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December 2006

Announcement of a publication

Land Reform, land settlements and cooperatives


The availability of good quality land tenure data is necessary to enable informed debate and the generation of appropriate land tenure and rural development policies. This need, coupled with increasing pressures on land resources, has led the Land Tenure Service of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations to focus on land tenure data as one of its major areas of activity under its présent work programme. Its objective is to support the Member Nations of the Organization in their analysis and understanding of the role of land tenure in rural development and, more specifically, of how good land tenure data are used to support improved policy- and decision-making. Given that relatively few national agricultural censuses and other appropriate data collection activities record much data on land tenure, this activity, in coopération with FAO's Statistics Division, supports Member Nations that are considering inclusion of such data by helping to identify what data might be useful and why.

This first volume of Land Reform, Land Settlement and Cooperatives for 2006 concludes this line of work. It includes ten articles that examine the issues of land tenure data, land tenure databases and their roles in their host societies. These articles are based on the set of case and synthesis studies that were prepared for the Land Tenure Data Expert Meeting held at FAO in Rome in September 2005. They also reflect the outcomes and improved understanding of the issues developed during that meeting.

This volume, therefore, presents a rich set of articles presenting issues specific to a number of continents and regions, countries and communities, land tenures and land tenure databases. The first article, by Grover, Törhönen and Palmer presents a general summary of current thinking on the importance of land tenure data and databases for policy- and decision-making. The following four articles deal specifically with Central and Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. The remaining five articles présent country case studies covering selected Central and Eastern European countries, Cambodia, Thailand, South Africa and Bénin.

The articles in this volume are unique in presenting a set of regional perspectives on this important issue. They demonstrate the importance of collection, recording and analysis of land tenure data in ail regions. These data are crucial for improved decision- and policy-making in the fields of economic development, food security and environmental sustainability. The articles also make it clear that the collection of such data is not straightforward, owing to the variability and complexities of land tenure Systems and arrangements; nor do land tenure databases permit standard solutions or models.

Paul Munro-Faure
Chief, Land Tenure Service
FAO Rural Development Division

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