Project Design to Strengthen the Customary Lands Tribunal and the Department of Lands’ Information Technology Centre

Preparation of an Activity Design Document
Project narrative

In May 2007 NZAlD responded to a request from Department of Lands for short-term technical assistance for funding consideration to develop two proposals: (1) Customary Lands Tribunal Management Project; and (2) Lands Records Management Systems and Information Technology Centre. The project involved the preparation of an Activity Design Document to address the two proposals.

The first activity objective “A strengthened Customary Lands Tribunal consistent with the GoV's national plans” will ensure that effective mechanisms are in place in Vanuatu to resolve land disputes through appropriate means and that there is a continuing emphasis on dispute resolution through the customary processes. The second objective “A Land Information Management system that meets current and future needs and supports economic development” will ensure that the GoV through the DoL is in a position to provide land information that can be used by government and the private sector as means of improving development activities.

Description of key services provided

Assessment of the current status of the Customary Lands Tribunal (CLT) including: review of the current CLT legislation; the quality of its services; capacity to respond to service demands and identify capacity gaps. This assessment was undertaken through the analysis of key documents, consultations with key stakeholders and a review of the support provided to the CLT through the Customary Land Unit and identified support required to strengthen the capacity of the unit to manage and administer the Customary Land Tribunal Act. There was extensive consultation with key stakeholder groups including; Malvatumauri, Vanuatu National Council of Women, Department of Women’s Affairs, Vanuatu Cultural Centre, Wan Smolbag Theatre, the Vanuatu Association of NGOs (VANGO) and numerous customary groups. A key focus was on ways in which the appeals process under the current act could be simplified and the strengthening of mediation process that would enforce the preservation of customary involvement in dispute resolution processes. The assessments provided a basis for designing a project, which outlined ways to strengthen the CLT in such areas as service quality, capacity and extension of its services beyond pilot areas and in ways in which customary process could be retained as far as possible.

Assessment of the current land records management and Land Information Management (LIM) systems within the Department of Lands. This included assessing the work that has already started regarding digitalisation and computerisation of the land registration process; assessment of the current spatial data systems and processes; and assessment of the medium to long-term requirements of an effective land records LIM system in Vanuatu taking into consideration the planned reform of the sector. The need for a LIM Strategy for guiding the development of IT in the Department of Lands and for support the Vanuatu Land Policy Framework was assessed. Issues such as data exchange, IT training, mapping and imagery property valuation and computerisation of existing records were reviewed.

All activities were design so as to ensure they linked to the draft Vanuatu Land Policy Framework which will be used to coordinate future activities in the land sector.