Land management supporting sustainable development

02 Apr 2013

imageAkintobi Olusanmi demonstrating land surveying equipment UNDP/Brian Sokol

“In order to ensure better service delivery, it is crucial to sensitize our people on their rights, responsibilities and limitations in regards to land administration, as well as clarify and interpret the clauses in the Land Act” stated the Honourable Kuot Mawien Kuot, State Minister of Physical Infrastructure for Warrap State.  Ensuring people have access to land gives them the opportunity to enhance their livelihoods, build communities and invest in their futures – even during times of austerity.  It can be difficult, however, given the lack of basic infrastructure, weak institutions and a lack of land management policies.

These challenges have been exacerbated by the large number of returnees in South Sudan.  Since October 2010, over 500,000[1] people returned to their homeland with many settling in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Unity, Upper Nile, Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal states.  In rural areas, a sudden influx of returnees has contributed to disputes over land, while in urban areas it means that settlements with little planning grow rapidly, stressing already weak public utilities, running the risk of overcrowding and posing potential health concerns.

In Warrap state, UNDP deployed urban management specialist Akintobi Olusanmi to assist the Government in implementing local land plans for residential neighbourhoods and providing basic training to support urban planning, sustainable urban land management and land administration.  With support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in February 2013, Akintobi supported the South Sudan Land Commission and the Warrap state Government in hosting consultations in which key stakeholders discussed challenges, made recommendations to address these issues and developed an action plan for effective land administration that will ultimately support sustainable development.

Key recommendations included:

- The state Ministry of Physical Infrastructure (MoPI) will disseminate the Land Act to communities, counties and bomas as well as employ community sensitization techniques in order to foster adherence and understanding of the Land Act.

- MoPI will standardize fees related to land issues to reduce the risk of corruption.

- State authorities will offer free land demarcation and will focus on propter city planning to address issues of rapid population growth in Kuajok.

- MoPI will continue issuing legal title deeds to land owners and verify lawn ownership documents to ensure people can have a formal and traceable claim to their land.

- The formation of land committees at the payam and county levels were encouraged to address issues.

- Resolved that women should be allowed to own land; and the MoPI suggested mechanisms that could be employed to support ownership for women. 

Effective land management is vital as land tenure positively influences social equity as well as agricultural productivity.  “Ownership of land can be used as collateral for securing loans at a bank or microfinance institutions, which helps empower people to unleash their economic potential and transform their communities” stated Balázs Horváth, Country Director, UNDP.  Moving forward, UNDP will focus on setting up land administration structures in the counties, payams and bomas as well as working with policy makers on to improve land governance within the framework of  the Land Act 2009.  UNDP is committed to working closely with Government to prevent land-related conflicts, foster livelihoods, empower communities and build resilience.

[1] Source: IOM