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Funding to help countries improve land tenure

afrol News, 8 February - A new partnership between Finland and FAO is to assist countries to develop sustainable and affordable land administration systems to improve tenure security and land governance in both rural and urban areas.

The $2.4 million project will help FAO member countries to test and adopt low-cost open source technology for the benefit of their land records maintenance. The project will be piloted in Ghana, Nepal and Samoa.

"Effective and transparent land administration plays an important role in ensuring the security of tenure of rural and urban populations,'' said Alexander Müller, FAO Assistant Director-General.

"The project responds to a real demand in a context where land administrations commonly lack tailored and flexible software tools necessary to effectively maintain and develop the cadastre and land registration processes," he noted.

The project will promote affordable software systems that enable quick improvements in transparency and equity of governance. The introduction of information technology systems to land registration is one of the key ways to reduce corrupt and non-transparent land management practices. Moreover, effective IT systems improve the structure and accessibility of records, facilitating knowledge-based decision making and wider data dissemination.

Open source software is increasingly seen as an alternative to proprietary software products, primarily due to its reduced costs, accessibility and high adaptability. The Open Source Cadastre and Registration (OSCAR) project is the first serious initiative applying open source solutions in developing countries.

"Effective and transparent land administration is a vital element for food security, poverty reduction and sustainable use of natural resources and is becoming increasingly important in many parts of the developing world," said Paavo Väyrynen, Finnish Minister for Foreign Trade and Development.

"Since it is often women who suffer from weaker land rights, gender issues must be carefully considered throughout this project. This new FAO programme clearly reflects the priorities of our development cooperation policy, which includes the promotion of high technology solutions in development activities. We look forward to seeing the results."

"Finland has increased the number of partnerships with FAO in recent years and has been an active partner in the field of land administration in a number of developing countries including Tanzania/Zanzibar, Cambodia, Palestine, Ethiopia and others," Mr Väyrynen added.

The project will develop fully functional software solutions for selected modules of land administration adapted to local contexts. In addition, institutional structures will be strengthened to maintain the software.

The final result, a fully functional OSCAR shell with an active online user community, will lower the barriers for the use of information technology by developing countries in order to improve land registration systems and to enhance tenure security.

The experiences of Ghana, Nepal and Samoa will be widely disseminated to encourage other member countries to consider the advantages of open software solutions in the development of their land administration.

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