here the successful 2017 FIG Commission 7 and 9 Annual Meeting, which he coordinated in Cartagena, Colombia. In addition to his MRLG stint, John has continued to provide support in a sub-contractor role to the World Bank-funded Uganda Land Information System project, led by IGN.

We will have a strong showing of LEI staff at the Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty being held in Washington from 19th -23rd March. In a first for LEI, we are planning a special social event early in the week at which we will be making some important announcements about LEI, details will be forthcoming. I look forward to reconnecting with you all then.

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What is happening at MRLG?
8th March 2018

Here at LEI and Gret’s Mekong Region Land Governance project we are moving towards the end of Phase 1 in June. We expect a relatively seamless shift into the second phase, which is anticipated to start in July this year, for another four years.

From two recent external project evaluations, it’s clear that the project has gained considerable regional traction since its inception and is now making a significant contribution to the regional land governance debate. The reviews recommend that Phase 2 should build on these achievements and take a more focused and streamlined approach to policy and practice change.

The Project Implementation Unit (PIU) have prepared a Phase 2 Project Design Document in close cooperation with project funder SDC.  We have agreed that Phase 2 will be based on the following features:

  • In each country and at a regional level, strategic areas of work (Thematic Work Streams and Alliances) will be defined by a policy or practice objective, and all activities will aim to support this policy objective.  We envision one to two priorities per country initially, while at the regional level, we plan to initiate two to three thematic work streams and alliances;
  • The definition of the strategy and plan of activity for each of these policy/practice change work streams will be defined in cooperation with a core group of committed stakeholders/ partners, who will first agree on a common goal, and then form alliances for change;
  • The alliances will develop a flexible work plan, in which the definition of activities/sub-projects and responsibilities are shared among members;
  • New activities will be supported by MRLG under partnerships and contractual agreements with identified alliance members, and funding will be flexible in both size and duration, however not through open calls for proposals;
  • MRLG will continue to work closely with governments with strong political will to adopt favourable policy objectives for smallholder farmers, as well as with Reform Actors working with similar agendas.
  • MRLG will continue to develop evidence-based information and identify and establish various channels for dialogue and influence pathways to draw the attention of decision-makers to critical policy and practice issues of land governance.

From January, MRLG entered a transition period towards its 2nd Phase, compiling and completing Phase 1 activities. It has started to turn its focus to developing targeted policy and practice change work streams for Phase 2.


The Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG), is a project of the Government of Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), with co-financing from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Government of Luxembourg.

The MRLG project supports land tenure security of smallholder farmers. The MRLG project is implemented by Land Equity International (LEI) in partnership with Group de Recherché et d’ Echanges (Gret) and supported by the Deutsche Gesellscha& fűr Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ).

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One Map Technical Assistance Project Wraps Up
8th March 2018

The year has gone quickly for the LEI team working on the One Map Technical Assistance project in Indonesia. The primary objective of this technical assistance was to assist with the project preparation of the One Map Project – a project to support the implementation and acceleration of Indonesia’s One Map Policy. Working alongside the two implementing agencies - the National Land Agency (BPN) and the Geospatial Information Agency (BIG) - as well as the World Bank, the LEI team prepared a series of background and project preparation reports detailing the project design of the One Map Project. These are now ready for review and appraisal by the Government of Indonesia and the World Bank, and the project wrapped up at the beginning of February.

The outputs of the One Map Project support the “sustainable landscapes” programme within Indonesia (a response to the recent disastrous peat and forest fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra) as well as supporting the implementation of the Government’s Agrarian Reform (that includes the certification of 50 million parcels over the next 5 years) and the national One Map Policy. Participatory mapping is a significant component of the One Map Project design and the LEI team visited many of the targeted provinces in Kalimantan and Sumatra and held workshops in Jakarta to develop fit-for-purpose participatory mapping for these contexts.

Identifying and achieving fit-for-purpose participatory mapping is easier said than done in a country as big and diverse as Indonesia. A key challenge of the project design was how the country can best transition from paper based to digital capture and processing of collected ownership details, supporting documents and mapping. This needs to occur both in urban areas as well as rural, where power and internet are at best weak and unreliable. Easy to use, cost effective technology is needed to address resource and capacity needs, whilst delivering appropriate spatial accuracy.

Participatory mapping processes also need to fit within the existing legal framework, mobilising private sector survey and mapping companies and ensuring there is sufficient human and technology capacity within the National Land Agency to deal with the volume of land certificates that are expected to be prepared as well as the land use, forest and village boundary geospatial data that will be generated from the One Map Project. 

LEI is proud to have been involved in the design of the One Map Project and will watch its progress over the next 5 years with great interest.

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SUCCESS STORY – Land Tenure Registration Ensured Land Rights to all family members in Nyange
8th March 2018

At the age of 60, Ibrahim Ng'wala a husband of six wives with 17 children has lived his entire life in the village known as Nyange. This village is located nearby the famous Kilombero Sugar Company Limited in Kilombero district, Morogoro Region.

Within this village, marriage is a symbol of economic success – particularly multiple marriages. It is common for people who are economically stable to marry more than one wife. Those less well-off will instead pursue a monogamous marriage for economic stability.

Mr. Ngwala has succeeded to provide for his entire family by solely depending on farming as his main source of income. Before land registration, he owned 21 land parcels, totalling over 81 acres, that he has used to cultivate sugar cane and rice.

In Nyange, like so many other Tanzanian villages, land ownership is traditionally passed on from one male to another without title deeds or written wills. Mr. Ng'wala worries his descendants could start fighting over his estate when he dies.

On June 2016, a team from the Land Tenure Support Programme arrived at this village. Mr. Ngwala didn't take them seriously at first, to him they were just like any other government officials who wanted to intervene with his land ownership. Still he decided to show up and listen to what they had to say.

The team discussed the benefits of land registration with Mr Ngwala and other village community members, including advising on options for land registration and inheritance planning as well as promoting an understanding of land rights for all, including men, women, youth, disabled, pastoralists and children. Mr. Ng'wala realized that he could subdivide his land to each of his family members and formally register and acquire title deeds for each land parcel. This would remove his concerns about future conflicts over his land.

"No villager or any other member of my family should claim any of the surveyed plots that do not belong to them. I have given each of my 17 kids portions of fields, and the same to my wives, and my relatives are all satisfied with the decisions I have made," Mr Ng'wala said, explaining that such conflicts had caused endless hatred and even death to some of his neighbors.

"Now that we are in cultivating season, each member of my family is happy because they have full control to decide on their land on what they can grow over the land and the income from their produce, taking loans from banks etc." remarked Mr. Ng'wala.

The knowledge he obtained made him realize that titles will enable him to improve his income by having a recognizable title, also qualifying him for a loan from the bank should he wish to expand his farming practices. Subdividing and titling his land will also address his worries about the land conflicts that were bound to happen when he passes on.

Statistics show that in Nyange village, whilst 49 percent of women own farms, this percentage includes those with joint land ownership with their husbands as well as individual farms. This percentage is increasing as a result of the awareness raising of the Land Tenure Support Programme.

Photo caption: Mr Ng'wala's compound where four of his wives live.

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LTSP promotes debate on the review of legal and regulatory framework on Land Administration and Governance
8th March 2018

Tanzania’s Land Tenure Support Programme (LTSP) has again demonstrated that there is strong national and sectoral leadership and commitment to improved land service delivery and transparency in Tanzania. In any land project there is always a need for strong communication and coordination within and between government and non-government stakeholders. The LTSP has recently established a Multi Stakeholder Group (MSG) to best facilitate and improve inter-agency cooperation, in support of land tenure reform as envisioned under the Strategic Plan for Implementation of Land Laws (SPILL) 2013.

The main objective of the MSG is to promote debate on current legislation and policy evolution, institutional roles and responsibilities. Through the LTSP, the MSG has organised several forums that have debated on legal and policy reform needs with a view to improving communication and coordination between the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlement (MLHHSD) and other government institutions and organisations. With recent efforts, the MSG has formulated research topics in the areas of land related disputes, dispute resolution systems and benefit sharing model on large scale investment on land to analyse various benefit sharing models and make recommendations suitable for Tanzania.

The MSG recently convened a special working session in Dodoma, the Capital City of Tanzania, to kick start the debate on the state of legal and policy issues on land. The objective of the session was to come up with a position paper that identifies priority areas and essential changes needed within land-related legislation, in order to facilitate the review and harmonisation of the land laws. In developing this policy paper, MSG Members reviewed and analysed the current legal and institutional issues in the land sector, including identifying those that hinder the acceleration of registration of rural land, discourage promotion of investment in land, deny land rights among various groups and which ultimately limit tenure security.

Broad stakeholder representation on the MSG is critical to its success and the quality of its outputs. This has been ensured through the inclusion of members from across the relevant Ministries and non-governmental organisations, including Care International and MVIWATA, as well as the private sector, University of Dar es Salaam and a representation from international development partners. The participation of civil society and non-governmental organisations particularly facilitates trust and confidence and further opens communication channels as these organisations report back on progress and decisions to interested parties.

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2017 FIG commission 7 and 9 annual meetings and Congress in Cartagena Colombia
8th March 2018

From the 4th to the 8th of December 2017, the International Federation of Surveyors (or FIG in French), held the annual meetings of Commission 7 and Commission 9 in the city of Cartagena, Colombia. The president of the organising committee was Dr Daniel Paez, a LEI Land Specialist based at our headquarters in Wollongong. LEI was a main sponsor of the event.

Commission 7 of FIG focussed on Cadastre and Land Administration issues while the Commission 9 main topic was property valuation and management of real estate. In addition to both chairs of these commissions - Ms Gerda Schennach and Mr Steve Nystrom - keynote speakers of the event included Dr Jorge Muñoz, Practice Manager of the Global Land and Geospatial Unit at the World Bank, and the head of the Colombian mapping agency (IGAC) Mr Juan Nieto.

The main conclusions from the event were the need for surveyors to adapt faster to changes in the profession as new technologies emerge. There is also the need for land administration practitioners to learn more about project financing opportunities as a trend across the world is appearing where the private sector is likely to play a vital role in the future of land tenure security with the expansion of public-private partnerships. 

All presentations and more conclusions from the event can be found at 

At LEI, we consider it fundamental to support the involvement of all surveying professionals in the overarching factors that affect land administration across the world. As we did in this event, we have been participating and supporting FIG events and initiative for many, so there is connectivity between academia, private and public actors in those critical issues that affect land tenure security, particularly in developing countries.

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Reflections Workshop promotes community-based organisation participation in land initiatives
26th June 2017

The Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project is currently undertaking a planned program of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities. These are designed to assess the effectiveness of some of the MRLG Learning and Alliance (L&A) and Grant-funded activities. 

The Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project is currently undertaking a planned program of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) activities. These are designed to assess the effectiveness of some of the MRLG Learning and Alliance (L&A) and Grant-funded activities.  

As part of the L&A activity assessment, members of the Project Implementation Unit (PIU) recently visited Hanoi where, together with national staff, they ran a ‘Reflection Workshop’ to review work associated with the “promotion of community-based organisations participation in land legislation implementation and monitoring". The workshop was attended by representatives from 13 partner organisations including lead partner the Center for Indigenous Knowledge Research and Development (CIRD) and representatives from the Fatherland Front of Vietnam and Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Association.

The workshop reflected on the history, objectives, activities and outcomes of the L&A group with the aim of sharing the lessons learnt and identifying key success factors. Of note was the strength of commitment among all partner organisations to work towards a common goal, the accumulated knowledge that was gained from working together, the positive impact that the L&A had on capacity building and the fact that the activity contributed to the launch of a monitoring mechanism for the Fatherland Front at all levels of government activities in general, and to land policy in particular. 

Image: John Meadows (Acting Team Leader, MRLG), Joo Zimmerman (L&A) and Dominik Wellman (M&E) from the PIU and Lan Nguyen (the MRLG National Facilitator for Vietnam) are photographed with Mr. Phan Văn Vượng (Deputy Head of Democratic and Laws Committee, Central Fatherland Front) and Mr. Lê Công Lương (Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Association (VUSTA)).

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