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7.1 Most donor-funded projects dealing with land administration concern themselves with only one aspect of land administration, principally that of administering land rights through some form of identification and documentation of rights. They do not usually address other aspects such as land use planning and enforcement, and land valuation and taxation, or do so only marginally. This guide reflects this focus.

7.2 Some land administration projects aim at making existing access to land more secure, for example through titling and registration. These projects include an adjudication process, i.e., actions to authoritatively determine existing rights and claims of people to land. It is generally accepted that adjudication should not alter existing rights or create new ones, but should instead establish what rights exist, who holds them, and with what limitations. However, experience shows that even projects that limit their scope to strengthening existing rights to land can still face significant practical problems. Such projects often have been criticised for concentrating overlapping rights to a parcel in the hands of one individual, and for neglecting claims of subordinate holders of partial or common rights to land.

7.3 Other projects seek to make changes to the way in which people gain access to land. Providing gender inclusiveness in access to land can benefit families, communities, and nations through, for example, increased economic opportunities; increased investment in land and food production; improved family security during economic and social transitions; and better housing and land stewardship. Such benefits, however, can only be fully realised if the strategies adopted for improving gender inclusion work in practice. Decision-makers and project teams need to know:

7.4 Projects that seek to promote changes in access to land by women and men inevitably have to manage tensions introduced when changing the tenure structure. Such changes may result in shifts in the power structure within a family, within a community, or within a nation. The promotion of gender equity along with other trends such as the decentralisation of local government often may be in direct contrast with the “traditional way of doing things”. Without changes to the attitudes of much of the population, traditional practices are likely to continue regardless of the formulation of new policies or the enactment of new legislation.

7.5 Land administrators have an impact on land tenure systems worldwide. This implies that they also have a special responsibility to society. As the land tenure issues grow increasingly complex and become more diverse, they also have a responsibility to know more about the issues and to do more to ensure that the systems for administering property rights serve all sectors of societies well.

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