23 Jun 2022
Governance, Policy & Institutional Strengthening
Gender, Community & Inclusion
Posted23 Jun 2022
The LEI led webinar for ‘’Smarter Designs of Land Administration Reforms’’ we hope is a starting point for further consideration on drawing on political economy approaches in an economics and technically driven design environment for land reform.
The panel acknowledged that while land administration reform interventions often draw on a library of templated best practices; these practices have tended to underplay the messy politics that are inherent in land governance. Even when- and not surprisingly- these political forces have been powerful enough to undermine the implementation or erode the desired benefits of the reforms, engaging intentionally to ‘think and work politically’ has not been at the forefront of the design and reform approach.
The webinar, held on the 15th June, was moderated by LEI’s Managing Director, Kate Rickersey, and Tony Burns, the LEI Executive Director, Business Development gave the keynote speech followed by an expert panel discussion. Tony highlighted that there is a need to reform the current approach to land administration reform and the sector needs to seriously consider political economy issues. He acknowledges that there are key challenges in adopting a Thinking and Working Politically (TWP) approach in the land sector. These include that fact that: there are well established procedures and practices by development assistance funding agencies already in place and the TWP approach does not fit well; the recognition of property rights has traditionally been a function of government with established systems; and adopting a TWP approach to reforms has not been implemented at scale and therefore there is no evidence that the approach is significantly better than the traditional approach.
Our expert panellists, Jolyne Sanjak, Victoria Stanley and Emmanuel Nkurunziza, responded to Tony’s keynote providing clear guidance on the considerations of political economy in the design of land administration reform. All three noted that although we may not have formally considered political economy in the assessment and design of reform projects in the past, virtually all the successful projects have either a strong champion and/or a clear political strategy in place.
Jolyne Sector Director of Tenure and Property Rights at Tetra Tech ARD, made the clear point that we had many tools in place – more tools than in a garage – and that these tools included the classic rapid appraisal technique used by Roy Prosterman, De Soto’s bottom up approach and systems mapping of the formal process for property formalisation, key actor mapping and the multi-stakeholder dialogue that was being deployed by the International Land Coalition (ILC) in Sierra Leone. We have these tools and perhaps we needed a more structured approach in considering political economy.
Victoria, Senior Land Specialist at the World Bank, pointed out the difficulty experienced in the World Bank in raising political issues. The Bank uses various tools and analyses that consider politics in land administration reforms, such as risk analysis, stakeholder engagement, and legal and policy analysis. However, these technical and analytical tools are not enough in leading successful land administration reforms. It is important that the approach focuses on building coalitions in country and is adapted to the local political economy context.
Emmanuel Nkurunziza, Director General of the Regional Centre for Mapping of Resources for Development (RCMRD), noted that it was all very well to undertake an analysis of political economy, but the critical task was developing a strategy for reform that was politically aligned. Emmanuel noted that it can be critically important to have wide consultation and the formulation of a National Land Policy can be an important tool in having broad stakeholder dialogue and building of consensus. He saw from the consultation in Rwanda what sort of society the country wanted after the genocide evolved into the new constitution, and key elements of this then evolved into the land regularization program. Emmanuel also saw that pilots were a critical strategy in building consensus for key aspects of the reform prior to scaling up. He concluded his discussion by reminding us of a conversation that he had with a senior Church official who told him that he was too young to understand the deep cultural importance of land and its relationship to identity and sovereignty and that people will not compromise on their traditional relationship to land.
You can watch the recorded webinar via YouTube by following this link: Smarter Design of Land Administration Reform – YouTube
Feel free to reach out to us, and we hope to see you at another opportunity to continue this important ‘land reform design-influencing’ discussion.
In spirit of reconciliation, Land Equity International acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea, and community. We pay respects to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.