“Land in Peace”, a Dutch-Colombian collaboration in land administration

Land is at the heart of Colombia’s armed conflict. Unequal land distribution, land tenure insecurity and land grabbing fueled the 57-year conflict and were core issues at the negotiation table in Havana. So much so, in fact, that “Comprehensive Rural Reform - CRR" became the first chapter of the final Peace Agreement. If properly implemented, the CRR will significantly boost land access and security to thereby enable farmers to access loans and credits, and prevent land conflicts from flaring up again. This in turn is crucial to ensure a stable and peaceful region in close vicinity to the Kingdom of the Netherlands. With its support for the work of the Dutch Kadaster, The Netherlands has become a respected partner for Colombia on land issues. In the video included below, we present the results achieved during the first phase of the “Land in Peace” project.

Land administration a cornerstone of the bilateral relations

The Peace Agreement was signed in 2016 and concretely, therein the Colombian government committed to, in approximately ten years, establish a Land Fund of 3 million hectares to grant to victims, formalize 7 million hectares of land owned by small and medium size landholders, and set up a national multipurpose cadaster. The Netherlands – having actively supported the peace negotiations and as neighboring country of Colombia – decided to help further the agreement’s implementation with a comprehensive support package. Land Administration became an important part of the Dutch contribution to peace. Not only because of the role of land administration in the agreement itself, but because the Netherlands' Cadastre, Land Registry and Mapping Agency (Kadaster) had already been working on this topic in Colombia for years. With support from RVO, in 2014 the project “Cadastral formalization in Colombia” started. Kadaster created a light mobile spatial data collection tool, working closely with Colombian institutions and in doing so becoming a trusted partner in Colombia’s inter-institutional debates on new concepts in land administration.

Kadaster’s Fit-For-Purpose methodology, the Dutch approach

Colombian politics and the complex institutional framework governing land administration make quick wins in this area difficult. The Colombian National Registry (SNR), Colombian National Cadastre (IGAC), National Planning Department (DNP), Presidential Counsellors’ Offices, and the National Land Agency (ANT) are each crucial entities needed to allow the Kadaster’s methodology to be adapted and scaled. This complex institutional framework is compounded by another complex set of laws which govern Colombian land administration, meaning that many legislative changes and thus strong political support have to be secured before the Fit-For-Purpose (FFP) methodology can be used as new basis for the Colombian institutions.

Kaart Kadaster

The FFP methodology proposes a revolution to Colombia’s approach to land administration. Kadaster’s FFP concept for land administration consists in registering land in a quick and affordable way, producing results that fit the purpose and quality needed, involving its stakeholders in the process. The Colombian current legal framework obliges farmers wishing to register land to collect around 47 signatures from various institutions, wait months and pay hefty administration costs. Consequently, registration rates are so slow, that Colombia at the current pace would need over 100 years to formalize the 60% of the territory that lacks titles. The FFP methodology – by contrast – allows communities to use affordable and user-friendly technology to jointly map the division of land in their area. If a farmer’s claim to a plot goes uncontested, he can follow a simple procedure to formalize his land. This method is cost-efficient, participative and in line with international best practices.

“Land in Peace”, a Dutch-Colombian collaboration in land administration

In 2017, the “Land in Peace” project started in two post-conflict areas, namely: Vista Hermosa (Meta) and Apartadó (Antioquia). The ambition of the pilots is to 1) deliver land titles for farmers as an important condition for development of rural areas affected by the armed conflict; 2) Formulate a FFP roll-out plan for Colombia based on these pilots; 3) ensure effective cooperation and coordination with all relevant Colombian counterparts; 4) Develop local capacities at the municipal level to maintain an up to date land cadastre and registry after the project finishes; and 5) Guarantee transparent and clear communication, to achieve true participation in the demonstration pilots. To formalize and secure this collaboration, the Dutch Embassy in Bogota and Kadaster have signed Memoranda of Understanding with the three most important institutions for land administration in Colombia: National Land Agency (ANT), The Colombian National Registry (SNR), and the Colombian National Cadastre (IGAC).

The pilots of Vista Hermosa and Apartadó are now in their last phases. In Apartadó, the remaining land titles are expected to be handed out in 2021. In Vista Hermosa more time is needed, however all relevant actors have the political will to overcome aforementioned institutional and legal hurdles. In 2019, Kadaster started a promising third pilot at the request of the Colombian National Cadastre (IGAC). This pilot will update the cadastre of the municipality of Cumaribo (Vichada), where 34 indigenous reserves are located. As 30% of the Colombian territory consists of indigenous reserves, it is crucial to include experiences with communal indigenous lands in the National Rollout Plan of the FFP methodology.

The first phase of the Land in Peace project ended in December 2020. The Embassy and Kadaster acknowledge the great relevance in continuing these joint efforts for another two years, needed to finalize and show the results of the pilots, further align all Colombian institutions, scale up the methodology with the newly elected regional and local governments, and grant Kadaster enough time following the next Colombian national elections (first half 2022) to socialize their approach with the next administration. Ensuring continuity of this initiative will contribute guaranteeing that the Dutch efforts towards a peaceful and stable Colombia will have long-term impact.

Below, you can find the video wherein we present the results of the first phase of this project. Interested in more details about this collaboration? Visit: www.tierraenpaz.com

Link to video: https://youtu.be/rc3h0XRqWmM