ADB grant for land administration, mgmt

Kathmandu, October 22:

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is assisting Nepal in developing a more reliable, fair and sustainable land administration and management system by modernising and improving business processes and developing a road map for a national comprehensive land policy. “It will extend a $350,000 grant to a project for Strengthening Land Administration Services, which is estimated to cost a total $400,000, with the government covering the balance,” states a press release.

Susanne Nebel, rural development specialist of ADB’s South Asia Department, described Nepal’s current paper-based system as largely traditional, subject to error and deterioration.

“Information is acquired, stored, updated, collated, and retrieved manually in paper form with a low level of accuracy and high risk of distortion and duplication,” Nebel said. “Major land records are also deteriorating due to poor storage and there is no provision for recovering many of these records in case of a disaster.”

The ADB’s support will be channelled to key areas where quick results can be achieved within a short period, but in line with the longer term goals of Nepal to work towards an efficient, service-oriented and informative land administration system based on modern technology and increased access to farmland for agricultural labourers to contribute to poverty reduction.

The project will assist Nepal in coming up with a comprehensive national land policy framework that provides sound strategies for clarifying and documenting land rights and managing land resources for sustainable economic and social gains. It will also upgrade the government’s land information system to improve business processes and work flows.

During the last decade, the government has made efforts to modernise land administration, focusing on computerising data managed by district land revenue offices. Currently, Department of Land Information and Archive is testing the computerised land information system in four districts. Progress has been slow due to the lack of trained staff and funding.

“There is a serious lack of an overall strategy for information technology in land administration. There should be an extensive review of the way the department has been managing the resources to build and operate the land information system,” said Nebel.

Most Nepalis depend on agriculture for their livelihood, but a majority of the rural population are either landless or cultivate land too small to generate adequate income.

Security of tenure is an important element in economic development, not only because it helps boost productivity, but also due to the fees and taxes on land, which could be significant sources of the government revenue. Land is also one of the major sources of collateral for obtaining credit from established financial institutions such as banks and from informal credit sources.