FIT FOR PURPOSE LAND ADMINISTRATION 

What is fit for Purpose?

Fit for Purpose focuses on the “what” which is the purpose and “how” to achieve this purpose with the best ‘fit’ design.

Fit-for-purpose means that the land administration systems – and especially the underlying spatial framework of large scale mapping – should be designed for the purpose of managing current land issues within a specific country or region – rather than simply following more advanced technical standards. (Fit-For-Purpose Land Administration, 2014)

Every country has its specific needs on their land sector, each with different forms of land ownership, different legal systems and also institutional frameworks. Therefore it cannot be the issue of one size fits all.

It’s evident that our current and past methods of our land administration have been slow, have resulted in land conflicts and also affected the economic development on land in some areas. Our past approaches have also denied tenure security to many.

There are laws passed to protect our land rights but they only serve those with legal tenure. The different tenure complexities need to be recognized legally. Land rights lie in a continuous paradigm between the informal and formal rights. In between this extremes are legitimate rights which are not recognized yet need to be. The Fit for purpose concept advocates for continuum of tenure and not just individualization.

It is important to note that this concept is  pro-poor. Conventional land administration systems often work against the needs of the poor (Lemmen 2010; Zevenbergen ET at al .2013 as cited in Advances in Responsible Land Administration, 2016). People affected majorly by insecure tenure are those living in informal settlements, community lands. These are areas prone to land grabbing by private developers. Evictions become a norm.

In Mathare Mashimoni, an informal settlement in Kenya, the organization of community and the registeration of their rights under the STDM Software has reduced the cases of evictions. The community mapped the houses using aerial images and labeled them with a unique identifier. A record of all the attributes is kept linked to the houses.  The same concept was administered in Kwa Bulo Mombasa where 1000 certificates of occupancy were issued ensuring tenure security.

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A map of an Mashimoni mapped with high resolution aerial images.

The conventional systems have proved to be expensive in pursuit of accuracy. The use of visible boundaries (edges) can be used to secure and record legal and social rights.it can also embrace the use of open source software i.e QGIS other than proprietary.

Though still having a community land act bill passed in Kenya we have seen communities being ripped of their land. This has led to a lot of title individualization and dissolvent of group ranches. Cases of family land conflicts were titles are stuck in our grandfathers and chains of succession cases are piled in courts .Beneficiaries of this particular parcels can only enjoy but just few rights.

So many rights are not recognized.

Why Fit For Purpose

It’s a concept which provides solutions in a best-fit way to our land issues. It is flexible and affordable compared to the conventional cadastral systems. We have been harnessing the past technologies which have worked elsewhere but definitely not here. It’s a concept which promotes homegrown solutions as it is participatory.

For instance, in the case of nomadic people, they have land rights which also need recognition. It’s only them who understand their own patterns and therefore it would be best to have a fit land administration system for the nomads. Our solutions to land administrative issues must be innovative.

The fit for purpose approach is a gender responsive one. The legal aspects and flexible tenure systems cover for the gender equality and inclusiveness.