News

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Land Titling Project Comes to an End in Lao PDR
1st December 2009

As LEI’s successful and committed team of national and international staff close project operations of Phase 2 on the Lao Land Titling Project we reflect on the impact of over 15 years of donor assistance.

When the first mission of design experts gathered in Vientiane in 1994 they had an enormous task ahead of them, creating land market mechanisms that will strengthen the economic platform in an emerging market economy. This strategy was met with signifi cant constraints, including, minimal basic land administration systems in operation, addressing the limited capacity and resources within the Lao PDR government, and appreciating the benefi ciary capacity to engage in land registration. In light of this, the project has managed to achieve the following key outputs (Table 1) simultaneously with signifi cant efforts reforming policies and laws.

 

Prior to Project 1995

End Project 2009

↑ Government revenue from land transactions

  • 1996: 749 million (kip)
  • 2009: 16,640 million (kip)
  • 22 fold increase
 

↑ Government capacity

  • 19 DOL staff
  • More than 900 staff trained in adjudication, valuation, registration, surveying and mapping, community education services 
 

Institution strengthened

  • Limited to no capacity or  resources at Provincial level
  • Constructed 9 Provincial Land Offices
  • Fully trained office staff in 14 Provinces and 20 systematic adjudication teams (20 people per team).
 

↑ Tenure security

  • Land titles out of date or issued with limited rights (Certificates)
  • 550,000 land titles issued
 

↑ Education opportunities

  • No land administration courses
  • Higher Diploma for Land Administration and Surveying; Diploma in Valuation
 

 

While key partners and political will supporting the project has fl uctuated over the years it is clearly evident that the project objectives to
improve tenure security, institutional capacity and increased revenue have been met. Technical advice provided through the AusAID funded component, managed by LEI, provided approximately 650 months of technical advisor inputs, with a 40/60 split between international and national advisors. Strategic partnerships throughout the project were key elements of effective implementation, particularly partnerships with the National Geographic Department for geodetic control, the Polytechnic College for diploma level education and the Lao Women’s Union providing community and gender specifi c education and services.


In leaving the current implementing agency, the National Land Management Agency, the project leaves in place a well-functioning system for issuing land titles and dealing with subsequent transactions, a computerised registration and valuation system, a fully trained and resourced cadastral surveying unit with accompanying decentralized teams, standard operating manuals and service standards, and a national monitoring and evaluation system. As land titling initiatives under NLMA take on new challenges expanding to rural and upland areas it will be critical that the social and environmental safeguards which were well developed during project implementation remain high on the agenda.

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Yemen
1st December 2009

Following on from LEI’s successful implementation of the West Bank Gaza National Land Policy Framework project, LEI were awarded another World Bank funded contract focusing on land policy - ‘Consulting Services for Strengthening Land Management’ in Yemen.  LEI have mobilised a team of experts to support the Government of Yemen using a highly consultative process to develop a shared land policy vision that provides overall direction for the administration, management and development of land.

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Palestine Land Policy Papers Online
1st December 2009

The Ministry of Planning, Palestine, have recently made available eight key land policy reports from the National Land Policy Framework project completed by LEI in 2008. These papers focus on the situation and recommendations for land registration, land markets, valuation, public land management, education, legislation, institutional arrangements and land disputes. A testament to the consultative approach and openness in developing this framework, the Ministry of Planning has made the policy papers publicly available on the following website: http://www.mop-gov.ps (under the heading Projects).LCIS with links to the textual database for GIS analysis.

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LEI Supports Young Professionals in Laos
1st December 2009

Hello, my name is Mark Williams. For those that don’t know me I am the latest in a long line of Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) volunteering on the Lao Land Titling Project II.  I am a GIS/IT Officer and within my 8 months here in Laos, have been working on a variety of projects with a range of organisations. These include the analysis of Land Use change over 10 years within Vientiane for a GTZ funded research project, conduct training on quality checking the digital cadastre as well as training the trainers at the Polytechnic College in GIS so they will be able to teach it as part of a module within their new Land Administration Degree.

 We conduct 2 lessons a week for one and a half hours each time with this being split between theory and practical. The lessons have been conducted in English with our National Education and VIS Advisor, Mr Soukasem, translating into Lao. We are teaching approx 8 staff in GIS (including the Vice Director of the College, Mr Bounthanom) with 2 people taking the teaching duties of the module at the completion. Once the training has fi nished Mr Soukasem and I - in collaboration with the Polytechnic College - will collate, translate and produce a syllabus for the GIS module of the Degree. The GIS module will run for approximately 20 weeks with the focus being on Land Administration.
The training of the trainers has been a very rewarding and challenging experience. Having never taught before as well as my first introduction to development work it was/is a little daunting, however as I like to say – if you don’t look up you never see how far you have to climb! It is a fantastic opportunity, something that I have enjoyed immensely and I look forward to seeing the results further down the track.

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The Gender Agenda
1st October 2008

This short article is written to raise awareness on the ever present theme of gender and the making of inroads towards positive social development by Kate Dalrymple.  After a pleasing response to the Laos Community Education and Gender Lessons presentation made at the Knowledge Sharing Workshop, I’m following up with some general discussion for practitioners in our industry to consider. Conveniently, this coincides with the Global Land Tools Network (www.gltn.net) forum discussion on genderresponsive land tools (Sept 8 – Oct 15, 2008) which I encourage you all to visit.

The Issue
Issues of access to land, food and tenure security largely underpin social and economic development necessary to reduce poverty. Disproportionately these issues have been shown to affect women and their dependent families. Gender inequities are often embedded in traditional social practices, cultural regimes, and rudimentary policy and legal frameworks. It is crucial that efforts to achieve the millennium development goals address both equality and equity issues simultaneously. This is echoed in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which was effected by the United Nations General Assembly in 1981. The effects of inadequately addressing implications of inequality, starting with gender, can cause serious long term burdens on families, communities and governments.


Land Administration Response
Land administration programs have the potential to improve gender equality in development through widespread community participation programs, grassroots level empowerment and equal opportunity. Essential to land administration programs are the efforts to improve accessibility of formal systems to women by strengthening and allowing tenure security of land leases and joint or individual recording of rights (recording male and/or female names). In addition to outreach facilities strengthening the legal framework of inheritance and family laws to protect vulnerable groups such as women are mechanisms for empowering women and improving their decision making power both within and outside the household.


Individual Efforts
It is essential that gender considerations remain at the forefront of decisions and advice. The most important input from development assistance personnel is to ensure the gender dimension of an issue has been explored and women are engaged as conclusions are reached. Actively preparing for gendered discussions is the onus of every development practitioner. It requires no new skills, no new technology, and comes at no extra costs. It does require time and understanding. Extra time may be needed to delve into some gender focussed literature. By having a greater understanding of issues one ultimately saves time through better focussed question. Bringing gender into your matrix of issues and checklist of indicators and just ensuring gender implications are considered in designs, advice or reviews will contribute to more sustainable and socially responsible outcomes. There is a gender specialist in all of us that will ensure sustainable and appropriate solutions, and continual improvements for keeping gender on the agenda.

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LAMP II Philippines Update
1st October 2008

LEI has had some good news over the last quarter with AusAID advising of their intention to extend the contract for two years to complete the 5 year commitment of development assistance to LAMPII. This will see LAMP II continue till January 2011. Over the past few months there has been significant progress in the valuation and Innovation Support Fund components of LAMP II as well as good movement on all four reform Bills in the Congress especially the RESA valuation professionalization Bill and the Free Patent Amendment to the Public Land Act. Speaker of the House, Hon. Prospero Nograles at the opening of the second regular session on 28 July stated that the Free Patent Bill is being fast tracked “to convert more of our land resources to productive capital”. The amendments would allow urban lands to be titled at low cost and suitable for mass titling. A major policy proposal for a revision of the land related taxes was completed and the Department of Finance created a inter office committee to study the report and make recommendations.

Valuation progressed on the market based valuations with Naga City leading the way with a new general revision of schedule of market values completed and ready for the 2009 real property tax collections. The methods are a model for other LGUs. Of importance the Bureau of Internal Revenue agreed to adopt the same market based schedule of market values thus providing a single valuation base for both local and national land related taxes. The project has developed software for a sales and building costs data base and the system was deployed to Naga and Iloilo assessor’s offices. The development of the Philippines’ first set of valuation standards progressed well with the first 8 of the 24 planned standards being exposed in workshops across the country. The standards are consistent with the IVS standard.

All 10 Innovation Support Fund partner local governments in land administration and management reform continued the implementation of their projects with good results in the first 12 months. All five large grantees received major equipment purchases through the technical assistance team with a focus on spatial data management with GIS systems linked with assessor office real property tax systems for tax collection and town planning applications. An external evaluation of the facility was commenced to feed into the planning of AusAID in its possible future engagement with local government.


Education strategies on both valuation and land administration and management were successfully completed and partnership agreements (MOU) are being negotiated. The one-stop-shop for land services at Leyte saw an intensive period of application development with coding and testing of Land Administration and Management System Phase 3 underway. The Provincial Project Implementation Office in Leyte transferred three of the four field teams to new municipalities in the south west of the Province and began land titling operations. Two new municipalities were also commenced in Bohol Province and in Bukidnon Province preparations are well advanced for commencement of land titling in the new year 2009.

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Land Equity International—Europe (Skopje – Macedonia)
1st October 2008

The LEI Europe office is continuously serving local customers in Macedonia (individual, municipalities and companies) in providing survey and cadastre services, as well as looking for consulting opportunities in the Balkan region, central Asia and Middle East. Recently, the LEI Europe office, with big support from LEI office in Wollongong, sent several Expressions of Interest (EOI) to the Land Administration projects in Yemen, Azerbaijan, Macedonia and Serbia, and has been short listed for the projects in Yemen and Serbia.

The Project Manager Jacquie Besgrove visited the office in Skopje from 21 June to 3 July, where she helped the manager to setup the quality system in the office and the staff to understand the LEI business.


LEI Europe office was active in establishing a professional local consultancy network relationship with the strategic partner companies in the region. LEI Europe moved from the old office to a new office space, to be near its second office (x Geomap office) and the Skopje Cadastre office. The changes were essential for developing the business. LEI Europe is aiming to find a unique space for the office staff near the Cadastre office.


One member of our staff Miss Ratka Yakimovska left us, to join her husband in the USA, all staff wish her good luck in her future life. Our office administrator Mr. Stoyan Mihaylovski takes over Ratka’s responsibilities in the office. Due to our local activities, we have won and signed some year base contracts, with municipality Butel (part of Skopje), with Cosmofon (mobile phones company), Veterinary Agency and other customers.

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Message from the Managing Director
1st October 2008

After a busy first 8 months of the year, much of the time spent on the road, I have had a couple of months back in the office. This has enabled me to catch up with a few loose ends. In August we finalised our annual plan for 2008/09 and presented this to the LEI Group board. For the first time we prepared an annual budget with the plan, no small challenge, as well as detailed strategies for Illawarra Education Solutions (IES) and LEI Europe. The plan was approved by the board and discussed in a staff workshop on 9 September.

On August 14 we had our very successful Knowledge Sharing Workshop in Canberra. The workshop program was focussed, with a comprehensive set of topical presentations and active participation by the attendees. A number of people subsequently commented on how well things went. I personally enjoyed the day as it was a good opportunity to catch up with many of our senior associates and others active in the industry. I would like to thank all the staff involved in arranging the workshop, particularly Kylie, Rebecca, Ciara and Jacqui. For those of you who missed the day, the presentations for the workshop are on our website.


The support and active involvement of a relatively small group of key consultants has been a key factor in our success. In 2007 we formalised a Senior Associates group, and in September we undertook a review of how this program was going, based on feedback from the Senior Associates and a meeting in September with Kevin Nettle. Some changes were made, including an arrangement to keep Senior Associates informed on a monthly basis of the opportunities that we were tracking. Andrew Dyson and Steve McFadzean have recently signed on as Senior Associates and I welcome their continued involvement in the business.


LEI’s two major projects, the Land Titling II Project in Laos and LAMP II in the Philippines, are at critical stages. We have just finalized with AusAID a contract extension of the project in Laos through to June 2009. AusAID also advised us in the past few weeks that they want to extend the contract in the Philippines through to early 2011. This is good news as these two projects provide a platform for the business. Chris Lunnay is currently finishing an assignment for NZAID in Vanuatu and is planning to complete the assignment for AusAID in PNG early next year. IES currently has projects in Kiribati and Indonesia and has been busy putting together bids for a range of clients including AusAID, ADB and MCC. Two weeks ago IES submitted a major bid for AusAID Education Resource Facility and was recently advised that they were short-listed for the ADB TA TVET project in Cambodia.


Kate Dalrymple and I are trying to finish the next stage of the governance study, trying to finalize with Klaus Deininger in the World Bank the methodology and questionnaires and prepare for a workshop with our country case coordinators in Athens in early November that is timed to coincide with the 13th International Anti-Corruption Conference that is being organised by Transparency International in Athens in late October. The key outcome from our workshop will be refined questionnaires ready for implementation in the five countries. For more information, please visit our website.

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Property Rights & Land Titling Project, Lao PDR Update
1st October 2008

Since our last newsletter, AusAID has approved the restructure of the technical assistance team, which will see all our national adviser positions extended up to the official end of AusAID’s Phase 2, in November 2008. t also permits some additional international cadastral inputs, to help the TA team to finalise its capacity-building program. AusAID has also approved the proposal for an extension of technical assistance to June 2009, to correspond with the official end of the World Bank Phase 2. This will permit in additional infusion of TA resources to help NLMA and the Department of Lands continue the expansion of land titling into the final three provinces and to plan for the expanded use of computer applications in systematic adjudication teams and land offices. In this regard, a significant recent development is the establishment of a Land Records Management Technical Working Group, which will review the 10- year computerisation plan and ensure a rational computerisation strategy across the departments of NLMA.

October will see several personnel changes on the Lao project. Steve McFadzean will be finishing up as team leader, and the qualities and energy he brought to the position will be missed by all. Steve will remain on the project to assist the NLMA in the preparation of two key reports which will assist the donors in determining if there is to be support for a project extension beyond June 2009. The new team leader will be Andre Hernandez, who has had extensive experience in land administration projects, including approximately three years on Phase 1 of this project. We will welcome the return of Kate Dalrymple for a short- term input in CES, and the new Australian Youth Ambassador Mark Williams, who will be bringing his GIS skills to assist the NLMA in its computerisation strategy. George Collett recently completed a short-term assignment on M&E, and his reports have provided valuable direction for future M&E activities. Daniel Carter and David McDowell will continue in their respective positions of Cadastral Survey Adviser and Land Registration Adviser. Provided by David McDowell

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Dili Office after Renovations web

Strengthening Property Rights Timor-Leste
1st October 2008

LEI is supporting the US company ARD in implementing a USAID-funded project aimed at addressing property rights and land tenure issues in Timor Leste. Land tenure has experienced a rather tenuous history in Timor-Leste. Formerly known as East Timor, the country was occupied as a colony of Portugal for some 450 years, experienced three years of Japanese occupation during WW2, some twenty five years of Indonesian occupation following its first attempts at independence late 1975, through to formal acceptance of independence in May 2002. During each of these occupations, some property rights were granted. However, since independence, no property rights have been issued and no former rights are recognised, as no land law under the new Government yet exist.

The five-year programme Strengthening Property Rights Timor-Leste (SPRTL) or “Ita Nia Rai” (Our Land) aims to map all land claims in Timor-Leste. Parallel to the SPRTL project, the Government of Timor-Leste is reviewing its land registration requirements and developing legislation to support its land reform requirements. The project is being run with the cooperation of the Ministry of Justice and the National Directorate for Land, Property, Survey and Cadastre. The hope is that by clarifying land boundaries and ownerships and providing supporting legislation, there will be fewer disputes and legal land sales can take place, leading to a more stable economic and social climate, as well as increased national and regional development.

A land claims process has been developed to identify and record land property claims. This will be undertaken by field inspection and collection of claims data in Field Offices. The emphasis in regard to boundary identification and recording of land claims is on ensuring that claimants and neighbours agree on the location of their common boundaries and that those boundaries are permanently and visibly marked by appropriate physical objects or features. Disagreements over boundary positions will be addressed, and if not able to be resolved at the time of field inspection, will be recorded for subsequent mediation and dispute resolution. The field teams will enter the collected claims data into a centralised Land Claims Information System (LCIS). The property or parcel data collected will be entered into a Spatial Claims Data Base (SCDB). The SCDB is a component within the LCIS with links to the textual database for GIS analysis.


The project identifies a great deal of public involvement and participation aimed at getting maximum exposure and to facilitate transparency of the claims recording process. The results of the land claims investigations will be announced nationally and lists and maps of claims displayed at specified locations. This will allow for wide examination of the results while national announcement will provide information for other interested parties. During public display, the community will be requested to check the displayed results and indicate their confirmation if the data is correct or object if they did not agree. There will be an opportunity of submitting further claims during this period. During the entire process, the recorded data will be maintained to update records for any changes to the claimed ownership, such as through transfer, inheritance or land division.  Provided by Allan Wilson

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