Article of the Month -
Capacity Building for
Developing Sustainable Land Administration Infrastructures
presented at UN ECE WPLA/FIG Workshop in Athens, 28-31 May 2003:
Spatial Information Management for Sustainable Real Estate Markets and Best
Practice Guidelines on Nation-wide Land Administration.
This article in PDF-format.
Capacity building is increasingly seen as a key
component of land administration projects in developing or transition
countries undertaken by the World Bank and individual country development
assistance agencies. However, the capacity building concept is often used
within a narrow meaning such as focusing on staff development through formal
education and training programmes to meet the lack of qualified personnel in
the short term. In fact, capacity building is often used as a synonym for
human resource development.
This paper argues that even if the key focus may
be on education and training to meet short and medium term needs, capacity
building measures should be addressed in the wider context of developing
institutional infrastructures for implementing land policies in a
sustainable way. Capacity building measures must be addressed at three
levels: the societal level (policies, legal frameworks and accountability),
the organisational level (institutional infrastructures and organisational
effectiveness), and individual level (technical and professional
competencies and responsibilities). Capacity building should be seen as a
comprehensive methodology aiming to provide a sustainable outcome through
assessing and addressing a whole range of relevant issues and their
This paper aims to develop the capacity building
concept to provide some guidance in the area of introducing sustainable land
administration infrastructures. The paper also analyses the complex and
interdisciplinary nature of the land administration paradigm in order to
identify the key issues to be addressed. The paper then discusses the future
directions towards developing methodological guidelines for capacity
building in land administration.
In most developing and transition countries
there is a lack of institutional capacity to address land administration
issues in an adequate and sustainable way. Many donor projects have been
established to respond to these problems. However, responding to these
problems is not simple. This is partly due to the complex nature of the land
administration paradigm, and partly due to the lack of emphasis on long-term
capacity building measures towards developing sustainable institutional
It is generally understood that security of land
tenure, efficiency of land markets, and effectiveness of land use control
are crucial components in any land policy. The activities relies on some
form of land administration infrastructure which permits the complex range
of rights, restrictions and responsibilities to be identified, mapped and
managed as a basis for policy formulation and implementation. There are two
key aspects in building such land administration infrastructures: first the
establishment of the appropriate land administration system itself; and
secondly ensuring that there is a sustainable long-term capacity of educated
and trained personnel to operate the system in both the public and private
sectors. In many developing and transition countries this second aspect of
human resource development is the weakest link. Another weakness is the lack
of emphasis on building sustainable institutional infrastructures with clear
responsibilities of governance.
When a project is established to create land
administration infrastructures, often with the support of organisations such
as the World Bank, the United Nations or individual country aid agencies, it
is critical that capacity building is a mainstream component of the project.
The capacity building aspect should be addressed up front, not as an add-on.
In this context there is a whole range of capacity building and human
resource development principles and options to be considered.
Capacity building in land administration is a
complex issue. This article offers a conceptual understanding and some
guiding principles when working in this area.
2. CAPACITY BUILDING
The term capacity has many different meanings and
interpretations depending on who uses it and in what context. To begin with,
capacity building as a concept is closely related to education, training and
human resource development. This conventional concept has changed over
recent years towards a broader and more holistic view, covering both
institutional and country base initiatives.
The workshop on Capacity Building in Land
Administration for Developing Countries, held at ITC, The Netherlands,
November 2000 (Groot and van der Molen 2000) adopted the following
definition on capacity building: “The development of knowledge, skills and
attitudes in individuals and groups of people relevant in design,
development, management and maintenance of institutional and operational
infrastructures and processes that are locally meaningful”. This is a
broader approach while still focusing mainly on staff development.
It can be argued that the concept of Capacity
Building should be viewed in a wider context to include the ways and means
by which the overall goals are achieved. In the case of Land Administration,
education and staff development may certainly be one of these means.
However, development of institutional infrastructures (including issues such
as good governance, decentralisation, and public participation) may be even
more important. Also, the adoption of an adequate land policy framework may
be the key to get anywhere at all. It can be argued that even if the key
focus is on education and training to meet short and medium term needs,
capacity building measures should be assessed in a the wider context of
implementing land policies in a sustainable way.
A recent UN publication on Capacity Assessment
and Development (UNDP, 1998) offers this basic definition: “Capacity can be
defined as the ability of individuals and organizations or organizational
units to perform functions effectively, efficiently and sustainably.” This
definition has three important aspects: (i) it indicates that capacity is
not a passive state but is part of a continuing process; (ii) ensures that
human resources and the way in which they are utilized are central to
capacity development; and (iii) it requires that the overall context within
which organizations undertake their functions will also be a key
consideration in strategies for capacity development. Capacity is the power
of something – a system, and organisation, a person, to perform and produce
properly. In this UNDP context, capacity is seen as two-dimensional:
Capacity Assessment and Capacity Development.
Capacity Assessment or diagnosis is an essential
basis for the formulation of coherent strategies for capacity development.
This is a structured and analytical process whereby the various dimensions
of capacity are assessed within the broader systems context, as well as
evaluated for specific entities and individuals within the system.
Capacity Development is a concept which is
broader than institutional development since it includes an emphasis on the
overall system, environment and context within which individuals,
organisations and societies operate and interact. Even if the focus of
concern is a specific capacity of an organization to perform a particular
function, there must nevertheless always be a consideration of the overall
policy environment and the coherence of specific actions with macro-level
conditions. Capacity development does not, of course, imply that there is no
capacity in existence; it also includes retaining and strengthening existing
capacities of people and organisations to perform their tasks.
The OECD has defined Capacity Development as “…
the process by which individuals, groups, organisations, institutions and
societies increase their abilities to: (i) perform core functions, solve
problems, define and achieve objectives; and (ii) understand and deal with
their development needs in a broad context and in a sustainable manner.”
This definition is adopted by various donors and is fully in line with the
UN definition of capacity above.
Taking this approach, capacity, as such, is seen as a
development outcome in itself and distinct from other programme outcomes
such as technical and professional competence in certain fields. Measures
such as education and training becomes a means to an end while the end
itself is the capacity to achieve the identified development objectives over
time - such as to establish and maintain national land administration
infrastructures for sustainable development (Enemark, 2002).
3. LEVELS AND
DIMENSIONS OF CAPACITY BUILDING
The previous section has
defined the broad concept of capacity building. However, there is an
acceptance that capacity building is a much more complex activity which can
be reviewed at different levels which may include different dimensions.
Capacity is the power/ability of something – a system, and
organisation, a person, to perform and produce properly. Capacity issues can
then be addressed at three levels. These levels relate to their application
of capacity in society and have been identified as follows (UNDP, 1998):
3.1 The Broader System/Societal Level
The highest level within which capacity initiatives may be
cast is the system or enabling environment level. For development
initiatives that are national in context the system would cover the entire
country or society and all subcomponents that are involved. For initiatives
at a sectoral level, the system would include only those components that are
The dimensions of capacity at systems level may include a
number of areas such as policies, legal/regulatory framework, management and
accountability perspective, and the resources available.
3.2 The Entity/Organisational Level
An entity may be a formal organisation such as government or
one of its departments or agencies, a private sector operation,
or an informal organisation such as a community based or volunteer
organisation. At this level, successful methodologies examine all dimensions
of capacity, including its interactions within the system, other entities,
stakeholders, and clients.
The dimension of capacity at the entity level should include
areas such as mission and strategy, culture and competencies, processes,
resources (human, financial and information resources), and infrastructure.
3.3 The Group-of-People/Individual Level
This level addresses the need for individuals to function
efficiently and effectively within the entity and within the broader system.
Human Resource Development (HRD) is about assessing the capacity needs and
addressing the gaps through adequate measures of education and training.
Capacity assessment and development at this third level is considered the
The dimension of capacity at the individual level will
include the design of educational and training programs and courses to meet
the identified gaps within the skills base and number of qualified staff to
operate the systems.
Strategies for capacity assessment and development can be
focused on any level, but it is crucial that strategies are formulated on
the basis of a sound analysis of all relevant dimensions. It should also be
noted that the entry point for capacity analysis and development might vary
according to the major focus point of the project. However, it is important
to understand that capacity building is not a linear process. Whatever is
the entry point and whatever is the issue currently in focus, there may be a
need to zoom-in or zoom out in order to look at the conditions and
consequences at the upper or lower level(s). Capacity building should be
seen as a comprehensive methodology aiming to provide a sustainable outcome
through assessing and addressing a whole range of relevant issues and their
interrelationships. E.g. capacity building is crucial to enable proper
interaction between actors, to increase commitment and to over come
4. LAND ADMINISTRATION
Land administration systems are concerned with the social,
legal, economic and technical framework within which land managers and
administrators must operate (UN-ECE, 1996). Such a global approach to land
administration systems is shown in the diagram figure 1.
Land administration comprise an extensive range
of systems and processes to administer:
Land Tenure: the allocation and security of rights in lands; the legal
surveys to determine the parcel boundaries; the transfer of property or
use from one party to another through sale or lease; and the adjudication
of doubts and disputes regarding rights and parcel boundaries.
Land Value: the assessment of the value of land and properties; the
gathering of revenues through taxation; and the adjudication of land
valuation and taxation disputes.
Land Use: the control of land use through planning policies, regulations
and enforcement; the implementation of construction planning through
granting of permits; and the adjudication of land use conflicts.
Figure 1. A Global Land
Administration Perspective (Enemark, 2001).
The design of adequate systems in the area of
Land Tenure and Land Value should lead to the establishment of an efficient
land market; and the design of adequate systems in the areas of Land-Use
Control and Land Development should lead to an effective land-use
administration. The combination of an efficient land market and an effective
land-use administration should then form the basis for a sustainable
approach to economic, social and environmental development.
Within this paper, land administration is defined as the
processes of determining, recording and disseminating information about
tenure value and use of land implementing land policies (UN-ECE, 1996). It
is considered to include a core parcel based cadastral and land registration
component, multi-purposed cadastres and/or land information systems, and in
many systems facilitates or includes information on land use planning and
valuation/land taxation systems – although land administration does not
usually include the actual land use planning and land valuation processes.
systems, and particularly their core cadastral components, are an important
infrastructure, which facilitates the implementation of land policies in
both developed and developing countries (UN/FIG 1999). These systems are
concerned with the administration of land as a natural resource to ensure
its sustainable development.
The cadastral identification of land parcels permeates
through the land administration and land management systems and provides the
basic infrastructure for running the interrelated systems within the areas
of Land Tenure, Land Value, and Land Use. As a result, the traditional
surveying, mapping and land registration focus have moved away from being
primarily provider-driven to now being clearly user-driven.
The modern land administration system is
concerned with detailed information at the individual land parcel level. As
such it should service the needs of both the individual and the community at
large. The system, this way, acts as a kind of backbone in society. Benefits
arise through its application to e.g.: guarantee of ownership and security
of tenure and credit; facilitate efficient land transfers and land markets;
support management of assets; and provide basic information in processes of
physical planning, land development and environmental control. In short,
benefits arise through cadastral applications for land management in
Throughout the world, the cadastral concept has
developed significantly over the past few decades. The most recent examples
are current world concerns of environmental management, sustainable
development and social justice. Due to this, multi-purpose cadastres are
increasingly seen as fundamental to economic development, environmental
management and social stability in both the developed and developing worlds
The Bathurst Declaration (UN/FIG, 1999)
established a powerful link between appropriate land administration and
sustainable development. This should also be seen as a result of the gradual
evolution of land administration systems over time towards a more managerial
and multi-purpose role. This multi-purpose role should provide adequate
spatial information infrastructures as a basis for sustainable decision
making in all land related matters. Sustainable development is not
attainable without sound land administration.
This demand for sound land administration
infrastructures also requires support from a well-developed spatial
information infrastructure for sharing geo-referenced information. This
includes the need to adequately address conceptual and policy issues such as
data access, intellectual property, cost recovery, and design of an
efficient institutional framework.
5. BUILDING CAPACITY IN LAND ADMINISTRATION
The three levels of capacity building (the
system, the entity, and the individual level) can be considered in the
context of land administration systems as follows.
Land Administration is very much about systems
and processes – cadastral systems, land registration systems, valuation and
taxation systems, planning control systems, and the embedded processes to
carry out the tasks. The purpose of the systems is to build, identify and
ensure land rights; to build efficient land markets; and to ensure effective
and sustainable management of the use of land. Land Administration is
embedded in an overall land policy and the connected legal framework. This
is the broader system/societal level.
Secondly, Land Administration is about building
infrastructures in terms of efficient relations between the systems, and in
terms of an efficient national spatial data infrastructure. Building
infrastructures is also about developing administrative policies and good
governance. It is about building “capable government”, able to perform key
functions effectively and based on trust and clearly defined
responsibilities. This the organisational level.
Thirdly, Land Administration is about people –
from politicians, senior professionals and managers, middle managers and
administrators, to office and field personnel, - whether in public or
private sector. At the senior level a broad vision and understanding is
required. At the more practical level the players in the system need to have
some understanding of the overall system but will have much more detailed
and specific skills that need to be developed. This is the individual level.
Land Administration is a cross-sectoral and
multi-disciplinary area. It includes, technical, legal, managerial and
institutional dimensions. An adequate response in terms of capacity building
measures must reflect this basic characteristic.
However, the relationship of humankind to land
determines the form of land administration response. This relationship is
dynamic and driven by global drivers such technology development, micro
economic reform, urbanisation, globalisation, and sustainable development.
The relationship of humankind to land varies in and between countries and
regions, and adequate responses in terms of capacity building must reflect
these fundamental conditions.
For example, if a country such as Indonesia wished to have a
land administration system supported by a land title and cadastral surveying
system similar to Denmark or Australia, this could possibly require 40,000
professional land surveyors and 30 or more university programs educating
professional surveyors (based on Steudler et. al., 1997). Clearly this is
not realistic even in a medium term perspective. As a result, there is a
need to develop appropriate solutions matching the stage of development and
specific characteristics and requirements of the individual country.
6. FUTURE DIRECTIONS
The understanding provided above should be further developed
into a conceptual framework for capacity assessment and capacity development
in land administration. This may draw from some of the work within
re-engineering of land administration systems and land administration “Best
Practice” (Williamson 2001b). Such a framework is developed in the article
“Capacity Building in Land Administration – A Conceptual Approach” submitted
for publication the Journal of Land Use Policy (Enemark and Williamson,
The FAO Land Tenure Service in Rome has established a
project on developing methodological guidelines on education and training
strategies for strengthening the human capital needed for improved land
tenure policies and land administration. The project is facing the
widely stated problem of poor institutional capacity of land administration
agencies in many developing and transition countries. Responding to this
problem has not been simple for many reasons. In many cases, land
administration agencies are under-resourced: large number of posts may be
unfilled and those land administrators in service are often under-paid
compared with the private sector, lack of equipment to do their job
properly, and often lack of necessary technical and managerial skills. In
short, the challenges in building capacity in land administration are
As part of its work programme for 2002, the Land
Tenure Service of the Rural Development Division has prepared a study that
aims at providing guidance to countries on how to develop feasible and
needed strategies for capacity building in land administration. To serve as
a base, studies have been prepared on capacity building in Africa, Asia and
Central and Eastern Europe. The case studies formed the basis for a workshop
held 14-15 November 2002 at the FAO Headquarters in Rome. The objective of
the workshop was to first review the studies and take stock of the lessons
learned, and then look forward by planning the development of methodological
guidelines in this area. This work will be will be carried out in 2003 and
the guidelines will be published in the FAO Land Tenure Studies Series.
The FIG has established a joint working group with members
from commission 2 and 7 to address the issue of capacity building in land
Management. The working group is chaired by Professor Ulf Jensen, Lund
University in Sweden. The working group may be seen as a follow-up on the
workshop on Capacity Building in Land Administration for Developing
Countries held at ITC, Enchede, The Netherlands 12-15 November 2000.
The working group has developed a model to guide the work. The model is
looking at capacity analysis to identify required quantity and quality;
functions regarding the land markets, credit markets and users needs;
managerial issues such as cost recovery, IT policies, and public/private
partnerships; and operational issues such as process management,
IT-modelling, staffing, and infrastructures. When this guide for capacity
assessment is developed, the working group will make a test in a developing
and a transition country.
Arguably, many donor projects in land
administration over the last decade have a rather narrow focus on access to
land and security of land tenure. The focus has been on doing the project,
including mapping, adjudication, and registration, and on developing the
necessary capacity for managing the processes within system. The focus has
been on the individual landowners, not usually on the wider land
administration infrastructure or land policy issues. Institutional issues
have been addressed mainly as a response to this more narrow perspective. By
using a capacity building approach there should be a focus on building the
overall political basis, the infrastructure and human resources necessary
for implementing land policy reforms. The case of Malawi is a good example
of how these issues can be addressed in an integrated way. This is described
in more details in (Enemark&Ahene 2003).
Where a donor project is established to create land
administration infrastructures in developing or transition countries, it is
critical that capacity building is a main steam component that is addressed
up front, not as an add-on. In fact, such projects should be dealt with as
capacity building projects in themselves for building the institutional
capacity to meet the medium and long term needs. The conceptual
understanding of capacity building in land administration as presented in
this article must be further developed to form an analytical framework of
methodological guidelines in this area.
Enemark, S. (2001): Land Administration Infrastructures for
Sustainable Development. Property Management, Vol. 19, Number 5, pp 366-383.
and Ahene, R. (2003): Capacity Building in Land Management – Implementing
Land Policy Reforms in Malawi. Survey Review, Vol. 37, No 287, pp 20-30.
(2002): Strengthening Institutional Capacity in Land Administration -
Towards Developing Methodological Guidelines. Proceeding of FAO Workshop,
The Land Tenure Service, Rome, 14-15 November 2002.
and Williamson, I.P. (2003): Capacity Building in Land Administration – A
Conceptual Approach. Submitted April 2003 for publication in the Journal of
Land Use Policy.
Richard and Paul van der Molen, Eds (2000): Workshop on Capacity Building in
Land Administration for Developing Countries – Final Report. ITC, Enchede,
The Netherlands, 12-15 November 2000.
et. al.(1997): Benchmarking Cadastral Systems. The Australian Surveyor, Vol.
42, No. 3, pp 87-106.
Capacity Assessment and Development. Technical Advisory Paper No.3.
(1996): Land Administration Guidelines. UNECE, Geneva.
(1999): The Bathurst Declaration on Land Administration for Sustainable
Development. FIG Office, Copenhagen.
I.P. (2001a): Re-engineering Land Administration Systems for Sustainable
development – from Rhetoric to reality. International Journal of Applied
Earth Observation and Geoinformation, Vol. 3, Issue 3, 278-289.
I. (2001b): Land Administration “Best Practice” – providing the
infrastructure for land policy implementation. Journal for Land Use Policy,
Vol. 18, pp. 297-307.
Stig Enemark is Head of the School of Surveying and
Planning at Aalborg University, Denmark, where he is Professor in Problem
Based Learning and Land Management. He is Vice-President of the Danish
Association of Chartered Surveyors. He was Chairman of Commission 2
(Professional Education) of the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
1994-98. He is an Honorary Member of FIG. His teaching and research
interests are in the area of land administration systems, land management
and spatial planning. Another research area is within problem-based and
project-organised education, and the interaction between education, research
and professional practice. He has consulted and published widely within
Professor Stig Enemark
Head of School of Surveying and Planning
DK 9220 Aalborg
Tel. + 45 99 40 83 44
Fax + 45 98 15 65 41