Information technology improves land tenure in ECA region through collaboration between World Bank and FAO

The World Bank and FAO have supported land administration reforms in the Europeand Central Asia (ECA) region for the past 10 years with an emphasis on creating transparent, efficient and accessible methods of real estate registration and cadastre by establishing strong IT systems. The impetus for these projects is the idea that securing land tenure will foster sustainable rural development and investments in property; and a good IT system will help to keep the services beneficial and affordable.

The Annual World Bank Conference on Land and Poverty took place in Washington, DC, from 23 to 26 April 2012. An FAO officer working on land administration IT presented the paper, “Information Technology in Support of Good Governance of Tenure of Land: Lessons Learned and Good Practices from ECA”, which was co-written for the Conference with a World Bank colleague. The paper focuses on the FAO/World Bank Cooperative Programme in the ECA region, a collaboration that included FAO’s Investment Centre Division and Climate, Energy and Tenure Division, and draws from case studies in the Russian Federation, Romania and the Kyrgyz Republic. Results show limited opportunities for corruption, reduced number of steps required for clients to interact with the agencies, easier online access to information, increased staff productivity, and decreased time for services to be provided. In addition, disaggregated data on gender and age can be obtained from the IT systems for research and policy purposes.

Land tenure projects account for 30 percent of FAO’s work in the ECA region under the FAO/World Bank Cooperative Programme and the IT initiative has become a significant aspect. In 2010, 2011 and 2012, six countries from the ECA region were on the top 10 list of countries where it is easiest to register property. All ECA countries have IT systems for land administration and most of them either provide information online or plan to in 2012. Now that considerable progress has been made in establishing effective IT systems, new challenges will include securing privacy of personal data, strengthening collaboration between private and public sector for improved services, and creating an international instrument that can be used to enhance governance of tenure. For this last point, the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests were adopted on 11 May 2012 by the Committee on World Food Security. Ninety-six countries participated in the negotiations as well as NGOs, farmers’ associations and private sector representatives. These Guidelines will now serve as internationally-accepted standards for responsible governance of land tenure.