Building Land Governance Resilience with Open and Transparent Land Data Systems | Land Portal

The COVID-19 crisis exacerbated land governance challenges, including addressing failures in land governance systems, a lack of transparency, systemic corruption, and lack of accessibility to data. It undermines development progress on global food security and has driven people into poverty, while governments take license to develop indigenous and community lands and thus fuel the climate crisis.

The Land Portal Foundation & Open data Charter have joined efforts to create an Open Up Guide on Land Governance that outlines key land governance data types, how they should be collected, stored, published for improving land governance and transparency. This session showcased evidence of how open land governance systems can be used as a tool to untangle and ameliorate the damage caused by the lack of transparency and corruption & demonstrate how open land governance systems can serve as a tool to fight poverty and increase food security.

 

Key Takeaways

  • Natalia Carfi pointed out that the guides are not only useful for the production and documentation of data, but serves as an “important focal point for advancing conversations about open data”.

  • Using the example of land value data in Uganda, Ronald Kaweesi argued that data must be institutionalized for it to form a useful part of a public and open data ecosystem system.

  • He also argued that the private and public sector must come together to improve the quality, quantity and accessibility of land value data.

  • The implication of not having data in digital formats was highlighted. The availability of data in analogue formats is often overlooked and this has a significant impact on the perceived “openness” of land data. Akbikesh stated that “land ownership data are available and kept updated, but the problem is that the data are not open to the population and also are mainly paper-based and not presented in machine-readable formats”. 

  • It is worth pointing out that while the author agrees that there is significant tenure insecurity in the region, the results of the land government indices do not adequately reflect the situation on the ground.

  • Charl-Thom Bayer pointed out that modern land administration is really about sustainable land management for increasing resilience, and that this approach is underpinned by access to good quality data and information for informed decision making.

  • Ultimately it means that improved land governance is about control and access to land in a manner that is “socially legitimate and fundamentally democratic”.

  • Key Data Types for improved Land Governance are rooted in the fundamental operational functions of land management organisations.

  • Data types must be aligned with international data policies and standards to be discoverable and to ensure interoperability.

  • It was agreed that the Open Up Guide’s are a useful tool in furthering the discussion around open data and how that can support increasing resilience and sustainability.

Summary Panelist Contributions

  1. Open land data systems can support improved land governance.

Laura Maggiolaura: Team Leader, Land Portal Foundation

The COVID-19 pandemic substantially exacerbated numerous land governance challenges, undermining decades of development progress on global food security and driving hundreds of millions of people into poverty, while governments take license to develop indigenous and community lands and thus fuel the climate crisis.

Good land governance is said to be efficient, effective and transparent, while ensuring participatory processes and outcomes that are equitable and secure. However, data and its governance are key to assessing and monitoring if this is indeed the case. In order to stem the impact of COVID-19 and these intertwined crises on land governance, land-related data and information can provide the support needed to monitor key indices, especially those related to progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) such as women’s ownership of land or perceptions of tenure security, among others. Land ownership data is consistently ranked lowest on both the Global Open Data Index and the Open Data Barometer and each year this data is highlighted as the least likely to be open.

In this context, the Land Portal Foundation and the Open data Charter have joined efforts to create an Open Up Guide on Land Governance that outlines key land governance data types, how they should be collected, stored and published for improving land governance and transparency.

 

  1. The Role of the Open Data Charter

Natalia Carfi, Interim Executive Director, Open Data Charter

The presenter highlighted the role that tools such as Open Up Guides play in improving resilience. Examples were presented from the design and implementation of Open Up Guides on Agriculture, Climate Action, Anti-Corruption and Land Governance. Natalia Carfi pointed out that the guides are not only useful for the production and documentation of data, but serves as an “important focal point for advancing conversations about open data”.
 

  1. The Open Up Guide for Land Governance

Charl-Thom Bayer, Information Management and Advocacy Consultant, Land Portal Foundation

It was stated that the Open Up Guide on Land Governance is really a tool for governments on the use and publication of strategic datasets and provides guidance on collection and release of land-related data. 

Responsible land governance is really about how the public and private actors use, control and provide access to land in a way that is socially legitimate and democratic (Borras & Franco, 2010). We have seen that the quality of land governance is directly related to the manifestation of land tenure related problems such as unequal access to land, gender discrimination, insecurity of tenure, unsustainable land use, weak institutions, land corruption and deficient dispute and conflict resolution mechanisms.

To respond to these problems modern land administration theory prioritises the management of land and associated resources for sustainable social, economic and environmental development. In association with the Open data movement having “made explicit the potential links between open data and sustainable development”, we can now use readily and freely available, timely, standardised and widely distributed open land data to monitor performance.

The Land Portal Foundation has worked to understand the data standards relevant for land governance data and explored gaps in land data standardisation. LP has also developed a methodology to assess country level land governance information ecosystems on accessibility and use. Improving resilience through open data requires “digital data that is made available with the technical and legal characteristics necessary for it to be freely used, re-used, and redistributed by anyone, anytime, anywhere”. The data must also be i) structured data for download, ii) based on common standards, iii) protected for privacy and security purposes and iv) formatted consistently for legal use locally and globally. 

Finally it was pointed out that this data needs as pointed out above must be in line with international data policies and standards in order to be interoperable and discoverable.

 

  1. Investigating the challenges of land value recordation in public land administration in Uganda

Ronald Kaweesi, Lecturer, Makerere University, Uganda

Land value capture needs to be institutionalized and this involves activities such as recordation to be institutionalized. Research discovered that the recording of land value data in the public domain is largely reliant on individual initiatives. This indicates that there is responsibility of making it open but that such accessibility relies on personal arrangements. This is evident with fellow valuers accessing information on transaction sales or past valuations.  

With institutionalized valuation data capture, we know data is available and reliable then it is easier to be published as open but still with restrictions through the different layers of accessibility. The general public and other institutions desiring much more accessibility can be brought on board with codes/licenses (ownership of the parcel/Last valuation -Banks). This is best managed by linking the valuation function to the NLIS.

There are already some initiatives around this, such as the Valuation Portal Consultancy taking place. The private and public sector needs to come together to improve the quality, quantity and accessibility of land valuation data.

 

  1. Analysis of Central Asia’s Performance in Land Governance Indices and Assessment Frameworks

Akbikesh Mukhtarova, PhD Candidate, Kazakhstan

The presenter emphasised that there is a lack of scholarly work in academia and policy analysis on the informal constraints in central asia on accountability and transparency with regards to land governance. The poor performance of the CA countries is reflected in the fact that “land ownership data are available and kept updated, but the problem is that the data are not open to the population and also are mainly paper-based and not presented in machine-readable formats”. 

It is worth pointing out that while the author agrees that there is significant tenure insecurity in the region, the results of the land government indices do not adequately reflect the situation on the ground. The LGAF and Landex present data only for KGZ, which scores in Landex 2020 ( 60 out 100), but the data is based on only four out of 10 indicators (namely on secure tenure rights, effective action against land grabbing, transparent and accessible information, and protection of land right defenders). 

Other limitations of the assessment frameworks include the generalization of results for all five CA countries. In the Open Data Barometer all five CA countries have the same score. Thus, some differences between those countries are not taken into account. Such as differences in technical capacities, budget constraints, different organizational and institutional structures, levels of civil society engagement, and other factors. While in Prindex and other indices it is indicated that the data collection process is based in some cases on telephone interviews. This is a bit problematic in terms of the level of sincerity people can respond to the question via phone calls (due to political sensitivity of the topic related to land issues, out fear of surveillance, and subsequent prosecution). 

Therefore all these aspects in terms of data collection techniques should be taken into account.  Thinking and finding ways to overcome these limitations might help to get the data that could reflect the real situation on the ground. But we also need to take into consideration that since most indices and assessment frameworks are newly presented, and countries currently only at the stage of data compliance. I think all these limitations in methodologies are possible to overcome. Therefore, such knowledge and expertise exchange dialogues as our today's conversation and the consideration of case studies are extremely important. 

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