What problem are you trying to solve?
Almost three years ago, the armed conflict ended between the Colombian government and the rebel group FARC. The detriment on – mainly – the countryside of Colombia is immense: millions of internal refugees, hundred thousands of deaths and missed people and absence of legal security. A good land administration is essential for building a civil state, because peasants without title are in a vulnerable position, sensitive to become the victim of land grabbing and not in the possibility to invest in their land or equipment, as only a land title gives access to bank credits. Therefore, securing land rights and rural development is among the top priorities of the Colombian Government, as stated in the Colombian Peace Agreement.
It is estimated that up to 60% of the rural population does not have legal proof of ownership over their land, which corresponds to roughly 10 million rural parcels. Current methodologies to survey and register land are very time consuming and costly.
What is your solution to this problem?
In the Land In Peace project by Kadaster International in cooperation with University Twente, we test the Fit For Purpose methodology: farmers walk along the borders of their land with a GPS to demarcate their plot, while locally trained youngsters use a dedicated app on a smartphone for the data collection. Such lightweight devices are very efficient to use in mountainous Colombia. After finishing the data collection a public inspection for the local community is organised. On a big screen, farmers agree on each parcel boundary in a fully transparent way. After mutual agreement, the parcels can be regularised leading ultimately to land titles. Conflicts will also be mapped, as a basis for efficient conflict resolution. The approach is highly participatory, involving farmers, the community and local authorities. The method is fast, affordable and transparent. The rural land regularisation can be speeded up considerably, thus fulfilling this important goal in the Colombian peace agreement.
What is your latest update on your innovation?
We are doing pilots in various communities in two regions in the country. Both regions are deeply affected by the armed conflict. This has led to data collection and public inspection of several hundreds of parcels. The first 17 land titles were handed out by the Colombian Minister of Agriculture and the Dutch Prime Minister on November 2018. A third pilot in a mixed indigenous and colonist community is currently explored.
ESRI (geographic information system software supplier) is improving the app based on our field experiences. Besides the technical tests, we are working on a diplomatic scale to make a political impact that could lead to methodology change in the current land administration policy. High-level politicians and various Ministries have shown their great interest in the Land In Peace project.