Accelerating Economic Development through Improved Land Administration in Nicaragua
Strong property rights crucial Uncertainty over land tenure can have several negative consequences. It hampers potential investments and land market transactions; generates conflict; and disproportionately affects poor rural farmers, indigenous communities, and especially poor women. Recognizing the importance of land tenure issues in development while also building a thriving economy, Nicaragua has made strengthening property rights for all citizens an important development goal. Over past years, the country has undertaken several important legal and institutional reforms that have strengthened key land agencies' capacity and decentralized their services. But, although progress has been made, Nicaragua still faces challenges in its land tenure objectives. For instance, one-third of rural parcels are held without a clear title, and it still takes 9 procedures and 58 days to register a property.
Nicaragua is committed to continuing the modernization efforts and building upon the progress made so far. A long-term reform program to further improve land administration services and strengthen tenure security, particularly for the poor, is being implemented. The program recognizes land tenure security as a strategy for economic development. By improving productivity through expanded access to credit and facilitating land regularization services at the local level, it can contribute to growth and prosperity. However, many of the agencies and institutions implementing the Nicaraguan reforms require further capacity development. To strengthen implementation and accelerate the country's land administration reforms, Nicaragua had expressed interest in learning about global experiences in improving land governance. In the context of an ongoing World Bank-financed land administration project, a grant from the South-South Experience Facility made it possible to organize a knowledge exchange between Nicaragua and Croatia and Macedonia. Both countries had relevant experience in tackling challenges similar to those Nicaragua was facing.
To help Nicaragua more successfully implement reforms in land administration, the exchange was designed to provide participants with useful insights and concrete lessons related to institutional strengthening of land administration and property rights, ways of improving service delivery to clients, and new models for upgrading the current Integrated Cadastre-Registry Information System to a sustainable technological platform that is closer to global standards.
The exchange had a sequenced approach and consisted of three components. A preparatory workshop, held in Nicaragua with all its relevant agencies, focused on refining the purpose and activities of the exchange and familiarizing participants with the land administration and policy course of the two knowledge-providing countries. In addition, a special in-depth session was held between the participants from the knowledge-recipient and the knowledge-providing countries. The main component of the knowledge exchange was a study tour to Croatia and Macedonia.
The participants in the knowledge exchange included both managerial and technical staff from the key land agencies. Representatives from Nicaragua's Attorney General's Office included the Attorney General himself. The Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies was represented by technical staff who manage the National Cadastre, design cadastral policies, and accord procedures toward the integration of cadastral and registry information. The Property Intendancy was represented by technical staff who coordinate the design and execution of national policies related to state land, the agrarian reform, and the regularization of land. The Property Registry Directorate under the Supreme Court was represented by managerial and technical staff who coordinate, manage, and oversee the functioning of the National Registry System and Integrated Cadastre-Registry Information System.
The Nicaraguan participants learned from and shared experiences with their counterparts through semi-structured activities, action-learning workshops, and field visits to urban and rural areas in order to contextualize the new ideas and concepts being demonstrated in an applied manner. The third post-tour component was a regional dissemination and action planning workshop in Nicaragua to generate practical discussion with the added participation of regional implementing partners and land administration experts.
Generally, several lessons, as described in Box 1, emerged that could be considered for exchanges on land administration or on any topic. The knowledge received from this exchange allowed the Nicaraguan participants to raise their awareness about other models and methods for improving land administration services and increase implementation know-how. By including both policy-makers and high-level technical staff, the exchange not only built technical capacity but helped policy-makers understand the full potential of such reforms and, at the same time, ensure an enduring impact on the Nicaraguan institutions involved.
Box 1. Useful Lessons for South-South Knowledge Exchange on Land Administration
Find a good fit. Bringing together countries with enough commonalities between them can help to make it a more useful learning experience. Similarities in terms of institutional structure, size, processes, and objectives should be taken into account.
Engage the World Bank's global network of land specialists. Its land team is known for being an active community of practice with strong connections across the World Bank. Utilizing the knowledge and connections of this network can help to ensure that both sides of the exchange are well covered.
Leverage resources to extend the learning. Planning, implementing, and providing follow-up support to a South-South knowledge exchange requires a considerable investment of time, and human and financial resources.
The experience, knowledge, and insights that Croatia and Macedonia shared in all the areas that were covered during the exchange were relevant to Nicaragua's reform agenda and highly valued by the participants. During
the exchange, Nicaragua took away new understanding on key issues related to its own land administration modernization process, including (a) modes for the automation of land administration systems; (b) development of information technology systems that integrate registry and cadastral information, (c) establishment of simplified client-oriented procedures for land administration services; (d) institutional development in a dual agency, as well as in a single agency context; and (e) different ways and methods for achieving improved land administration service delivery.
We hope to establish a formal cooperation and capacity-building program with the Macedonian authorities, where Nicaraguan experts will be trained in some of the key land administration innovations in Macedonia.
- Nicaraguan Attorney General
Seeing first-hand how Macedonia's ambitious IT system was organized and structured to make the technology more productive made quite an impression on our group. We came out excited about what we had learned, and plan to implement many of the good practices.
- Nicaraguan IT Specialist
To consolidate the experience, the participants prepared a detailed report following the knowledge exchange. The report was used during the action-planning phase and in the dissemination workshop. Following this stage, the key land policy-players who participated in the knowledge exchange developed an Action Plan that includes various activities for institutional strengthening and has significantly informed the direction of Nicaragua's land policy.
The grant from the South-South Experience Facility also had a catalytic effect. Recognizing the importance of knowledge exchange, the Nicaraguan Government supplemented the grant funds with additional financial support for the regional workshop, which made it possible to include regional land administration officials at the workshop. This resulted in enhanced dissemination of the knowledge and experience that participants had gained during the study tour and created an opportunity for broader knowledge-sharing activities among the network of Latin American land institutions and experts. The exchange also resulted in Macedonia confirming its interest in continuing to act as a knowledge-providing country for land administration modernization in Latin American countries.
*1.Croatia, like Nicaragua, has a dual land agency model: cadastre managed by the State Geodetic Administration, and the land registry within the municipal courts managed by the Land Registration Management. Macedonia has a single agency model.