DANILO ANTONIO -Land surveys can define boundaries, the spatial elements but cannot provide tenure security

Danilo Antonio is a Programme Management Officer (Human Settlements) at the Land and Global Land Tool Network Unit under the Urban Legislation, Land and Governance Branch of UN-Habitat.
He is a land surveyor by profession who has worked with the Philippine government particularly in the Land Administration and Management Program (LAMP) supported by the World Bank and Australian Aid for International Development (AusAID).

What are innovative land tools and how do they facilitate good governance in land?
Danilo: A land tool is a practical way to solve a problem in land administration and management. For me these instruments drive us to achieving good governance in land. GLTN has developed tools under various thematic areas like: access to land and tenure security, land administration and information, land policy, land based financing, land management and planning.
Good governance is about driving a sound land policy and how you deliver it matters! How do the tools come in? The tools are the instruments to do it in practical terms. The tools that we are producing did not exist before. We have been used to conventional approaches which have proved to be expensive, require a lot of capacity development and take a lot of time for implementation. Land tools facilitate improvement of land tenure security at scale in a shorter period and in an affordable manner.

Which countries have successfully used these innovative tools?
Danilo: Yes, GLTN has been working in countries like Uganda , Namibia, Kenya, Zambia, DRC and Philippines in both urban and rural settings .   Also, in Nepal, the tools are being used for land use and settlement planning in the post-earth quake recovery context.

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Are we chasing accuracy other than the policy and securing tenure?
Danilo: The question should have been why are we doing land surveys?
Land surveys can define boundaries, the spatial elements but cannot provide tenure security. Tenure security is about perception. It is about people to people relationship over land. If you do not fear any forced evictions in the future, if you agree with your neighbors about your boundaries and if authorities (government and customary) ensure that these rights are protected, then tenure security is assured.
It is empowering knowing that you have secure tenure, knowing that, you have no fear against forced eviction. Once tenure security is achieved, other development impacts including on economy, simply emerge.. . Tenure security does not necessarily mean issuance of individual freehold titles. For instance, what if a national government declares that ‘No forced evictions for the for the next 10 years’ and enforce this policy statement. This means a 10-year of enjoying secure land rights.

What are the opportunities and challenges in land administration and governance?
Danilo: One great thing that is happening is the development of sound land policies for different countries in Africa. For example, Kenya has a very good land policy document (Sessional-paper-on-Kenya-National-Land-Policy.pdf). T he increasing democracy in many regions is a contributing factor to the emerging opportunities in land administration. However, some socio-cultural practices still exist in Africa and poses a huge challenge in the responsible administration of land and natural resources. We still have culture and communities, which do not affirm to the idea of women owning land. Education is still a major challenge too.
Issues like corruption and lack of capacity are still barriers to implementing these sound policies.

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What do you like most about your work?
Danilo: Work is inspiring in many aspects. But I like most when I travel to our field projects and talk to the community members on the emerging impacts of what has been implemented on the ground . It gives me satisfaction and motivation to do more.

Are we on track in achieving the sustainable development goals? What is there to celebrate already?

Danilo: The fact that land is central in the sustainable development goals and in the new Urban Agenda is something to be proud of as a land practitioner. This never existed in international frameworks before. However, the global land community needs to consolidate its efforts to ensure secure land and property rights for all particularly for the poor, women and vulnerable groups. After all, SDGs promised to leave no one behind.

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