Sub-regional Office for the Pacific Islands

Samoa first to pilot open source land administration software

23 Sep 2012 -- Samoa has become the first country to put the new software Solutions for Open Land Administration (SOLA) into operation. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) developed the open source software to make computerised cadastre mapping and registration systems more affordable and sustainable for developing countries.

A cadastral map is a comprehensive register of a country's real property. It commonly includes details like land ownership, tenure, precise location, dimensions and area and the value of individual parcels of land.

In Samoa, more than 80 percent of the land is held in customary ownership outside the title registration system.  Transactions affecting the remaining 20 percent of freehold and government land are managed using two separate computerised systems based on commercial software and dependent on overseas software support. SOLA offers Samoa the chance to use a computerised system that integrates both title registration and cadastral mapping functions.

Country specific customisations for the new software

 Three FAO member countries, Ghana, Nepal and Samoa will pilot SOLA. Samoa was the first country to embark on a customization project beginning in March 2012.  Customization ensures that the software will meet the particular local needs and requirements of each country. The overall sustainability of the software in each pilot country is a key element of the SOLA project. Local developers with direct access to the FAO SOLA project team are carrying out the customisation of the software.

Neil Pullar, SOLA Project Coordinator for the FAO, said: “SOLA fills a real need in Pacific countries for a computerised solution allowing land agencies to provide a better level of service, better access to land information, more secure recording of valuable land records and a reduced dependency on overseas experts to maintain and extend the system in the future. ”

Private-public sector cooperation

In Samoa, developers from Computer Services Limited (CSL) and staff from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE) are working side by side to implement and test the Samoan customizations to SOLA. The new software  will roll out at the Ministry during November (2012).

 “Using Scrum under SOLA has been a new experience for our MNRE’s IT, Quality Assurance and Land Registration staff who have enjoyed the team work and the chance to work alongside CSL’s software developers customizing SOLA,” said Vitaoa Pele Fuata’i the MNRE SOLA Project Manager.

 Initial funding for the SOLA project will end shortly, but interest in SOLA continues to grow with official requests for implementation coming from the West Bank (Occupied Palestinian Territory), Nigeria and Tonga. Fiji, Kyrgyzstan and Yemen have also expressed an interest in the software system. FAO is seeking additional funding to assist with new implementations and ensure continued support for the pilot countries from development assistance partners.

About SOLA

SOLA is a three-year trust fund project. It is funded by Finland. FAO's Climate, Energy and Tenure Division Land Tenure team initiated and manages SOLA to improve land tenure security for the poor. SOLA is also an important tool to help implement the Voluntary Guidelines on Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the context of National Food Security. The Committee on World Food Security officially endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines in May 2012.

 Please visit the SOLA Website for more information: http://flossola.org/

 Neil Pullar, the SOLA Project Coordinator, can be contacted at:

 neil.pullar@fao.org

Vitaoa Pele Fuata’i, Project Manager in the Samoan Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment can be e-mailed at: peleiupu.fuatai@mnre.gov.ws