27 August 2012

Ghana: Expedite Action On Lands & Land Use Bills - CICOL

Civil Society Coalition on Land (CICOL) has called on the Ministry of Land and Natural Resources (MLNR) and other stakeholders to expedite action on the drafting of the Lands Bill and Land Use Bill to enable them to become good laws that will effectively facilitate and regulate land administration in Ghana.

The two Bills, which will provide for the creation of specialised courts, special technical training for lawyers, Alternative Dispute Resolution, systematic land use planning, among others, are currently at an advanced stage of preparation.

Making the call at a civil society organisations orientation workshop on the Second Lands Administration Project (LAP-2) in Accra, Mrs Lillian Bruce, Co-ordinator of CICOL, said the Land Bill was at the third drafting stage, adding "we will still continue with it until we have reached the end of the journey."

Mrs Bruce said when the Bill becomes an Act, it will clearly specify the role and responsibilities of the Office of the Administrator of Stool Lands (OASL) and create the appropriate legal and institutional regulatory frameworks for the smooth implementation of LAP-2.

The MLNR is implementing LAP-2, the long-term (15-25 years) reforms in the land sector. LAP-2, the continuation of the first phase of the reforms dubbed LAP-1, aims at implementing the key policy actions recommended in the Ghana Land Policy of 1999 meant to address critical issues militating against effective land administration in the country.

With the support of international development agencies led by the World Bank, a 25- year land reform programme in five cohorts of five years each was designed as LAP. From 2003 to 2008, the first cohort of LAP was implemented but it ended in 2010 due to delays.

The objectives of LAP-2 are: to consolidate and strengthen urban and rural land administration and management systems for efficient and transparent land service delivery; to secure and complete the legal and institutional reforms started in LAP-1; to build on the momentum underway to transform the Lands Commission, the OASL and Town and Country Planning Department into modern and efficient service providers.

Beneficiaries of LAP-2 include land owners and traditional authorities, small-scale farmers, tenant farmers, leaseholders, all including women; land sector agencies, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, the Judiciary (District, Circuit and High Courts), lawyers, estate developers and utilities service providers.

She noted that, in a bid to strengthen the implementation process of LAP-2, the project administrators signed a memorandum of understanding with CICOL to enable them identify the role of civil society in LAP-2. She added that CICOL had contributed by way of comments and suggestions to the review of the draft Land Bill, and the coalition was expected to play an important role in LAP-2. Hence, the orientation workshop for CICOL members from the ten regions of Ghana.

Mrs Bruce said LAP-2 aims to consolidate the gains made under LAP-1 by deepening the reforms, thereby enabling the land sector agencies to be more responsive to clients by cutting down the cost and time of doing business and providing an enabling environment to achieve the objectives of efficient and transparent service delivery.

She said a total of $72 million was budgeted for LAP-2, with the World Bank contributing $50 million; Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) giving a $15 million grant; Ghana government adding $2 million as counterpart funding; and the beneficiaries offering $2 million.

She stated that LAP-2 has made a budget for four-interrelated components, namely strengthening the policy, legal and regulatory framework for land administration ($5.00 million); decentralisation and improvement of business and service delivery processes ($23.27 million); provision of improved maps and spatial data for land administration ($31.51million); and human resource development and project management ($10.78million).

To maximise project outcomes, Mrs Bruce said LAP-2 would focus on mapping in four regions, namely the Greater Accra, Western, Ashanti and Northern regions. She said the Greater Accra Region was selected for the purposes of reducing land litigation and enhancing security of investment while the Western Region was chosen primarily due to the discovery of oil in the area and the likelihood of the emergence of land disputes.

The Northern Region was selected basically for its poverty focus and a high potential for large-scale commercial agriculture that could engender land disputes, she continued. According to Mrs Bruce, the Ashanti Region was piloted on the basis of having a fairly cohesive single traditional authority, making it an advantageous model zone for scaling up the development of traditional land administration systems.

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