News

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Building Resiliance to Climate Change
31st July 2012

The United Nations 2009 Global Report on Disaster Risk Reduction ranked the Philippines as the third most-disaster-prone country globally, as witnessed during two typhoons in 2009 which caused $1 billion of infrastructure damage in Metro Manila and loss of life.

To assist the Government of Philippines, AusAID has established the project Building the Resilience and Awareness of Metro Manila Communities to Natural Disasters and Climate Change Impacts Program (BRACE).

LEI's Philippines affiliate, Land Equity Technology Services (LETS), in partnership with a local urban planning and land use management firm - CONCEP, was recently awarded the AusAID Preparatory Phase Architectural and Engineering project for BRACE. This is a 12 month project based in Taguig City in Metro Manila. The preparatory phase project will prepare designs for housing for the poor who are located in disaster prone areas of the City; prepare a financing model to make the project sustainable, and prepare the land management component concerned with strengthening the City for better planning and use of land resources.

Our project strengths are founded on our experience improving land administration systems working previously with local government units in the Philippines, and developing innovative partnership arrangements with national agencies. We were also able to build capacity and design systems that led to vast enhancements in local government land information systems and GIS technology capability to support core functions of revenue generation, land use planning and now critical tasks of disaster risk management.
For more information contact: Ms Lulu Reyes, LETS General Manager.

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Systematic Registration in Romania
24th July 2012

LEI's Managing Director recently visited Romania as an adviser on the World Bank Implementation Support Mission of the CESAR Project ñ it looked more like a holiday destination?! Hidden among the beauty of Saxon fortified churches, treasured villages, and lush green pastures of Romania, lies the CESAR project with cadastral, public awareness and notary public issues hindering the completion of 0.7 million hectares of systematic registration.

Romania is one of the few countries in ECA to implement a full systematic registration process with public display. The process is being undertaken by contractors with government officials providing extensive checking of the field results prior to the public display. In this checking the officials are attempting to reconcile issues such as discrepancies between the parcel areas mentioned in prior deeds and documents and areas measured in the field, as well as issues related to succession for every immoveable (parcel). Despite this extensive quality oversight, complaints in the first district (UAT), Valea Mare during the public display period were made against nearly 50% of all immoveables. With a total of about 10,600 immoveables surveyed and adjudicated, there were nearly 400 complaints which involved 5,459 immoveables. This result highlights the relative importance of prior checking and the validation in the public display.


There are other issues that have impacted on the work, including a change in the Civil Code that has made systematic registration an even more complex process. An extra step has been included in the process to enforce the registration of succession which requires a notarial deed and the payment of a tax levied by the Ministry of Finance. This immediately stalled the registration process. These issues are not too unfamiliar with many other systematic registration projects, and all need to be carefully negotiated during roll out among all the stakeholders. The Missions are a good opportunity to help resolve project bottlenecks and in the case of Romania soon after the mission, Parliament had already made changes to key legislation to address a number of the issues.

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Preparing for future investors, Samoa
17th July 2012

LEI are currently working with the Ministry of Natural Resources & Environment (MNRE) in Samoa through World Bank funding to implement the 2009 Unit Titles Act. The Unit Titles Act, the first of its kind in Samoa, was introduced to promote investment in property development in Samoa. LEI are providing a small consultancy team to establish clear and comprehensive administrative mechanisms and regulations to support the enacted legislation.

The team of registration, legal, survey and IT experts completed the first phase in March 2012 and this month are completing the second phase of the project. The MNRE have been working closely alongside the LEI team, playing an effective role in facilitating more than 12 stakeholder meetings. These ëquestion, answers and feedbackí sessions were part of the stakeholder engagement process to explain the enactment of the Unit Titles law. Representatives from government departments (including MNRE, Attorney Generalís Office, Planning, Works Transport and Infrastructure), private sector surveyors, lending institutions, valuers, the law society and members of the chamber of commerce attended these sessions.


In addition to consultations and training workshops, the team and MNRE counterparts have:

  •  Prepared an implementation strategy to implement the Unit Titles Act.
  •  Reviewed the Unit Titles Act and a draft amendment Bill.
  •  Drafted regulations that now await the Attorney Generals approval.
  •  Reviewed the survey processes and prepared and trained surveyors in procedures and guidelines to up-skill the Public and Private sector surveyors in Unit Title plan preparations.

While MNRE work simultaneously on the development of an Open Source Software Land Registration System (SOLA), our IT expert in collaboration with this team is making necessary adjustments to the existing computerized Land Registry System to ensure the seamless registration of Unit Title applications until the new SOLA system is in place.
For more information, please direct your queries to Mr John Meadows, Team Leader/ Registration Specialist.

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Understanding Land & Gender Better in Vanuatu
10th July 2012

"There is a strong positive association between women's land rights and poverty reduction; this is because women's control over land assets enhances household welfare, women's cash incomes and spending on food, children's health and education."
- United National Human Settlements Programme (2008, p.15)


There is increasing awareness that land reforms are not gender-neutral interventions. Issues around gender and land are complex. In Vanuatu access to resources is governed by both written and customary laws. In instances when conflicts exist between traditional norms and national laws, as is often the case when womenís rights are considered, local norms generally prevail and are enforced by community members. Research in Vanuatu shows that women are largely absent from both the formal and customary processes and women assert to know little about decision-making over land.

The Mama Graon Vanuatu Land Program - has a unique opportunity to challenge socially constructed attitudes and gender roles and relationships amongst men and women, boy children and girl children, and strengthen the capacity of women to participate in leadership and decision-making within customary and formal land dealings.


The Program's gender team has been facilitating a gender assessment to gain a better understanding of the situation for men and women within partner agencies and within the land sector more broadly. The impact of gender has to be considered on the basis of a specific analysis, since relationships are largely determined by local conditions and are context specific. Land reform efforts must also proceed with an understanding of the diversity in land tenure systems in Vanuatu, within provinces and between islands.

Consultations and research culminated in a program Gender Equality Strategy and Plan to guide the program and partner agencies towards equitable participation, leadership and ownership of the Mama Graon benefits.
Complementing this strategy is the recent appointment of Mr Gary Tavoa, the program's National Gender Focal Point, who will ensure a sustained approach in addressing the complex issues around gender and land in Vanuatu. Across the island locations in Vanuatu, consultations contributing to the development of the Government of Vanuatu National Gender Policy, continue to be held providing decision makers with a better understanding of the entry points for women in the customary land space, typically a very male-dominated space.


Cross-cutting issues, such as gender, often do not receive adequate resources or full engagement by land program partners, and therefore the momentum of these gender activities may well have some lessons for other projects from which to learn.


For more information on our Vanuatu activities, please contact Program Director, Mr Chris Lunnay.

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The Mama Graon Vanuatu Land Program
2nd January 2012

The Mama Graon Vanuatu Land Program, led by Program Director Chris Lunnay, made tremendous advances in strengthening customary governance in 2011. Actively working through program partners has been one of the key modalities towards effective progress.

In September 2011, a Customary Land Workshop was held by the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs during which, 19 resolutions were presented to the Minister of Justice. The resolutions are in line with wide spread beliefs to improve Kastom Governance. Resolutions were taken further afield to Tafea Province for a Provincial Workshop on Tana, and then on to the Islands for discussion with Chiefs and the people of each island. Four resolutions have been integrated into the 2012 work plans of the Island Councils for Tafea Province.


Hurdles still need to be overcome during the year to ensure there is continued program momentum. These involve adequately resourcing the Customary Land Tribunal Unit, providing further capacity development to manage land conflicts, and establishing a sustainable and effective communication strategy through the Communication Working Group. Already, working in a consultative and collaborative manner with key Program partners is proving to be of utmost importance in the effective delivery of land development in Vanuatu. The program focuses on responding to local needs and demands. It also focuses on and ownership of the objectives by partners is demonstrating success as shown by the adoption of resolutions by island council work plans. The key enabling partners of the Mama Groan Program are: Malvatumauri, National Council of Chiefs, Department of Lands, Customary Land Tribunal Unit, Vanuatu Cultural Centre, among others and donors AusAID and the New Zealand Government.

For more information, AusAID have recently published program information, and encourage you to read the Mama Graon Annual Plan: visit AusAID - Mama Graon Vanuatu Land Program.

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Urban Development Strategies to Combat Poverty in Asia
2nd January 2012

More than 1.5 billion people live in Asian cities and by 2030 at current urban growth rates, an additional 1.2 billion people will be living in cities in the region. The region is facing growing problems of access to safe drinking water, rapid population growth, reduced access to land for growing food, and climate change related problems of natural disasters and rising sea levels.

LEI with Emeritus Professor Brian Roberts, have combined our land administration and urban development expertise to spearhead urbanisation and tenure security challenges. Prof Roberts is intimately involved in leading new schools of thought on city cluster development in Asian cities. There is increasing need to develop strategies for social housing and access to land for urban populations, to avoid ever increasing poverty and emergence of slums in Asian cities.

The social and economic attractions for populations migrating to cities are not necessarily being met by employment opportunities, nor planned and affordable shelter, causing urban sprawl and a depreciation of quality of life. City cluster development focuses on the economic drivers, competitiveness of cities and their industrial productivity, balanced with environmental and socially sustainable models.

The Asian Development Bank have published this work in a book titled, Competitive Cities in the 21st Century: Cluster Based Local Economic Development, to support practitioners to analyse and create action plans for industry clusters and for using cluster-based city economic development (CCED) approaches.


Urban problems and local ownership of the solutions are key to development. Hence why LEI are involved, through our local affiliate Land Equity Technology Services (LETS) Philippines in implementing an ADB project on Local Government Revenue and Land Administration Reform.

This project assists nine Local Government Units to build their capacity to undertake reforms that will optimise their revenue results and improve overall decision making and investments. The project facilitates technical advice in property valuation, land market information, up to date spatial data on actual land parcels and improvements, local property tax policy, investment and environmental planning and revenue collection. We look forward to providing a detailed project report in the next LEI Newsletter Issue, coming July 2012.

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LEI Celebrates Expansion into Urban Management
1st December 2011

LEI recently acquired Strategic Planning and Management Services (SPMS) Pty Ltd to now offer services in urban management, urban planning and economics, complementing its core service offerings in land administration. The acquisition of SPMS engages Emeritus Professor Brian Roberts as core staff at LEI as the Senior Urban Management expert.

Professor Roberts has qualifications in land surveying, urban and regional planning, and design and business management and holds a PhD in urban and regional economic development. After several senior posts within United Nations Centre for Human Settlements, Queensland state government (Australia), two academic institutions and the consulting industry, he is committed to integrating LEIs land and project management expertise with urban sector development.

With over 30 years international consulting experience, Professor Roberts is adept in designing and managing large and complex multi-discipline projects. Consulting for ADB, AusAID, World Bank, UN, as well as direct Government assistance, he has overseen national and regional institutional reform programs; developed national urban management policies; established higher level education and training; and briefed heads of State and Ministers across various countries.

LEI look forward to drawing on Professor Roberts’ vast network and experience and integrating this with LEI’s successful undertaking of large land administration reform programs and consultancies. LEIs Managing Director, Tony Burns on the acquisition: “We anticipate this merger to significantly strengthen our service offering and competiveness to meet increasing development demands in the urban sector as well as decentralized activities at the local government level.”

LEI remain a unique, niche project management company focused on land administration reform service delivery through our highly skilled professional staff. LEI now have additional capacity to better understand and find solutions to urban management, planning and urban economic issues.

A sample of projects below demonstrates the range and global diversity of projects SPMS was previously involved in:
•    State of the Worlds Cities Report 2012, chapter on City Cluster Development, UN Habitat (2011)
•    State of Asian Cities Report, co-author of chapter on the State of the Environment of Asian Cities with CSIRO, UN Habitat (2011)
•    Toolkit Guide for Rapid Economic Assessment, Planning and Development of Cities in Asia, Asian Development Bank (2011)
•    Competitive Cities in the 21st Century: Cluster-based Local Economic Development, ADB, 2011
•    Cluster Development training program for Quang Nam Province, Vietnam, with Hansen Partnership, World Bank, (2009)
•    Development Partnership Program for South Asia - Clustered Cities Development, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, ADB (2009)
•    National Capital Region Plan 2030, Hanoi, with Hansen partnership and National Institute Urban and Regional Planning, Vietnam (2009)
•    Economics of Development for Planning, Certified Planning Course Instructor
•    Policy Note, Sustainable Economic Development Strategy for Aceh, Indonesia, World Bank, with CSIRO (2007)
•    Design Framework for Local Governance Development Program, Philippines, AusAID (2005)
•    Quality Assurance Contract for the Philippines Land Administration and Management Project, AusAID, (2001-2010)
•    Urban partnership workshops and training program for City Net, Nepal, UNUMP, 2000
•    Development of Planning Institute for Solomon Islands, RAPI, (1999)


Emeritus Professor Brian Roberts’ curriculum vitae will soon be accessible via our website, or contact Brian directly via email: broberts@landequity.com.au.

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MCA-Lesotho Land Administration Reform Project (LARP)
1st July 2011

On the 17th June LEI successfully completed the ‘design phase’ of the Systematic Land Regularisation and Improvement of Rural Land Allocation processes project. The component of the MCA-Lesotho Land Administration Reform Project (LARP) focused on the regularization of urban and peri-urban areas of Maseru, Lesotho’s capital city. On completion of activities the project team regularized over 4000 urban parcels (i.e. final adjudication and cadastral survey of each parcel) and over 5,300 rural land allocation parcels in Maseru and Berea Districts.

Land allocation involved mapping using orthophoto maps and adjudicating parcels in four participating Community Councils. To assist with future land allocations and planning procedures Councils received hardcopy and electronic copies at the Community and District Councils respectively.

Often land disputes are brought to the fore during mapping and regularization activities, however LEI did not encounter major problems. In total, the project identified only 64 dispute cases that were resolved with the assistance of the Legal Aid Advisor: 46 regularization and 18 rural allocation disputes. This is less than 1% of all parcels encountering a land dispute. The success of the project was largely due to a dedicated team integrating closely with members of the community at every step of the process. This meant ensuring clear lines protocol were followed for stakeholder engagement, and ensuring beneficiaries were prepared for the project entering target areas, they were conversant with process they would engage in, and understood the ongoing benefits and obligations as leaseholders.

Detailed Standard Operating Procedures of every step of pilot activities undertaken were handed over to the LAA to ensure effective and efficient roll out for the implementation phase. LEI are providing ongoing technical support to the recently established Land Administration Authority that, as of June 15th 2010, was mandated to administer the leasehold land tenure system among other functions. LEI will continue working alongside the LAA to ensure leases are delivered to the beneficiaries.

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Mama Graon – Vanuatu Land Program Taking Shape
1st July 2011

After initial preparatory work involving intensive consultation the key Program steering committee has been formed and has established clear functions that will assist with seeing the Program progress. In line with Land Equity International’s commitment to the principles of aid effectiveness our approach to the Program is to maximise local partnerships and encourage national appointments to our adviser team.  We strongly believe the Program should be nationally driven and led and as such we are very pleased to announce the recent appointment of Mr Russell Nari to the position of Deputy Program Director/Customary Land Adviser. Mr Nari, a ni-Vanuatu, was previously the Director General of Justice and a previous Director General of Lands. He brings a strong level of national ownership and invaluable cultural and technical understanding to program implementation.

Land Equity International’s flexible and responsive approach to our Program partners has resulted in a further initiative to bring forward the land registration activities to the first year of the Program. At the request of the Department of Lands we have revised the work plan and commenced work on improving the land registration procedures to address the backlog of thousands of unregistered land documents, some of which date back at least 10 years.  After the re-engineering of some of the land registry processes, temporary staff have been contracted to work collaboratively with the existing Land Registry staff to accelerate the processing of unregistered documents. Since mobilisation of our contract, LEI’s Program Director has worked closely with both counterparts and donors to enable flexible and mutually agreed responses which are already making positive contributions towards the Mama Graon Program.

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Gender-Equitable Governance of Land Tenure
1st July 2011

LEI Contributes to FAO Development of Guidelines on Gender-Equitable Governance of Land Tenure. In May, Dr Kate Dalrymple participated in the FAO Workshop on Gender-Equitable Governance of Land Tenure at FAO Headquarters, Rome. This was part of a series of workshops that are contributing to the development of complimentary and practical Technical Guidelines for the broader Voluntary guidelines on responsible governance of tenure of land and other natural resources (VG), due out later in 2011. This successful workshop brought together a variety of technicians and professionals from around the globe working in different fields of land governance. Represented by Government agencies, NGOs, private sector, FAO and affiliated organisations, the group compiled through practical experience, innovative gender equitable solutions for tackling the issues of land governance.

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