News

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Message from our Managing Director
13th June 2019

We have been a bit quiet communicating with you this year after a very busy start juggling bids, projects and trying to fit in a mini-Australian summer break. It’s great to be re-emerging. John and his team on the MRLG project have five strategic work plans approved catapulting a range of actions with partners in each project country. Tony has been touching down in numerous cities this year supporting a number World Bank consultancies, including presenting at the final Land PPP consultation in Vienna 14-15th May. (I encourage you to follow us on LinkedIn for the latest on Land PPPs update with LEI).

Most excitingly, we warmly congratulate our Land Administration Specialist, Kate Fairlie for the double delivery of her Masters degree AND bouncing baby boy! Kate was awarded an MSc in Sustainable Urban Development with Distinction from the University of Oxford, with baby Tristan helping her out at the ceremony. Kate returns to us at our headquarters in Wollongong, working three days per week. Welcome back Kate!

Upon Kate’s return we held our annual planning session which was great moment to reflect and plan forwards. We touched on the importance of collective thought and allowing time and space to nurture and create ideas in the busy work and family life that we all take on here at LEI. As a strong forecast and targets were agreed, we look forward to continuing to bring quality and vitality to our consultants, clients and partners alike.

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Meeting with Riau Governor during PMAP7 project inception

Participatory Land Use Planning: lessons 1 year on
13th June 2019

Just over a year ago LEI submitted its final report for the last of three participatory mapping and planning projects completed for the Green Prosperity project’s Participatory Land Use Planning activity in Indonesia. The Participatory Mapping and Planning project (PMaP) sub-activities compiled new and existing spatial information into a WebGIS (aka province and district-level information management systems – IMS) to support spatial planning and natural resource licensing enforcement. New modalities such as IMS, standardised spatial data, trained government officials and the established spatial data forums helped the province and targeted districts to meet national agenda, to implement One Map Policy.

The former Governor of Riau, Mr. Arsyadjuliandi Rachman, earlier this year commented on the value of the information management system for increasing certainty and improving citizen and investor access to information:

"PMaP7 has supported Riau to build a grand and important system where spatial planning becomes the commander in development planning. With the support of spatial planning and standardised spatial data in line with the One Map Policy, land use and licensing overlaps can be avoided. Spatial planning can support the investment, by ensuring the certainty of land supported by information systems that can be accessed by the public including the investors.”

We are delighted to hear that our consultants are still being called/consulted to help their counterparts in Riau with some technical troubleshooting, invited back for presentations, and formally consulted for ongoing training. It is real recognition that the project value did not simply expire at project completion. This one-year anniversary provides an opportunity for us to reflect on some of the key lessons from our extensive experience over the life of the PMaP projects. We’ve selected three key lessons below that relate specifically to local stakeholders and building local capacity within projects, sourced from our final reporting:

Relationship building is everyone’s duty.
It’s not enough to have a Stakeholder Engagement officer and a Relationship Manager; all staff have a role in building relationships. Our PMaP7 team spent considerable time building relationships with everybody having roles to play, from the GIS technicians running on-the-job-training through to the planners and project leadership team. 

    • Embedding technical staff within district offices was a specific relationship-building strategy we used. These staff quickly proved useful to the district-level governments – the key beneficiaries – through technical support and mentoring. They also proved an invaluable ‘ear-on-the-ground' to aid quick training or database design adaptations and to identify sustaining champions.
    • Targets - the ‘who’ - of relationship building should be individual or whole-agency champions who can achieve ‘quick-wins’ during implementation and support sustainability post-completion. Strengthened relationship with both executive and legislative institutions enabled the influence to local policy through the issuance of local government regulations and decrees.

User needs take precedence over technical standards.
We get it. Technical standards are essential for governments and professional bodies to regulate. But sometimes unworkable technical standards arise from false interpretations of government guidelines. Our lesson is to prioritise usability – particularly in the case of novice users – and to keep the project objective front of mind.

    • This might mean reviewing how technical standards are applied at both national agency and district government levels and creating a graduated standard. In the first instance, we enabled a technical standard review by establishing linkages among general users and enabling them to use the WebGIS as a platform for information exchange.
    • Where technical standards cannot be reviewed/amended, Standard Operating Procedures can build novice knowledge by documenting how (and why) technical standards are being met.
    • Moving forward, we’d like to see trainings adopt a more practical design to focus on operational tasks for spatial planning and licensing processes. In addition to making trainings more targeted, this may further highlight local-scale technical standard needs.

Effective capacity building is strategic, targeted, flexible and adaptable.
All the buzzwords... so what do we really mean?

    • Strategic: prepare an integrated training and mentoring program early on that meets project objectives. Review and refine this as needed (for example, better aligning trainings with operating processes).
    • Targeted: identify key project beneficiaries and enablers and ensure training and mentoring are designed to be meaningful for them, as well as including senior authority to raise awareness and support of technical matters.  
    • Flexible: ensure activities fit within attendee schedules and specific needs. This could include on-the-job-training, but this needs careful planning, flexibility and a variety of approaches. On-the-job-training should dovetail with workshops and other formal trainings. Including local university students in on-the-job-training also proved successful.
    • Adaptable: look for sustainable, multi-use opportunities through scale and add-ons – including actions like establishing GIS User groups and spatial data forums that, with the right support, can be self-sustaining and driven by users.

All so simple, right? We’ll be documenting these and other key thematic lessons on our website and LinkedIn page – as we keep these front-of-mind in our day-to-day operational activities, in Indonesia and internationally.

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RCSD pic 2

Summer School success for land issues in the Mekong
13th June 2019

Interest in joining the Summer School on Mekong Land Relations increased almost three-fold this year.  We wish all the participants an informative and motivating week-long session from 14th-19th July 2019 in Chiang Mai, Thailand. To think that only 2 years ago, 130 people were applying for the 24 places on offer, and now more than 320 have applied. We at LEI are very proud of our enthusiastic and dedicated partners at RCSD, the University of Chiang Mai’s Regional Centre for Social Science and Sustainable Development, for persisting and encouraging young academics to engage in the difficult discussion space of land issues in the Mekong, in particular land and forest tenure security.

Empowering colleagues in the Mekong region to support tenure security, particularly smallholder farmers, is being realised through the ongoing partnership between the Mekong Region Land Governance (MRLG) Project and RCSD. In 2015, RCSD became an active partner to the MRLG project, and since then, joint activities and initiatives by RCSD have raised awareness on the importance of land tenure. A number of platforms are offered by RCSD for regional academic and broader thematic discussions, including an online repository of land-related publications, regular news announcements, hosting of conferences, a sponsored international Masters degree with land specialisation, and the re-vitalised ‘Summer School’ for research in land governance.

The land-focused, week-long Summer School was first offered June 2016 in Thai language, then again in July 2017 in English language to attract a broader regional cohort from the 6 Mekong countries. It was designed specifically to equip early-career academic and advocacy-oriented researchers with key concepts, access to existing research outputs, and knowledge of current land issues across the Mekong. It aims to strengthen individual and networked research that is oriented to more inclusive land governance and secure access to land amongst the region’s rural and urban poor.

The positive response to the 2017 course demonstrated the regional need for such a training. It coincided nicely with other young academic initiatives happening in the region, including the GIZ and RCSD academic sessions held during the MRLG-convened Regional Land Forums in 2016 and 2018. The overwhelming number of applications for the 2019 Summer School, is indicative of the work of MRLG, RCSD and the academic network in broadening the land discussion circle to the regional level.

Beyond the Summer School, MRLG continues to build academic and research capacity in the region by providing supportive funding for students studying under RCSD’s Masters program. Three full-time Masters students, two from Myanmar and one from Vietnam, are currently funded to study local land governance issues, two of whom are expected to graduate in June 2019 with an International Master’s in Social Sciences (Development Studies). In early June, RCSD also selected 4 new students for scholarships to the two-year Masters programme (3 from Myanmar, 1 from Cambodia). A pleasing 17 students applied for the scholarships towards the specialisation in land, which is high by Chiang Mai University standards.

The Mekong Region Land Governance Project is a mandated project by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation to Land Equity International. LEI implement the project in collaboration with Gret. LEI’s Director, John Meadows, is the in-country Team Leader. Follow MRLG on Facebook or www.mrlg.org

For further information on the Summer School follow the Mekong Summer School Facebook page or email the Mekong Land Research Forum via: mekonglandforum@gmail.com.

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ILMS pic

International Land Measurement Standards published
13th June 2019

LEI is pleased to see the First Edition of the International Land Measurement Standard published – find it here [https://ilmsc.org/the-standard/].

ILMS is an international principle-based standard for land and property information, seeking to reduce risk in land and real property surveying and promote better land governance, robust conveyancing, secure lending and land registration. In this first edition, the International Land Measurement Standard focuses on the information required for due diligence for land and real property surveying.

The ILMS sets a standard for assembling land information that can be applied consistently across projects, local, regional, state, national or international scales. ILMS provides a due diligence structure for the collection and collation of land and real property surveying information. It has been designed to be applicable for both data rich and data poor environments. Furthermore, the standards are able to incorporate all types of tenure arrangements and acknowledge various rights related to a land parcel.

Prior to leaving on maternity leave, Kate Fairlie was an active member of the Standard Setting Committee (SSC). Congratulations to all those involved on the achievement, and we’re looking forward to seeing the ILMS adopted in practice.

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