Feed the Future (FTF) Land Tenure Assistance (LTA) activity has commenced
16th March 2016

From the first quarter of 2016, LEI will provide technical support to DAI on this project. The project is part of the FTF initiative which sits under a five-year umbrella contract referred to as: Strengthening Tenure and Resource Rights (STARR).

The STARR program is designed to address resource tenure issues in support of key US Government strategic objectives, which include:

  • enhanced food security
  • climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • conflict prevention and mitigation
  • economic growth
  • biodiversity protection and natural resource management
  • women's empowerment and gender equality, and
  • reduction in the spread of infectious diseases (specifically HIV/AIDS).

USAID has invested in several agricultural projects in the Southern Agriculture Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT). It aims to develop targeted land tenure programming to support existing and planned investments by USAID in SAGCOT. The FTF LTA will clarify and document land ownership, support land use planning efforts, and increase local understanding of land use and land rights. It is anticipated that interventions will reduce land tenure-related risks and lay the foundation for sustainable agricultural investment for small holders and commercial investors throughout SAGCOT and in the value chains to be targeted in the FTF program.

For more information, please see,

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MRLG for web

MRLG facilitates a regional stakeholder consultation workshop for addressing land challenges in the Mekong
16th March 2016

The Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project recently held its second round of stakeholder and consultation workshops with regional partners from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam.

The three priority objectives were to:

  1. share information about on-going MRLG initiatives from the various activity and funding streams, receive feedback from partners
  2. provide a working space for technical and planning discussions on regional Learning and Alliance-building activities – addressing the thematic priorities of the project on: recognition of customary tenure; evidence-based research for land scale land acquisition policy and regulation; and private engagement for responsible investment in agro-forestry, and
  3. provide a coordination opportunity between national and regional activities for ongoing implementation.

Workshop participants consisted of partner organisations and individuals involved in MRLG- supported activities from the public and private sector, non-government and civil society organisations and academia. More than 80 people attended – representing over 30 organisations from six countries in Southeast Asia.

The MRLG project supports engagement opportunities between organisations, learning from experience, and sharing lessons (where appropriate) with regional partners that may be applied in the various policy contexts.  Workshop attendees are preparing for coordinated responses and priority areas for joint collaboration on issues of land governance. A particular focus for future activities is on preparing information necessary for policy making and improving practices that will ensure family farmers have secure access and control over land, and natural resource tenure. The workshop and MRLG’s ongoing Learning and Alliance-building activities provide a platform for various stakeholders to build a common understanding of the issues, contexts and solution pathways to work on across national and regional level action plans.

Unique challenges, different enabling economic and political environments, and new opportunities were addressed by sharing experiences from the participants. In relation to principles of responsible agricultural investment, opportunities exist in Lao PDR via improved dialogue and awareness-raising. Since the progressive National Land Use policy was approved in January 2016 by the government in Myanmar, there are potential opportunities to work in an improved policy context that will allow the creation of improved pathways for the poor and ethnic communities through the recognition of customary tenure. In Cambodia, working with the Ministry of Environment has resulted in opportunities to further strengthen land tenure situations for local farmers, identify opportunities for equitable reallocation of cancelled economic land concessions – particularly for land to be returned to original owners. In Vietnam, project activities are playing a role to assist local communities to negotiate for State Forest-allocated areas to be returned fairly.

The 22-24 February 2016 workshops were held at the Mercure Hotel and co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), supported also by GIZ. It is foreseeable that future contributions towards the Grant Facility will come from the Luxembourg Government Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (MFEA).

For more information on the MRLG project, please see and

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2015 11 27 17.55.11 3 for web

Ugandan delegation learns about land information systems and the role of technology in NSW/ACT
16th March 2016

From late November through to early December 2015, LEI hosted a Study Tour by a delegation from the Ugandan Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development.

The delegation was headed by the Hon. Minister Daudi Migereko and Permanent Secretary Musoke Gabindadde who were accompanied by Nadege Orlova of IGN International of France – the company responsible for the World Bank-funded Design Supply and Implementation of a Land Information System project.

The project is designed to contribute to the establishment of an efficient land administration system in Uganda and facilitate enhanced delivery of basic land services and improved tenure security.

The Study Tour focused on providing the delegation with an overview of the various aspects of land administration in New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) – with an emphasis on the role of technology.

While in Sydney, the delegation visited the Land and Property Information office where they were provided with an overview of the land registration system in operation in NSW, as well as given a chance to visit the customer services area and learn about future plans for the agency. The second day of the Study Tour included visits to Liverpool City Council and the Planning and Environment Department of the New South Wales Government.

From Sydney, the delegation headed to the Australian capital – Canberra – where they visited the offices of the Public Sector Mapping Agencies (PSMA) and learned how PSMA was formed in order to coordinate the collection of fundamental national geo-spatial data sets and to facilitate access to this data. From the PSMA, the delegation made their way to the offices of the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute of Australia where they were provided with an in-depth presentation on land administration in the ACT led by the Surveyor General and colleagues.

While in Canberra, and at the behest of His Excellency Mr Enoch Nkuruho Ugandan High Commissioner to Australia, the delegates were able to visit the Ugandan High Commission where the Study Tour was drawn to a successful conclusion.

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2015 10 21 16.41.34 for web

Vanuatu Land Program closes with Kava after 5 years
16th March 2016

Towards the end of 2015, LEI completed the five-year DFAT-funded Vanuatu Land Program. The Program was a long-term commitment by the Government of Vanuatu (GoV) in land sector reform initiatives that aimed to support the Land Sector Framework through improved decision making, making land transactions more transparent, and improving land management procedures and practices (and in doing so, minimise the potential for conflict over land matters).

LEI facilitated and supported the following program objectives:

  • informed collective decisions by customary landholders
  • participatory land governance
  • effective and enabling services
  • a strengthened Customary Land Management Office consistent with the GoV’s land reform agenda
  • a Land Information Management system that met current/future needs and supported economic development, and
  • implementation of effective management and governance systems.

Reflecting on his last two years as Program Director (2014/2015), John Meadows said:

“Working in Vanuatu was a fantastic experience. It’s a beautiful country and the people are among the most friendly I have ever met. The time spent supporting community outreach associated with the 2014 land laws was particularly enjoyable, and I feel privileged to have been able to have spent time in some of the communities that – as a tourist – one may never get a chance to visit”

In a frank assessment of the technical aspects of the Program, John went on to say:

“There were successes in some areas, while in others it was hard going. In the Department of Lands, I’d like to think that the introduction of improved processes, documented procedures, document tracking and title information systems, and creation of valuation roles have made a difference. The customary land sector proved more challenging. Supporting the development of the Malvatumauri Roadmap was an important contribution, as were the capacity building and community outreach activities associated with the establishment of the Customary Land Management Office and the introduction of new legislation. Progress in respect of embedding monitoring and evaluation, gender mainstreaming, improved governance and securing customary land tenure proved more difficult, and there is still much work to do.

I’d like to thank all of the people who assisted the Program during my time in Vanuatu, including the LEI staff, the Program office staff, counterparts in the respective ministries and departments, the subcontractors and stakeholders who provided input, advice and support, DFAT staff at the Australian High Commission and last (but not least) my landlord and land lady Brian and Galia at the Hub (not forgetting Coco the dog!).”

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Developing a Road Map for ASEAN
16th March 2016

The final report for the Development of Implementation/Action Plans to Enhance Mobility of ASEAN Professionals on Surveying Servicesproject has been completed and is awaiting final sign-off. This project was funded by the ASEAN-Australian Development Cooperation Program Phase II and undertaken with the ASEAN Surveying Working Group.

The major outcome of this project is a Road Map with detailed activities and outcomes to better understand, document and enhance the education, professional competencies and institutions necessary to ensure a robust and strong surveying profession that will meet the needs of all ASEAN member states for surveying services into the future.

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LEI Newsletter_Autumn 2016 Newsletter
31st March 2016

To view the Autumn 2016 edition of our newsletter, please click here.

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Policy Brief article picture

Nov11 SDG Land Indicator
18th November 2015

In the November 2015 the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development – Working Group on Land, issued the following policy brief in support of the Land Indicators that have been included in the Sustainable Development Goals  (SDGs) which replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). There are an important set of indicators that we all need to strive towards meeting in our commitments, actions and collaborative efforts.

“The Global Donor Working Group on Land (GDWGL), a network of 23 bi- and multilateral donors and international organisations committed to improve land governance worldwide, praises the work and achievements to date by the Interagency and Expert Group on Sustainable Development Goal Indicators (IAEG-SDGs).

At the same time, with a global portfolio of investments in land governance reaching USD 8.2 billion in 131 countries, the Donor Working Group on Land is highly concerned with the result of the second meeting of the IAEG-SDGs in October, in Bangkok, where the land indicator (1.4.2) under target 1.4 was recommended for deletion.

The GDWGL acknowledges that the generally approved land rights indicator under Goal 5 Indicator 5.a.1 is very is very related for women’s land rights. However, given the universal nature of tenure rights and large equality gaps also in this area, women will be better served if the land rights indicator remains under Goal 1.  The appropriate indicator, under target 1.4, also supported by the Global Land Indicators Initiative (GLII), Landesa and many other partners, would read:  “Percentage of people with secure tenure rights to land (out of total adult population), with legally recognized documentation and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure"

In the last three years, the GDWGL has focused its efforts to ensure that the globally endorsed Voluntary Guidelines for the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security (VGGT) are implemented and monitored at the national level, as much as well represented at the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Without secure tenure rights to land, poor populations will not have access to the very basic resources that would allow them to develop and sustain their livelihoods. That is one key transformation that the 2030 Development Agenda needs to achieve. Without secure land tenure, families and communities are  vulnerable to expropriations and face in numerous challenges to access financial resources, markets and other services.  This is particularly important in the changing rural landscape in most developing  countries, which face increasing demand for land for competing uses, such as for biofuels, large-scale food production and as a safeguard against climate change.”

Visit  for more information.’ or Policy-Brief-GDWGL-Nov2015.pdf .

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Postcard from Vanuatu (post Cyclone Pam)
15th June 2015

On 13 March 2015, Vanuatu was hit by Severe Cyclone Pam. The Category 5 storm caused considerable damage to infrastructure and livelihoods across the island group – particularly the southern islands. Despite the wide-spread destruction and some delays during the initial clean-up (to clear roads and reinstate services, such as power and telecommunications), the Vanuatu Land Program was able to continue on with its planned activities.

Generating government revenue

Post cyclone, the collection of revenue will be essential to assist rebuilding activities. In Luganville, Santo, a team of staff (supported by international technical assistance) have completed the creation of a valuation zone map and valuation roll that will enable the Department of Lands to set meaningful land rents, and the Municipality to revise  council rates for the Luganville area.

Securing important records

Many of the Department of Lands paper-based records were damaged by water (caused by rain, rather than flooding) entering premises through cyclone-damaged roofs. Fortunately, the recently completed land program scanning project had digitised all of the land registry lease registers and parcel files, including these damaged documents. This experience illustrates how important it is to secure such information via scanning, particularly in countries which are vulnerable to adverse weather events and other natural disasters

The scanned images will soon be available to all Department of Lands staff and to clients who come into the department to conduct title searches through a title information system. The system, developed in collaboration with local software developers Vanuasoft, is currently undergoing user acceptance testing

Land reform

In 2014, the Government of Vanuatu introduced innovative new land laws. The Vanuatu Land Program has been supporting the implementation of the laws which are designed to place decision making in respect of land matters back with customary land owners. To ensure that customary land owners understand the new laws, the Vanuatu Land Program has been working with the Customary Land Management Office and the Department of Lands to provide community outreach and awareness about the new laws. Training has also been provided to key members of the community, including chiefs and nominated adjudicators and secretaries, on the implementation and operation of the new laws.

For more information on the Vanuatu Land program, see:

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LEI co-implements Mekong Regional Land Governance Project
16th March 2015

On 13 March 2015, the Governments of Switzerland (through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)) and Lao PDR signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreement to launch the Mekong Regional Land Governance (MRLG) Project in Lao PDR. This SDC initiative with German co-funding (starting in April 2015 through GIZ), is implemented by Land Equity International and professionals for Fair Development (Gret). The Project will support land tenure security for family farmers, especially women and ethnic groups by progressively improving land and natural resource governance in policy and practice in the Mekong Region.

On 13 March 2015, the Governments of Switzerland (through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)) and Lao PDR signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreement to launch the Mekong Regional Land Governance (MRLG) Project in Lao PDR. This SDC initiative with German co-funding (starting in April 2015 through GIZ), is implemented by Land Equity International and professionals for Fair Development (Gret). The Project will support land tenure security for family farmers, especially women and ethnic groups by progressively improving land and natural resource governance in policy and practice in the Mekong Region.

The previous granting of large-scale and long-term economic land concessions of agricultural and forest land to investors has significantly reduced the area available for family agriculture and community forestry. The practice has also reduced access to natural resources which previously contributed to food security. The loss of land tenure and use rights, environmental degradation, resettlement and limited prospects regarding alternative employment have made the situation for family farmers quite difficult.

The MRLG Project will provide a wide range of stakeholders in the land, natural resource and investment sectors with capacity building, learning, networking and regional cooperation opportunities. It aims to improve policies and policy dialogue, institutional strength and practical models that support family farmers, long term rural development and food security in the Mekong region countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV).

The MRLG Project is planned to run for eight years. The first phase (four years) has a total budget of USD9.25m.

To view a recent article on this project in the Vientiane Times (“Switzerland, Germany pledge US$12m for land governance”), see:

For more information on SDC, see:

For more information on LEI and the MRLG Project, see: and

For more information on Gret, see:

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Message from Tony Burns, Managing Director
29th January 2015

I would like to wish all LEI associates a Happy New Year. As indicated in the Newsletter, the LEI projects in Vanuatu and Mekong are doing some interesting work. Kate Fairlie is working on piloting the CoFLAS tool that we developed for GLTN in Tanzania and Lesotho. In addition we have short term assignments in Pakistan, Romania and Tanzania and a number of opportunities that we are following up. I am about to head off for a 7 week trip and we have some exciting changes to the office arrangements in Wollongong.

In October last year Kylie Anthony informed me that she wanted a change in career that would enable her to spend more time with her young family. Kylie left LEI late in December and I wish her and her family all the best for the future in their new life on the Central Coast. Kylie indicated the desire to maintain a link to LEI and an interest in short-term assignments and I know that I and a number of staff have already been talking to her. Kylie has been a key staff member for LEI and has been with us almost since LEI was set up. Kylie’s new direction leaves us with a big gap in the organisation but we have a strategy in place. Nicole Nicholson will take over some of Kylie’s responsibilities, particularly in support of the ongoing projects. We advertised for a new senior business development staff member in December and after interviews earlier this month we have made an offer to Fiona Harmsworth that has been accepted. Fiona will start with LEI in early March and we will introduce Fiona when she starts work. I am sure that Fiona will settle in well and that she will enjoy support from our wider network of associates.

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