Picture with Fatherland Front

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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Message from Tony Burns, Managing Director
5th May 2017

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

During the last few months, there has been a flurry of activity – touched with much sadness and joy. In December, we said goodbye to a long-term friend and colleague – Chris Grant – who passed away suddenly. Chris was one of the four LEI founders. He was a former senior land administration executive (Surveyor General and Chair Land Surveyors Licensing Board) in the public sector and had over 40 years’ experience in his field. He worked at BHP Engineering and Hatch Associates with me prior to LEI commencing operations. Chris had significant experience in designing, implementing and directing large-scale land titling/land administration projects involving multi-disciplinary teams of national and international specialists in numerous developing countries. He was conversant with the political, social and economic impact of land administration reform programs in developing and post-conflict countries. And, he was acutely aware of the cultural sensitivities surrounding land tenure and the challenge of balancing development agendas with the recognition and preservation of customary rights to land. His well-developed team building, coordination and liaison skills enabled him to successfully deliver outcomes in donor-funded land administration projects in many tough locations. Chris was highly-regarded in the field, and an all-round authentic nice person. He will be greatly missed.

We are excited to report that LEI currently has three projects running in Indonesia – funded by the World Bank and Millennium Challenge Account-Indonesia (MCA-I). Key personnel have provided an update on these projects.

LEI was awarded the 12-month One Map Technical Assistance (TA) project, which commenced in early February with Neil Pullar as Team Leader. After having wrapped up the MCA-I-funded Participatory Mapping and Planning Sub-Activity Project No. 2 (PMaP2) at the end of February, LEI has since been awarded the PMaP7 contract. PMaP7 is a similar style of project to PMaP2 and PMaP3, but located in Riau Province. Most PMaP2 staff have now joined PMaP7 which commenced in April with Paul Harris as Team Leader. PMaP3 continues to make progress.  

Our Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project has also been doing great things. It recently supported a thematic study that was presented at a workshop for indigenous youth in Cambodia. Young people came together to build knowledge of key issues and share experiences which will benefit them later on should they find themselves working with key land stakeholders. Our MRLG Team Leader for that project, Kate Rickersey, has just returned to Australia temporarily to welcome her new baby into the world. John Meadows has taken over the Team Leader role while Kate in on leave.

Kate Fairlie and I have now completed our latest work in Ethiopia with the World Bank. This culminated in a presentation at the Land and Poverty Conference 2017 in Washington. John Meadows presented on the Vanuatu Land Program and representatives from the MRLG project also attended and presented on key areas of interest.

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One Map TA Indonesia Newsletter

LEI wins World Bank-funded One Map TA contract in Indonesia
5th May 2017

LEI has secured the Technical Assistance and Capacity Development for the Program Preparation to Operationalize and Accelerate the One Map Policy (One Map TA project). This 12-month TA project commenced in February 2017. It aims to support One Map Policy (OMP) implementation and strengthen the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) through the early completion of OMP coverage across all of Indonesia.

The One Map TA project will support the Government of Indonesia to:

  • define procedures and guidelines for OMP implementation
  • enhance access to geospatial data and services
  • compile data on existing concessions and licences
  • verify data on state lands and integrate state land data into the overall land administration system
  • produce fit-for-purpose geospatial data – especially  in support of improved land management and governance, including the protection of natural resources
  • facilitate participatory community mapping and the incorporation of this mapping into OMP
  • pilot OMP implementation processes, and
  • implement appropriate project management and monitoring for OMP.

Project outputs include:

  1. An analysis of the regulatory system, standards, formats and data sharing policies for the One Map framework and NSDI framework
  2. An analysis of the state/communal/other land designation and registration system
  3. An analysis of participatory village land use mapping methodologies
  4. Preparation of the OMP Operationalisation and Acceleration investment lending operation, and
  5. Capacity building among government agencies to implement the OMP.

For more information, see

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Map examples from

Breaking investment barriers through One Map Policy in Indonesia
5th May 2017

“Due to the drop in revenue from oil and gas (Migas) and plantation commodities such as palm oil and rubber, the economic growth of Riau in 2016 is only 2.23%. Therefore the Riau provincial government has to think and work hard to improve growth by creating an investment-friendly environment … this includes ensuring information (spatial data and permits) are up-to-date, accurate and accessible for public consumption through one door.”

Gubernur Riau, Arsyadjuliandi Rachman

Spatial planning and One Map Policy in Indonesia

Spatial planning has a strategic position in Indonesia: it is a key instrument for establishing and sustaining government long- and medium-term plans (RPJP and RPJM) for national and regional development, promoting rational spatial organisation of land uses and reconciling competing policy goals. It aims to balance demands for development with the need to protect the environment and to achieve social and economic objectives.

Why is the One Map Policy (OMP) important? Reliable, accurate and up-to-date spatial information is essential for spatial planning. The development of such authoritative geo-spatial information currently faces issues such as map discrepancies due to the absence of standards for data classification, geo-database format and a range of geo-spatial reference systems. These problems make it difficult for policy makers to integrate maps generated from the related ministries and agencies. For this reason, the OMP is urgently required to avoid map conflicts and ensure all thematic maps comply with the same standards.

In February 2016, President Joko Widodo issued Presidential Decree No 9 Year 2016 on the OMP to speed up the implementation and production of a single, integrated, nationwide database of various political and economic information by 2019. This OMP will be implemented at the national and local levels. It is expected that land disputes – rampant for decades as a consequence of unreliable and inconsistent maps and data – can be reduced. From an economic perspective, the policy is also expected to stimulate and accelerate investment growth in Indonesia.

Riau’s pending spatial planning status impacts investment opportunities

Until now, Riau Province has not regulated its Regional Spatial Plans (RTRW) and this situation has seriously affected the investment environment. Investors from national and local levels are discouraged by the absence of local regulation (Perda) of RTRW and are reluctant to invest. The stagnation leads to low rates of economic growth.

“The extension of previous permits and the issuance of new investment permits have a number of significant challenges now, including Building Permits (IMB). This permit stagnation is not only occurring at the provincial and district levels, but also nationally where the central government is also unable to issue investment permits in all districts of Riau.”

Secretary of Bappeda Riau Province, Supriyadi

Riau Governor, Arsyadjuliandi Rachman, in his briefing to Land Equity International (LEI) on 6 April 2017 stated that one of the priorities of the provincial and district government is to ensure that the spatial planning process will only use the same basic map. For that reason, the implementation of OMP is a must and cannot be postponed in Riau and all districts. He also confirmed that there is a significant need for capacity building support to improve the capacity of human resources to manage and implement the OMP.

Through the support of Participatory Mapping and Planning Sub-Activity Project No. 7 (PMaP7), managed by LEI and funded by Millennium Challenge Account-Indonesia (MCA-I), OMP implementation in Riau Province (five districts) can be accelerated. The PMaP7 project will support building local government capacity in spatial planning at the province level and in the districts of Pelalawan, Kampar, Kuantan Singingi, Rokan Hulu and Rokan Hilir.

One Data One Map (SDSP): Learning from West Nusa Tenggara

Although PMaP7 only recently commenced in Riau on 13 April 2017, LEI has successful previous experiences in supporting the West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) Government to implement its OMP, called NTB One Data One Map (NTB SDSP). Through this experience, we learnt that the problems facing the Riau Government have also been experienced by the NTB Provincial Government.

Presently, the NTB SDSP is fully functional with one geo-portal that facilitates the integration of thematic geo-spatial information from various agencies and that can be accessed by the general public, including local/national investors. A geo-spatial working group was established by Governor Decree (SK Gubernur) and coordinated agencies to develop the standards for thematic mapping and geo-spatial data formats for geographic information system application. With the funding allocation from local government, the working group continues to increase its capacity periodically.

The NTB SDSP is timely for encouraging investment. One example is the national tourism program that is now receiving investment in NTB through the Special Economic Zone (KEK) Mandalika in Central Lombok.

A number of examples of maps from NTB showing boundaries, weather and climate, average daily relative humidity, drainage network and patterns, etc. can be accessed through the following link:

The map examples above are sourced from - a PMaP/MCA-I initiative within the wider Green Prosperity Program – “…aimed at representing the spatial information of the local area that combines modern cartographic technology with participatory methods”.

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Focus Group Discussion to form a Geospatial Information Task Force in Kolaka District Southeast Sulawesi

Achieving local government commitment to coordinated and improved spatial and land-use planning
5th May 2017

MCA-Indonesia’s third project – Participatory Mapping and Planning Sub-Activity No. 3 (PMaP3) – focuses on eleven districts across four provinces.

The project is assisting district governments to implement the following three tasks:

  1. Acquire geo-spatial data and prepare geographic information system databases of land-use/land cover
  2. Compile and geo-reference existing and pending licences and permits for land and natural resource use, and
  3. Enhance district spatial plans through capacity building in spatial planning, enforcement and management of land use information in spatially-enabled databases.

Stakeholder participation, especially engagement with provincial and district Development Planning Agencies, is essential to ensuring task implementation with a view towards inter-agency coordination of spatial and land-use planning (and sustainability). The PMaP3 Information Management System (IMS) has been designed for improved and coordinated spatial and land-use planning at the district and provincial levels. Of particular concern, however, is the question of local government commitment to sustained participation and adequate financing for IMS implementation. Strong ownership and an understanding of a system that will fit local needs are key to a successful IMS implementation.

To ensure adequate participation by key decision makers, PMaP3 facilitated the formation of a Geospatial Information Task Force (GITF) in each of the 11 target districts and four provinces. A proposal was presented and discussed during Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) on “Geospatial Information Management by Local Governments: Challenges and Opportunities” – leading to the establishment of fifteen GITFs. These may well be viewed as a critical first step for establishing Local Geospatial Information Network Nodes that will address implementation of the national government-directed One Map Policy at the local government level. Key agency representatives in each district/province attended the FGDs, which were comprised of senior (heads) and technical staff members from local government agencies.

In some districts, GITFs are given legality and budget through a Regent or Governor Decree (Surat Keputusan Bupati/Gubernur). Achieving legality for task forces will demonstrate a high level of local government commitment in ensuring sustainability in relation to managing geospatial data and information at the local level. In addition, most districts and provinces have committed to allocating adequate budgets in support of GITF operations. In South Sulawesi province, for example, PMaP3 is working in three districts (Luwu, North Luwu and South Luwu), and each of the Bappeda (Development Planning Agency) boards have already allocated funds for this year to support the GITFs. All three districts submitted work plans and suggestions for establishing Local Geospatial Information Network Nodes.

GITF member composition and legal support is now final. Each GITF will be comprised of 7-25 individuals from key agencies, and PMaP3 will conduct focused capacity building for each task force. By the end of the project, PMaP3 expects to have at least 100 staff trained and ready to implement the spatially-based IMS in each of the districts and provinces. 

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Infographic video used to deliver key PMaP3 messages to local government and public audiences
5th May 2017

Over the past 12 months, Participatory Mapping and Planning Sub-Activity No. 3 (PMaP3) has been delivering three tasks across 11 districts in Indonesia. The following infographic video was used as part of the stakeholder management strategy to provide a comprehensive and uncomplicated overview of PMaP3 to target audiences. It shows how the program was developed to address the problem of land use and space – a result of long-term poor planning and overlaps in spatial information management. 

Related to the One Map Policy, a national government priority, PMaP3 encouraged various stakeholders to play an active role in managing district mapping and planning. Since the program involved the technical aspects of district spatial planning in PMaP3 target areas where there were limited human resources, the infographic video was designed to deliver simple and comprehensive key messages on what PMaP3 has been doing to date. Although mainly intended for local government personnel (as the main implementers), the video may also be useful to other audiences.

The video has been played during closed meetings with district and provincial government agencies, at trainings and workshops, and during coordination meetings with various stakeholders (eg international non-government organisations, community leaders, etc). To date it has been well received. Approximately 1,900 people have attended these sessions to date.

Click here to view the video.


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Indigenous youth networks share findings on recognition of customary tenure in Cambodia

Recognising customary tenure in Cambodia: Workshop aims to increase youth understanding
5th May 2017

Indigenous youths in Cambodia were provided an opportunity to discuss the current situation of land tenure insecurity in relation to indigenous peoples (IP). The national Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Organization (CIPO) held a workshop in December 2016 to facilitate information and experience sharing, awareness raising and debate among young people – with the aim being that these young people would come away with a better understanding of contemporary issues faced by IPs.

The workshop was held on 10 December 2016 in Phnom Penh. Seventy-four participants (including 26 women) – represented 11 organisations. Indigenous and non-indigenous youths attended the event to expand their understanding around key issues, such as mechanisms for land conflict resolution through the court system, mechanisms for land conflict resolution through the non-court system, and tradition, culture, and IP education.

With additional support from the Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project, the workshop was expanded to include Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Alliance (CIPA) members who presented findings from a thematic study on the recognition and security of customary tenure of IPs. The findings showed that:

  • The recognition of communal land tenure of indigenous peoples in the 2001 Land Law is incomprehensive and ambiguous.
  • The 2002 Law on Forestry does not acknowledge settlements inside permanent forest reserves that pre-date both the law and the establishment of permanent forest reserves. The law recognises only user rights of the local people to access to natural resources.
  • The Law on Protected Areas recognises the tenure of existing settlements or inhabitants inside the Protected Areas, but the progress on zonation of the protected areas has been very slow – limiting the impact this protection of tenure rights can have.  

The jointly-developed study (by CIPA and the MRLG project) aimed to inform, raise awareness and encourage further discussion among attendees. To view the study, please see

In addition to enhancing and reinforcing understanding around key indigenous peoples land issues, workshops such as this prepare young people for more meaningful dialogue with concerned government institutions. These Cambodian Government institutions are key to supporting land tenure security initiatives affecting IP groups in the future.

For more information on the MRLG project, see

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WB Conference Ethiopia

From Africa to the Asia-Pacific: LEI and MRLG representatives showcase projects in Washington D.C.
5th May 2017

The World Bank annual conference on Land and Poverty (20-24 March) was bigger than ever in 2017, drawing a record 1,300 participants from around the world. This year’s theme was Responsible Land Governance—Towards an Evidence-Based Approach.

Tony Burns and Kate Fairlie from LEI presented on their recent project work in Ethiopia. See: “Establishing a Legal Cadastre for Good Governance in Ethiopia: Identifying Bottlenecks and Steps Toward Scale-Up” ( The paper sets out core findings and policy recommendations in relation to the status of current pilots being undertaken to create the urban legal cadastre, and the way forward. The work also highlights our understanding of the governance, project management and public awareness challenges associated with registering urban land in Ethiopia. Our presentation covered key limitations to scaling up systematic adjudication and registration (SAR) in urban Ethiopia, and a case study which applied a Costing and Financing Land Administration Services (CoFLAS) model to support estimation of staffing, office needs and costs to ensure that the cadastre is adequately serviced. Work to date has shown that there is significant opportunity for offices to be self-financing.

John Meadows presented on our experiences and lessons learnt on the LEI-implemented and DFAT/AusAID-funded Vanuatu Land Program (previously known as the Mama Graon – Land Program) from 2010-2015. See: “Experiences Implementing Land Reform in Vanuatu” (

During the conference, and with support from Thea Hilhorst, Tony Burns arranged a session with PS Kayandabila who was leading a group of seven officials from the Ministry of Lands Housing and Human Settlement Development in Tanzania. A range of experts with activities in Tanzania participated in the meeting. These included: Clive English, Chief of Party from the USAID-funded Land Tenure Assistance Program; Anna Locke from ODI (who designed the Land Tenure Support Program, which LEI is implementing); Frank Pichel from Cadasta; Aurélie Milledrogues from IGN International (currently working on the Integrated Land Management Information System (ILMIS) Project); Katlin Cordes from Colombia Law School; Lukasz Czerwinski from Landesa; Andy Smith, Team Leader on the Land Investment for Transformation (LIFT) project in Ethiopia; Professor Stig Enemark, Aalborg University; Chris Penrose-Buckley from DFID, and Harold Carey from USAID. Participants had a very useful experience exchange and discussion on steps that Tanzania can take to improve land administration.

This year, representatives from the Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) project drew particular attention to cross-sectoral partnerships for tenure security, the tenure needs of smallholder farmers and the opportunities presented by scrutinising land investment flows. MRLG representatives were active across all days of the conference, including preconference and masterclasses. The following MRLG activities from Lao PDR and Cambodia are examples of some of the sessions:

  • Jean-Christophe Diepart (MRLG): Author and Presenter of “They Will Need Land! The current land tenure situation and future land allocation needs of smallholder farmers in Cambodia”. See Jean-Christophe’s work estimated that a significant amount of additional agricultural land may be required for smallholder farmers in Cambodia up to 2030, as rural population growth is anticipated to outstrip the economic transition away from agriculture in the short term. With this in mind, he suggested a clear priority to coordinate land reform processes across the country, to minimise rent seeking and conflict, as well as to better support rural livelihoods.
  • Justine Sylvester (VFI) and Phouvong Phaophongsavath (MPI): Authors/presenters of “Experiences of Agribusiness Investments in Lao PDR”. See and Their presentation – part of a discussion about whether agribusiness investment can enhance local welfare – underscored the benefits of multi-sector collaboration between and among governments, private sector and civil society organisations.
  • Natalie Bugalski (IDI):  Master Class session (supported by Marita Cisneros (MRLG)) on: “Follow the Money – Accountability Hub” – a MRLG-sponsored Innovation Fund (IF) project. See and Follow the Money is based on a project that has received MRLG funding through our IF Grant Facility over the past 18 months. Natalie ran a hands-on session with participants guided in the process of tracing investment flows to land development projects, identifying investor pressure points and developing an advocacy plan with the aim of providing support to communities impacted by harmful investment projects.

The full conference schedule can be viewed at:

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