Institutional effectiveness and sustainability

may be regarded as an operational objective also, i.e. a means for attaining the broader objectives. It is gaining increasing importance as land tenure regimes gradually make a transition from informal, customary systems to formalized systems involving recording of rights and bureaucratic procedures. For developing countries whose national public institutions often are still weak, the challenge of implementing and maintaining, for example, modern land titling and registry systems can be very large indeed. David Atwood has made the point forcefully:

The adjudication, sophisticated recording systems, precise boundary delineation, and mapping requirements of land registration or titling are quite costly in the use of legal, technical and managerial skills. These skills tend to be needed in a number of other high-priority areas in many African countries. Given existing constraints on the human and financial resources available to most African countries in the next few years, a decision to allocate skilled people to land registration is implicitly a decision to deny those skills to another important sector or activity.14

Klaus Deininger and Hans Binswanger have underscored the operational importance of this issue:

The titling process requires a clear legal basis and a streamlined institutional infrastructure that is capable of administering the process efficiently. Numerous World Bank projects have either underestimated the complexity of the technical issues involved in titling or assumed that titling could be initiated even if agreement over complex policy issues had not been reached. Many countries have a plethora of institutions, programs, and projects - often with overlapping competencies and responsibilities, contradictory approaches, and high resource requirements - that make it impossible to administer a titling program effectively or to instill confidence in the validity of the titles issued.15

The large initial costs of titling may be borne in part by international development agencies, but a land titling system that is not maintained up to date loses most of its value. This is particularly an issue in Africa, where many customary

13. Michael Kirk, 'Review of Land Policy and Administration: Lessons Learnt and New Challenges for the Bank's Development Agenda', peer review provided at the electronic forum on Land Policy Issues and Sustainable Development, co-ordinated by the World Bank, Washington, DC, USA, March 5 to April 1, 2001, p. 5.

14. D. A. Atwood, 'Land registration in Africa: the impact on agricultural production', World Development, 18(5), 1990, p. 666.

15. K. Deininger and H. Binswanger, 'The evolution of the World Bank's land policy: principles, experience and future challenges', The World Bank Research Observer, 14(2), August 1999, pp. 260-261.

systems have prevailed up to present times, but it is also a concern in Latin America and many parts of Asia. Other kinds of land regulations, including taxes and restrictions on land use, also impose potentially difficult administrative requirements. Today, increasing recognition is given to the need to ensure that land policies do not impose administrative burdens that are beyond institutional capabilities, and that appropriate attention is paid to the needs for institutional strengthening in this area.

Institutional effectiveness is essential for ensuring that allocative efficiency is achieved, whether by land markets or other mechanisms. To achieve effectiveness in this sense, an appropriate legal and regulatory framework is required, as well as the institutional capacity to administer it. The regulations governing land rentals and sales, for example, are critical to allocative efficiency and are discussed later in this chapter. Institutional capacity is vital for ensuing an even-handed application of the rules for access to land, to families of all income strata and all political affiliations.

Another institutional dimension of the land problem comprises the entities and procedures for resolution of land disputes. Often those institutions are weak, or practically non-existent from the viewpoint of most farmers, since they may take the form of courts located in distant areas, and access to them would be prohibitively time-consuming and expensive for most rural persons who, in any case, may feel intimidated by their procedures. Judicial systems that guarantee swift, impartial and inexpensive resolution of land disputes are an important component of security of land tenure, as well as representing a bulwark against abuse, and therefore they deserve priority as an objective of policies and programs for land tenure.

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