Land management and decentralised planning

Project description

Title: Land management and decentralised planning
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Country: Laos
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Planning and Investment; Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment
Overall term: 2015 to 2017

Conducting Land Cadastral Survey Photo credit © GIZ/ Bart Verweij

In recent years, Laos has reported high economic growth rates, yet the rural population has so far derived little benefit from this. Around 70 per cent of the Lao population depend either directly or indirectly on agriculture. The awarding of large-scale concessions to investors and the lack of adequate protection for land use rights threaten the livelihoods of many subsistence producers, especially marginalised groups and women. People in rural areas do not participate in any major way in the planning and management of their own socio-economic situation, and public institutions are limited in their capacities for designing and implementing strategies to tackle poverty.

Public stakeholders are still unable to safeguard rural people’s legal rights to use and invest in land. Nor can they manage public and private investments in a way that alleviates poverty and is sustainable.

People in the rural target areas enjoy greater legal land use rights, and the management of public and private sector investments has improved.

Group of Villagers_ Photo credit © GIZ/ Bart Verweij

The Land Management and Decentralised Planning project provides policy advice on governance in the land sector and works to strengthen the systematic registration of individual and communal plots of land and to encourage the allocation of land titles. As well as supporting improvements in the quality of land investments and in decentralised development planning, the project is developing individuals’ and institutions’ capacities for pro-poor development planning and management. It is also assisting its partners by fostering dialogue between donors, the government and non-governmental organisations, and by developing land policies and laws.

Transparent and participatory development planning that takes into account current land ownership and use rights not only ensures that local people have legal security, it also endows them with broader political protection. When planning processes and ownership systems are transparent, conflicts of interest between private investments (e.g. in the form of land concessions) on the one hand and traditional, ancestral land use rights and subsistence needs on the other can be identified and resolved at an early stage.

To improve the performance of public stakeholders, the project promotes broad-based capacity development at all levels (district, provincial and national). In this multi-level approach, the three tiers of administration are encouraged to exchange information and experiences both with each another and with village residents.
Furthermore, cooperation with GIZ’s regional project on Improving Land Management in the Mekong Region, which in turn has close ties to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation’s Mekong Region Land Governance Programme, is generating a large number of potential synergies.

This project builds on the results achieved by two earlier GIZ projects: Land Management and Rural Economic Development, and the Northern Upland Integrated Rural Development Programme.

The current project comprises five components divided into three areas of activity. The first area, governance in the land sector, includes the circulation among partner organisations of suggestions for improving political guidelines, legal foundations and implementing regulations related to securing land rights. The suggestions are currently being discussed in relevant forums and, once agreement is reached, will be submitted to the government as proposals.

The second area of activity, ensuring land use rights, focuses on completing and applying the model for systematic land registration in rural areas. The project has compiled and verified land use plans and data from the two previous GIZ programmes and from other sources, and is now using this to conduct systematic land registration. The project has also contributed to the improvement of national concepts for village-level land use planning. This includes better sharing and use of data, both horizontally and vertically. For this, the project supported the creation of a national team of trainers specialised in participatory land use planning and agricultural land management. This team has since provided training for the land use planning teams in the District Office for Natural Resources and the Environment, and the District Office for Agriculture and Forestry. Regarding land registration, the project’s partner organisations received training on how to support the systematic land registration activities. Core trainers at the national and provincial levels then gave them assistance and back-up for their activities in the field. Two systematic land registration teams are now operating in each of the eight target districts. Moreover, to facilitate the move to a digital land and property registry, the project has introduced a technology package (survey devices, software, database application) and provided training in its use.

The third area of activity, decentralised development planning and quality investment promotion, focuses on developing guidelines for the adaptation of participatory development planning for use at the provincial and district levels. To this end, the project has developed a concept known as Physical Framework Development Planning, which addresses land management concerns. This will be piloted in selected districts and then integrated into the Lao planning system. Furthermore, the project is working together with government staff who have already received training in quality investment monitoring, to assess and monitor the impacts of public and private investments in the target areas. To enhance the impacts of private investments even further, the project has organised exchange days for investors and local communities to discuss the investments in question.

Conducting Land Cadastral Survey in Field_ Photo credit © GIZ/ Bart Verweij