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Review of Land Administration and Volunteered Geographic Initiatives in Sub Saharan Africa

Info: 9687 words (39 pages) Dissertation
Published: 9th Dec 2019

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Tagged: GeographyInternational Studies

Chapter 1.  Introduction

Chapter 2.  Review of Land Administration and Volunteered Geographic Initiatives in Sub Saharan Africa

2.1  Land Administration in Sub Saharan Africa

The first objective of this research is to undertake a review of land administration systems in developing countries to identify shortcomings in the design, implementation and delivery of LAS. A comprehensive literature review on land administration systems in developing countries will be conducted. The output of this objective is to examine and categorize shortcomings and issues that LAS in developing countries encounter. Eventually, a typology and list of LAS problems will be presented.

2.1.1  Land Tenure Systems in Africa

Land tenure describes the interests that the public holds over a piece of land, while interests that exist in a society are land tenure systems. A majority of developing countries mainly in Africa were under colonial rule, whose systems continue to have a major impact on how land administration issues are run. Their residual influences are still evident in post-colonial countries, like in state land and freehold land tenures practised in Botswana, Kenya and South Africa. According to Williamson (2000) colonial systems are usually not sympathetic to local systems and are relatively expensive and difficult to modify for national applications.

Legal systems put in place by colonial powers as articulated by Fourie (1998), have not been adequately adapted to accommodate local or indigenous norms. Such instances have led to countries embracing middle class or inappropriate standards often accompanied by lack of capacity in regards to technical, planning, management and administration of land (Fourie, 1998). Developing countries have different tenure systems which include state, freehold, and customary land. Focus of this study will be on customary land tenure system. Research (Kyomuhendo, 2007; Appiah, 2013; Ravnborg et al., 2013) shows that customary land tenure, has been side-lined in the past yet making up most of land mass and consisting of the larger population in most developing countries. It is characterized with poverty, insufficient documentation and poor service delivery.

2.1.2  Characteristics of Land Administration Systems in Africa

LAS are implemented with the anticipation that principles of equity, non-discrimination, efficiency, transparency, productivity and sustainability among others, may be upheld in a community. Many developing countries in Africa recognize that modernizing their cadastral systems can help facilitate better land administration (Tembo and Simela, 2004). Countries like Uganda, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Botswana, are examples of countries that have adopted modern LAS. The general consensus is that, a lack of modern cadastral systems contributes to land administration problems in developing countries especially Africa. However, African countries continue to have traditional LAS that are not effective, efficient nor transparent. Unsolved land tenure and land administration issues can result in economic and political disasters, as demonstrated by the Zimbabwe land reform in the year 2000 (Pienaar, 2009).  A lack of strategies of how modernization initiatives can be implemented has been a persistent denominator.

Implementations of LAS vary from one country to the other because of differences in cultural practices and colonial histories. The factors that drive or affect the choice of strategies adopted are many and varied, hence the need for each country to have its own strategy (Williamson, 2001). Nonetheless, strategies can be developed where many separate, well-understood, proven and generally accepted principles and concepts are utilized (Williamson, 2001). In short, valuable lessons can be learned from other countries with established systems and specific strategies developed for the country of interest. Such strategies could focus on the relationships that mankind has with land and its resources. For example, focus in urban areas could be on active land markets and informal squatter settlements, while in rural areas, it could be on customary land, social tenures, land subject to indigenous rights, and prime agricultural lands. The other consideration could be the acknowledgement that relationships to land evolve because of external forces like urbanization and sustainable development activities.

The following section is an overview of land administration efforts in some developing countries in Africa: Uganda, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Botswana. These countries have recently undertaken innovative land administration exercises and conducted participatory interventions that could be learned from. To fully understand the core processes of how a LAS of a country works, there is a need to study how it has been modelled and reformed (Williamson et al., 2010). Therefore, brief overviews of land reforms from the colonial area will be conducted for each country investigated, to provide key elements regarding the organizational structures and processes of existing LAS in each country.

However, most land tenure in Africa is outside the conventional titling system (Augustinus, 2003), and focus of new land laws has been on new forms of title and tenure. Nonetheless, it is believed that research on conventional systems can further shed light on land rights outside these systems. The assessments of the five outlined countries will be on their compositions and current public participatory activities of each country. A comparison of LAS in these countries is not meant to set one system off against another but to extract principal elements and to identify important parts where lessons can be drawn and applied in another country. Land Administration in Uganda

Uganda has three land tenure systems: a) freehold, b) leasehold, and c) customary land. The country was a British colony, hence the tenure systems outlined. These systems have been attributed as the major root cause of land problems in Uganda, as they favoured European settlers, chiefs than local citizens (Kyomuhendo, 2007). According to the author, large acres of land were allocated or reserved for settlers and chiefs, while local citizens were made squatters in their own country. Such an arrangement, over the years created social unrest in the country, which led to major land reforms that negatively affected the country’s economy (Green, 2006; Bomuhangi et al., 2011). To address these challenges, the country is in the process of investigating ways of harmonizing the various tenure systems to enable the standardization of information processing, analysis and utilization (Ravnborg et al., 2013).

Customary land tenure in Uganda, makes approximately 62% of the country and is inhabited by approximately 68% (8 million) of the population (Bruce, 2014). However, only 18% of land in the country is registered and titled (World Bank, 2012). This limited extent of formal tenure, together with a lack of credible LAS and limited incentives, constrain land-based transactions. For example, current systems have limited incentives for owners to surrender their land to the land authority for village expansion purposes. Land transactions in Uganda are further hampered by insecurity and characterized by unclear property rights, disputes and conflicts (World Bank, 2012). It has been reported by Ravnborg et al. (2013), that ambiguities and discretionary land rights administration have contributed to severe land rights insecurities and land grabbing at family levels. Uganda has long and costly land administration processes, which are not affordable to the rural poor. Therefore, current processes are undesirable to the rural poor who make most of the population.

Despite the challenges discussed, formal land registration and titling have been promoted through land reforms in Uganda. Just like other developing countries, the general belief is that they would guarantee tenure security and enhance investment in the land. Nonetheless, research in the past (Kyomuhendo, 2007; Deininger and Ali, 2008; Ravnborg et al., 2013), has indicated that land reforms have not served the rural poor. Despite their country wide implementations, the rural poor have continued to have weakened land rights. In addition, they have failed to actively engage local communities in consultations for informed decision making in land related matters (Deininger and Ali, 2008). In the political arena, some political leaders who own large masses of land are reluctant to support land reforms that aim at taxing their personal interests. This greatly disadvantages local communities as land reforms aimed at bettering their lives are either rejected or sabotaged to take longer to be implemented.

Public Participatory Initiatives in Uganda

The government of Uganda in 1995 decentralized land registration to local governments to ensure that local communities participate and democratically take part in decision making (Kyomuhendo, 2007). The decentralization process was also meant to make land registration activities quicker and cheaper, as well as easier to recognise and abide by local land rights norms. An attempt to introduce a participatory initiative in Uganda received varying degrees of success and challenges because of implementation problems (UN-Habitat, 2012). A pilot participatory project of the Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) was conducted in Mbale, Uganda in 2012 by Cities Alliance and the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG). STDM is an initiative by UN-Habitat and FIG designed to provide an alternative and affordable land information tool to document social tenure relationships that citizens have with land to strengthen tenure security, empower poor communities, and improve their livelihoods.

The main objective of the project was to pilot test the STDM and to document processes and capacity building requirements about its use and application in addressing requirements of informal and customary land tenures. Residents of the settlements were trained on the mapping approach to perform participatory enumeration of recording demographic data of other inhabitants. The expectation was that it would establish dialogue between local communities and authorities to improve tenure security, encourage inclusive planning and improve access to basic services and infrastructure within the community. The project used a satellite imagery to produce a settlement map of houses, land parcels, roads, water points, etc. using on-screen digitizing method. The spatial data collected was later linked to descriptive information about occupancy and other supporting documents (scanned images, text and photos), to produce certificate of occupancy documents for residents. As noted by UN-Habitat (2012) stakeholders and slum dwellers appreciated the significance of STDM in addressing their information requirements and its potential for larger urban development activities.

The data collected further provided a platform for communities to engage local authorities on issues like inclusive planning, request for access to basic services, negotiations of possible development activities and tenure security improvement. The success of the initiative was attributed to the successful partnerships built between relevant organizations involved and the readiness of the government and other stakeholders to embrace it: which, enhanced its acceptability by leaders and the general community. According to Antonio et al. (2014) this community mapping approach provided transparency, increased cooperation and built trust among community members to produce reliable and trustworthy data. Some challenges encountered during the project implementation included (Antonio et al., 2014): a) coordination issues within the implementation team about resource allocations which delayed project completion time, b) challenges of coordinating timing and intervention of various related projects for shared resources and mobilization purposes, and c) the need for more time for sensitizing and training of some technical stuff and citizen participants. Land Administration in Ghana

Ghana’s land tenure system, comprises of customary land, which makes 78% of the country, the state owns 20% and the remaining 2% is owned by the state and customary authorities as partnerships known as vested lands (e.g. mineral rich areas and water courses) (Steudler et al., 2010). Land related activities in Ghana are governed by two laws: a) the Lands Act for land: tenure, administration, management, surveying and mapping, and b) the Land Use Planning Act responsible for all land use related activities. Despite the laws outlined, land tenure systems have had many constraints, which led to weak LAS like (Appiah, 2013): a) conflicts in land ownership between individuals, land owning groups and the state, b) a lack of a comprehensive land policy framework, c) reliance on outdated legislation, and d) a lack of a coordinated geographic information system. Other examples cited by Abdulai (2006) include a lack of consultation, coordination and cooperation among land development agencies, which impacts negatively on service delivery. A poor implementation of the land law regarding title registration, has been reported by Sittie (2006) as one of the aspects that led to the inefficiency of the land registration system of Ghana.

Ghana practices two forms of land registration systems: the deeds and title registration system. The deeds registration system was practiced in the colonial era for registering all instruments affecting land. It was only used for purposes of evidence of which instrument was registered first and did not infer title. Deeds registrations were characterized with certain weaknesses since they were descriptive in nature and land parcels were not properly surveyed and demarcated.  Some of the challenges associated with the deeds registration system included: a) inaccurate plans which often created conflicts among land owners, b) multiple registrations of the same land parcel since registration was based on the deed and not the land, and c) inability of the system to detect multiple registrations, thus encouraging fraudulent practices by officials and conflicts amongst allottees (Sittie, 2006).

Title registration was introduced in 1986 to address challenges of the deeds registration system (Sittie, 2006). It provides accurate cadastral maps to reduce fraud, multiple registrations and to reduce litigation. Furthermore, it facilitates the publication and adjudication of conflicts. Title registrations are indefensible and can only be cancelled by the court of law, thus provide security of tenure to local communities. A Land Title Registered Law was formulated to govern the registration of all interests in customary and common law (Mitchell et al., 2008). However, it failed to minimize litigation as initially envisioned, and weaknesses of the deed system remained unsolved (Sittie, 2006). For example, current procedures allow an individual to have a deed and title for the same piece of land. This leads to insecurity and uncertainty to land registration since it encourages corruption practices.

Public Participatory Initiatives in Ghana

Current land administration, management and conflict resolution activities in rural areas of Ghana are conducted by Customary Land Secretariats (CLS), which comprise of local people led by traditional leaders (Byamugisha, 2013). The initiative was meant to encourage locally based forums to manage and resolve land disputes. However, the success of CLS has been hampered by lack of interest from the local community, corrupt practices by leaders and weak capacity, which resulted in its subsequent failure (Byamugisha, 2013). A lack of unclear definition and scope of functions of Ghana’s land authority has led to a loss in confidence by the general public on the ability of the government to protect their land rights (Sittie, 2006). This insecurity and uncertainty, has forced some community members to engage illegal private security officers known as “land guards” to protect their land rights (Abdulai, 2006). The use of land guards is participatory in nature, since it helps fill in gaps of the state’s inability to secure property rights in the absence of effective alternatives in the country. The role of land guards is to physically guard and secure land parcels of owners from unlawful access and occupancy. Nonetheless, the government has declared their engagement illegal since they are violent and intimidating (Obeng-Odoom, 2014). Despite the declaration, Obeng-Odoom (2014) argues that people continue to utilise their services because they have a significant amount of utility to them.

Fortunately, land registration laws in Ghana allow the use of general boundaries for first registration activities, which provides an opportunity for participatory mapping activities, while fixed boundaries are only required for subsequent registration processes (Ghana Land Act, 1986). A study conducted by Asiama et al. (2017) used a participatory initiative in the Nanton region, of Ghana in 2016 to map and document farmlands in the area, where all the land is held under customary tenure. The land registration in the area is a deeds system which does not consider the survey or mapping of land parcel boundaries when registering land but descriptive data. Current land management activities are conducted by Customary Land Secretariat (CLS) which comprises of local people who assist with the management of the lands.

The study examined how participatory land administration could fit into customary land administration to support responsible land consolidation. Two data collection methods were compared in the study: a) a mobile phone app to collect boundary and attributes information of land parcels, and b) a printed orthophoto for farmers to trace land parcel boundaries of their farms with red markers. The two technologies are appropriate for producing Fit for Purpose (FFP) land information capable for use in administering land in rural areas of developing countries (Lemmen et al., 2009; Bennett et al., 2015; Dyli et al., 2016). It was concluded that the mobile app was more appropriate for capturing farm boundaries since it was easy to use and required little training compared to the satellite image process (Asiama et al., 2017). Even though the study did not undertake the actual land consolidation with the data collected, it concluded that the participatory initiative enabled the capture of all customary lands rights and other relevant information necessary for land consolidation. Land Administration in Kenya

Before colonial rule, land in Kenya was owned communally: it belonged to the community as a collective and was controlled by traditional leaders. However, this changed when the colonial government introduced title deeds and individual ownership of land. According to Siriba and Mwenda (2013), individual ownership arrangements decreased agricultural production over the years since they marginalized areas where only prime lands were reserved for the white minority. This reduction was due to the majority population unable to produce large amounts of agricultural produce to meet the needs of the country. Kenya has three land tenure systems: a) private – 20%, b) public – 10%, and c) customary – 70% tenure systems (Njuguna and Baya, 2001). Private land is held by individuals, private companies and co-operative societies and is usually referred to as freehold land in other countries. Public land is like state land in other countries and comprises of urban areas, game reserves, national parks, and protected areas, while customary land is held by local authorities on behalf of citizens. The country has a decentralized government system which consists of National and County governments, and customary land falls under the latter with approximately 75% of the population (Kameri-Mbote, 2005).

Around 35% of land rights are registered in Kenya (World Bank, 2012). Land administration in the country is characterized by expensive, undemocratic practices that are prone to abuse, and result in excessive delays and injustices (Siriba and Mwenda, 2013). Such instances further provide opportunities for malpractices and corruption. Other weaknesses cited by Wayumba (2013), include: a) complex and highly centralized bureaucratic administrative structures, b) duplicative and slow cadastral processes, and c) lack of proper guidelines for application and calibration of GPS technologies. In realizing that a centralized system was not efficient, the county in 2012 instituted a study by the Institute of Surveyors of Kenya (ISK) to provide a suitable model for land administration (Siriba and Mwenda, 2013). Recommendations of the study were that the central government will: a) decentralize its processes to local governments to work closely with local communities, and b) transfer its decision making and implementation powers, functions, responsibilities and resources to local governments (Siriba and Mwenda, 2013).

The underlying logic of decentralization is that local institutions can have better access to information to effectively allocate resources and respond to local needs and aspirations. However, unclear roles of local and traditional authorities, together with undefined future sustainability measures of the initiative have been a challenge to the country (Bruce, 2014). For example, the sustainability of LAS, among other factors, depends on the willingness of land owners to actively participate in updating the system with current information. This renders it relevant for use for many applications. Unfortunately, it has not been the case with current systems in Kenya, hence being outdated and irrelevant (Wayumba, 2013).

Public Participatory Initiatives in Kenya

Kenya recently introduced a Community Land Bill that recognizes and supports the registration of community land rights and management of community land (Community Land Act, 2015). The bill advocates the engagement of the public in documenting, mapping and developing an inventory of community land. It further stresses that the engagements shall be carried out in a transparent, cost effective and participatory manner such that it creates awareness on community land rights.

Public participation to ensure that there is accurate and up-to-date content in the land register is evident in Kenya, especially in informal settlements (slums) and customary land. In the past, the country engaged local communities to establish general boundaries of their land parcels by planting hedges with guidance from demarcation officers: it was known as the general boundary system (Ondulo and Kalande, 2006). According to the authors, it was implemented in 1959 to speed up land registration in Native Reserves as indigenous people had not received any title since 1903 when the cadastral system was introduced. Once the hedges had grown sufficiently, aerial photographs of the area were taken to generate Preliminary Index Diagrams (PIDs) (Wayumba, 2013). PIDs are tracings of land parcels from aerial photographs, which serve as interim cadastral data for agricultural land. General boundaries once found accurate and acceptable by the District Survey Office, were used to prepare land titles at the District Land Registrar Office, which still comprise majority of index map sheets in Kenya (Wayumba, 2013).

Recently, a participatory FFP approach to land administration was conducted in Makueni county, in 2017 by the Dutch cadastre, Institution of Surveyors in Kenya, The Kenyan Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning, local governments in close collaborations with software developers (Ambani et al., 2017). The objective of the activity was to register people to land relationships, where villagers were engaged to collect data in the field by walking perimeters of their land parcels with a GPS antenna. To boost community involvement, village elders and leaders were informed to ensure awareness and buy-in by all parties involved.

In Kenya an attempt was made in the past to uphold customary land tenure as well as to formalize informal land administration arrangements by the Kenya Informal Settlement Improvement Project (KISIP) (Siriba and Dalyot, 2015). KISIP is a community-based mapping project by Kenyan municipalities. Its main objectives are to upgrade slums in Kenya by improving tenure security of the local community. As noted by Siriba and Dalyot (2015), KISIP has adopted STDM procedures to engage the local community and their representatives to collect data of their local area. Moreover, it engaged government agencies in the mapping process, which gave the data collected some degree of formality and legitimacy. Another participatory initiative was conducted in Kibera (one of the largest slums in Kenya) in 2009 to empower inhabitants of the slum in Nairobi, Kenya (Panek and Sobotova, 2015). The project engaged citizens to record data, news reports, map information about their community, which was used to illustrate the living conditions of local communities in the area. Furthermore, the information was used to influence policy and development by advocating for their needs (Haklay et al., 2014). Land Administration in South Africa

South Africa has had one of the extreme examples of land ownership inequality in Sub Saharan countries, which has been the major source of conflict in terms of race relations and economic injustice (Byamugisha, 2014). Its land tenure and administration systems have been subject to racial and gender discrimination, as well as exclusion of groups and communities during the apartheid era. Such instances had criminalized land tenure and established very strict and severe anti-squatting measures for certain racial groups (Pienaar, 2009). Efforts to rectify the discriminatory systems were introduced by the 1991 Land Reform, which abolished some of the racially based apartheid legislation like land markets and agricultural holdings that favoured the white minority (Kitchin and Ovens, 2013). During the apartheid regime, many citizens in rural areas had only temporary permits to occupy land without secure land rights. However, in 1998 a land reform to address land related challenges like temporary permits was established (Pienaar, 2009).

Communal land in South Africa makes about 14% of the country and less than 10% of it, is formally registered (Kitchin and Ovens, 2013). Most of it is inhabited by poverty struck citizens whose land rights are generally unclear or contested. According to Bosch (2003), more than two thirds (71%) of South Africa’s land is commercial farms. Communal land is inhabited by 13 million black Africans while commercial farms comprise only 60 000 mainly white owners (Lahiff and Li, 2014). Land conflicts are prevalent in communal areas, which usually are from labour tenants who do not own the land and eviction of illegal occupiers. The remaining 15% of the country is urban land and conflicts here usually arise because of tenure rights and illegal occupation of land.

Communal land tenure in South Africa suffers from uncertainty over rights caused by legal pluralisms (unique cultural identities and different social interests), and weak legal statuses (Lavigne, 1999). The country has multiple arbitration authorities at customary and state level which causes problems for land adjudication: locally determined rules can be over-ruled by state laws in the court of law, resulting in contradictory findings and eventual conflicts escalation. South Africa has a land tenure legislation called the ‘Prevention of Illegal Eviction and Unlawful Occupation of Land Act of 1998’ (PIE) (Adams and Palmer, 2007). The legislation was developed to recognise informal and communal systems caused by the apartheid regime. It protects informal land rights of tenants, squatters, lessees, destitutes and individuals in rural communities with insecure land rights or had been disposed by apartheid land measures.

Public Participatory Initiatives in South Africa

South Africa, as stressed by Byamugisha (2014) needs a stronger involvement of citizens and civil society in sensitizing and improving the bargaining capacity of beneficiaries. An approach to land registration that actively involves the community, local institutions and simple registration systems is supported by the South African government (Adams and Palmer, 2007). For example, the PIE law has provided security of tenure to informal inhabitants, who in turn have developed confidence to actively engage and invest in land related activities in their area (Kahanovitz, 2007). According to the author, it has further created an environment where citizens are aware of their land rights and able to assert and protect them where necessary. Nonetheless, Cousins (2009), argues that the PIE law has several challenges that the rich exploit to their advantage for corrupt practices. For example, there are many reported incidents where the rich unlawfully evicted residents without following correct procedures of obtaining a court order or considering the legal protections as accorded by the law (Muller, 2011).

The South African government recognizes public input and participation in land administration. For example, it has established land administration committees (LAC) in rural areas to create and maintain tenure security in local communities. LAC comprise of democratically elected community members and a traditional council recognized by the community, to establish and maintain community land registers of all inhabitants (Pienaar, 2009). As emphasized by Pienaar (2009) communal land cannot be disposed of by the LAC without informed and democratic decisions of the community. This shows that public input and consensus are recognized and practiced in rural areas of the country. However, Kitchin and Ovens (2013) argue that meaningful public participation in comprehensive processes is rare in rural areas because of the scarcity of public reports and absence of rural land development policies. Land policies provide guidelines about the effective and efficient utilization, administration and management of land and its resources. Lahiff and Li (2014) contend that civil society organizations and citizens should be given greater roles in land acquisitions, planning and community project implementations, since previous activities headed by state agencies and consultants often produced poor outcomes. Moreover, they highlighted the importance and requirement of flexible, less formal systems as these would provide accurate indications of the level of demand for land and deliver appropriate and sustainable land reform projects.

In 2005, the Association for Rural Development (AFRA) conducted a participatory mapping project termed ‘Piloting of Local Administration of Records – PILAR’ in Ekurhuleni to secure tenure and improve the quality of life of the rural poor. It adopted a ‘general boundary’ participatory mapping approach using a large-scale aerial photograph (1:2000) to identify and document land rights in the area. The information received was adjudicated by the public for consensus building and later integrated with other spatial tools to update the local land register. Land Administration in Botswana

Botswana has a well-organized land policy and supporting legislation (Adams and Palmer, 2007). However, its failure to recognise customary land uses like hunter-gatherers has led to a loss of land of indigenous people. For example, in 2002, there was a removal of Basarwa (Bushmen) from their ancestral land in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve to pave way for mining activities. Other land uses unrecognised by modern systems include informal settlements, cultural ceremonial sites, old burial sites, and grazing land for cattle headers. This has led to a loss of communal land rights of poor cattle owners to wealthy townspeople and foreigners for use as commercial farm lands. Unfortunately, Botswana has not yet developed alternative means of protecting land rights of the poor in both peri-urban and rural areas (Nkambwe and Totolo, 2005; Clover and Eriksen, 2009). Hence, there is a void that affects a range of key decisions regarding land registration in these areas.

Customary land makes about 71% of the country and about 10% of it is recorded in official land records (Augustinus and da Passano, 2010). Therefore, a large proportion of the country is undocumented and cannot be used by the rural poor to improve security of tenure and increase their investments in the land, despite being the major source of welfare. Land information is limited in many rural areas in Botswana, because of the expensive exercise that land administration is in the country. The country does not have an adequate provision for the capture of new and existing land rights, which has led to poor land administration and management (Nkwae, 2008). This is a challenge that prior initiatives like the Tribal Land Information Management Systems (TLIMS), were introduced to address.

TLIMS was established in 2002 by the government to enable Land Boards to process and manage tribal land records electronically. This land inventory depends on complex computing systems that are difficult to maintain, especially in rural areas where there are limited infrastructures and qualified staff (Tembo and Simela, 2004). In such situations, paper-based solutions have been found adequate (UN-Habitat, 2010), even though duplication of efforts may be difficult to control and data integration near impossible. Land inventories are designed to enable easy migration and integration of data in computer systems to reduce duplication of effort thus saving unnecessary expenses. TLIMS was designed to facilitate data sharing between Land Boards and other government departments for better administration and management of land and its resources. However, it proved cumbersome over the years, due to lack of expertise and capacity which led to its subsequent failure and abandonment (Maphale and Phalaagae, 2012).

Public Participatory Initiatives in Botswana

Botswana is regarded as a leader in innovative land administration in Southern and Eastern Africa (Bruce, 2009). However, it still suffers from an inability to actively engage its citizens in land administration issues. The country does not have any policies that guide public participation in land related activities. Therefore, the public is relegated to becoming spectators in their own communities while most of the work is performed by technocrats in government departments and private agencies. The limited public participation activities are only done through consultations in relation to village planning activities in Kgotla meetings.  A Kgotla is a public meeting area, community council or traditional law court, usually referred to as a customary court. It is headed by the village chief or ward headman, and community decisions are consensus-based.

Land Boards currently engage community leaders as intermediaries with the public in land acquisition and consultative meetings. Public participation has the potential to increase local community awareness to land related matters and to better manage their land. However, Land Boards do not have well defined procedures to actively engage local communities. Other impediments of public participation include a lack of: a) public awareness and education on the importance and significance of their local knowledge, b) participatory and reporting platforms, c) capacity of administrators, land surveyors and technical officers, and d) affordable and high-speed Internet. Other challenges that limit Land Boards to carry out their responsibilities are financial, technical, administrative, logistical and other resources which have been under-estimated by the central government (Nkwae, 2008). Land Boards do not have functional land information systems to adequately administer land records (Nkwae, 2008). Therefore, in areas with limited records, they rely on the knowledge of community leaders for information about land occupation an ownership.

Typology of Land Administration Challenges in Developing Countries

This section discusses a typology of land administration challenges faced by developing countries in their efforts to recognize, map and document informal settlements, and customary land. Furthermore, it highlights challenges encountered by these countries to conduct participatory enumeration initiatives to improve security of tenure and welfare of citizens, especially the poor and underprivileged. These challenges are as follows:

– Despite making the large proportion of land in the countries investigated (except South Africa), customary land is the most undocumented yet inhabited by a larger population. A lack of documentation exposes residents to social ills like poverty, discrimination, crime and homelessness.

– A lack of appreciation of social and customary tenure arrangements by colonial systems, have led to many land conflicts, while land reforms to address the challenges have not provided the anticipated security of tenure for citizens in the countries investigated.

– The reservation of prime agricultural land to European settlers, elites and leaders, while leaving poor fields to local farmers has contributed immensely to poor agricultural production and subsequent poverty, as seen in most developing countries, like Kenya and Botswana.

– The failure of land reforms in the past, like in Uganda and Kenya, have been attributed to the lack of consultations and engagement of local communities for buy-in, informed decision making and to understand social tenures on the ground.

– Despite conventional LAS developed with sound intentions, limited capacities and insufficient infrastructures at national and municipal levels can lead to their subsequent failure, as evidenced with TLIMS in Botswana.

– A lack of scope and unclear definition of functions in a LAS can lead to a loss of confidence by the public on the ability of the government to protect their land rights. As a result, residents can resolve to illegal activities like the use of land guards in Ghana to protect their land rights.

– The long and costly processes of registering land in developing countries are major hindrance for citizens to secure their tenure through registering their land.

A lack of scope and unclear definition of functions in a LAS can lead to a loss of confidence by the public on the ability of the government to protect their land rights. As a result, residents can resolve to illegal activities like the use of land guards in Ghana to protect their land rights.

– Complex and highly centralized bureaucratic LAS, excessive delays and injustices provide opportunities for malpractices and corruption.

– Reliance on paper-based system due to the failures of complex computerized systems can lead to duplication of efforts, lack of data integration and multiple allocations as evidenced in Botswana.

– The weak legal institutions associated with communal land, like the multiple arbitration authority levels in South Africa can cause problems for land adjudications and escalate conflicts, when resolutions cannot be achieved within a sufficient amount of time.

– Even though many developing countries have decentralized their LA activities, Cousins (2009) argues that it is inefficient on its own, since it does not resolve the issue of authority and representation at community level.

– Even though consensus based decision making is encouraged in community mapping initiatives, it suffers from a lack of accountability from community members, which can affect community development and incite disputes when communities cannot reach a consensus.

– Community mapping can bring out latent conflicts (De Gessa, 2008), hence sufficient dispute mediation measures are necessary for all stages of planning, execution and implementation.

– The high cost of surveying communal land is prohibitive and its effectiveness as a basis for functional decentralized LAS for the capital-poor residents remains debatable (Rugege, 2005).


This section has discussed land administration activities in developing countries, particularly community mapping that uses spatial technologies and participatory enumeration to support and advance land rights agenda for rural communities. Furthermore, the successes and challenges of these initiatives to improve tenure security, build cohesion and advocacy for local communities in informal and customary lands have been discussed. Lastly, it has presented an overall typology and list of LAS problems affecting developing countries, especially in Africa. Most land tenure in Africa was adopted from colonial rule and these have played a major impact in how land administration issues are currently executed. However, the legal systems put in place by colonial powers did not adequately accommodate indigenous norms, resulting in the side-lining of customary land despite its vastness and the larger population it accommodates. Thus, customary land is characterized with poverty, insufficient documentation, conflicts and poor service delivery. To address this challenge, developing countries have attempted to establish participatory mapping initiatives that can consider social tenures and customary land that had been side-lined by colonial systems to improve livelihoods of citizens.

The success of a participatory mapping initiative can be measured by its capability to: a) engage community members at all stages of mapping and documenting their land rights, b) identify, adjudicate and register land in informal and customary land (De Gessa, 2008), c) use efficient and affordable tools understood by the community to produce required results, d) improve security of tenure for residents either by producing land rights documents recognized by official systems or using the information to establish dialogue between officials and residents for land use planning and management purposes (Asiama et al., 2017), and e) reduce land disputes and provide support for conflict resolution measures (Coalition, 2006). The overall objective of a participatory initiative is to contribute to an increased security of tenure, inclusive management, more transparent LAS for a sustainable development of a settlement with improved living conditions for all residents especially the poor and underprivileged (UN-Habitat and GLTN, 2010).

The formalization of informal and customary land is unavoidable in the current globalizing world. As discussed in the study, traditional systems are incapable of addressing various tenure systems especially those in rural areas. Such a challenge can be addressed by extending current registration systems to have components that handle informal and communal land tenure systems (Pienaar, 2009). For example, community mapping initiatives can be introduced to improve security of tenure, provide capacity, awareness and sustainable means of documenting informal and customary land. However, such an extension can also increase their complexity, which then requires proper research on how it can be implemented for the benefit of local communities.

The failure of developing countries to adopt appropriate land policies remains a primary cause of inequity and poverty in local communities. Transparency in land related matters also remains a challenge for developing countries, despite being a critical component of a well-functioning LAS (UN-Habitat and ITC, 2008). This results in the scarcity of clear and credible public information on the availability of land, transactions, land rights and policies, which gives room for corruption and fraudulent activities. Transparency encourages public participatory activities and stakeholder accountability since it renders public scrutiny and decision making more accessible. In turn, it strengthens confidence in official systems by the public.

A participatory land administration can enable democratic governance of land where issues of efficiency, transparency, accountability, and inclusiveness are upheld. However, there are fears among authorities as seen in Ghana and South Africa that participatory mapping processes might reinforce existing forms of informal tenure. Participatory initiatives should be viewed as grass-roots activities that aim to empower local communities for better land access and tenure security. They can be important tools to increase that capacity of local citizens to advocate, lobby, plan, manage, and sufficiently monitor community development activities. As highlighted by UN-Habitat (2012) STDM is a promising approach for even areas where records exist already and tenure security not threatened, but where there are limited resources like in Botswana.


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