This is the first Newsletter of the Global Land Coalition. Our effort is designed to attract the best minds in the area of land use, administration and management from all over the world. We have assembled a group of people with professional and applied experience in developing countries.
The dilemma that confronts the developing world is that ordinary people turn to land for survival when other sectors of the economy do not provide them with suitable employment opportunities. They have no other way to support their families. They are either in abject poverty or at margins of poverty, particularly the rural population.
The solutions proposed by the developed world at times may be too difficult for the indigenous population to accept in full. Such solutions, however well intentioned, are frequently rejected. Any land tenure program must take into account stage of development, lifestyle, cultural and social affinities of the local population. Furthermore, change must be done incrementally, without disturbing the social fabric they jealously wish to safeguard.
Our Members understand the challenging picture that we have before us and are determined to create changes that bring prosperity, without permitting the loss of individual identities and self-respect of the very people we are striving to assist. We hope this Newsletter will generate a sense of urgency in addressing these land issues and will be a vehicle for exchange of ideas for the betterment of the millions of vulnerable people who live and use land for their existence on this planet
The featured article in this months's Newsletter addresses land tenure in Sri Lanka. We trace the program over the past seventy years, including enabling legislation, land tenure reform plans, and intended and unintended consequences.
The Global Land Coalition and Stratford University have signed a strategic partnership agreement. The agreement was signed by Dr. Richard Shurtz, President of Stratford University, and A. A. Wijetunga, Senior Principal of the Global Land Coalition. At the signing ceremony, A. A. Wijetunga observed that "this is an innovative approach to the delivery of services in the land use arena. We expect to be able to better serve our clientele with this capability."
As part of the agreement Stratford University will provide access to their online educational platform. The WebCT platform supports multiple languages. In addition, Stratford will provide access to its multilingual student email system and peer-to-peer VoIP communication services. Stratford will assist Coalition members with the preparation of educational materials. It is expected that this technology will link the Coalition's worldwide team with land use leaders in developing countries. Stratford uses the same platform to deliver graduate and undergraduate courses online. Stratford is currently delivering programs in the US, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, and China.
Stratford has also agreed to provide support to the Coalition. This support will include office space at its Falls Church Campus in Virginia.
Millennium Corporation Impacts Global Developmenttop
In March 2002 in Monterrey, Mexico, President Bush called for a "new compact for global development," which links greater contributions from developed nations to greater responsibility from developing nations.
The President proposed a concrete mechanism to implement this compact -- the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) - in which development assistance would be provided to those countries that rule justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was established on January 23, 2004 to administer the MCA. Congress provided nearly $1 billion in initial funding for FY04 and $1.5 billion for FY05. The President requested $3 billion for FY06 and pledged to increase annual funding for the MCA to $5 billion in the future.
The MCA draws on lessons learned about development over the past 50 years:
Aid is most effective when it reinforces sound political, economic and social policies - which are key to encouraging the inflows of private capital and increased trade - the real engines of economic growth;
Development plans supported by a broad range of stakeholders, and for which countries have primary responsibility, engender country ownership and are more likely to succeed;
Integrating monitoring and evaluation into the design of activities boosts effectiveness, accountability, and the transparency with which taxpayer resources are used.
The text for this article was excerpted from Millennium Challenge Corporation's Web Site.
The world´s fifty poorest nations were analyzed in Least Developed Countries Report (2006): Developing Productive Capacities, a document published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) earlier this year. The report concludes that the Least Developed Countries (LDC) are urbanizing without creating productive non-farm jobs and that they must find a way to foster viable businesses and expand non-agricultural employment. Since these countries tend to have liberal trade laws, such expansion in the job market is challenging because of increased global competition. It is clear that most increases in LDC economic output can be traced to export of natural resources rather than to increased productivity or employment.
Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) is heavily tilted towards countries subject to conflicts and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) targets countries that are oil-rich or mineral rich. The balance of the countries must contend with increasing oil prices and the resultant inflationary pressures. In 2004, the GDP stagnated or declined in 15 of the 46 LDC countries for which data are available. 15 countries had a 2004 real GDP growth rate of 6% or above, 19 countries had a growth rate of between 3% and 6%, 12 countries had a growth rate below 3%.
Even in the countries where there is heavy ODA and FDI, this report highlights the need to direct these investments in a way that builds the economic infrastructure in order spread the development wealth widely. In most cases the investment does not benefit the local labor market, but simply produces profits for a small group of local businessmen and outside investors. The social indicators (such as unemployment rate, average wage, and productivity) are not encouraging. Prudent use of resources and productive investment are needed so that ordinary people can benefit from the development process. Agricultural employment is strongly dependent on proper land tenure policies. Non-agriculture employment requires training. Both categories require access to capital.
The political leadership of these countries must be dedicated to enlightened governance, honesty, integrity, transparency of all actions and elimination of corruption. The selection of prudent leaders is as important as market forces and investment strategies to the creation of an environment that supports sustained development.
The Least Developed Countries Report includes the following countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo (Democratic Republic of the), Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Kiribati, Lao People's Democratic Rep., Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Rwanda, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Solomon Islands, Somalia, Sudan, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tuvalu, Uganda, United Rep. of Tanzania, Vanuatu, Yemen, and Zambia.
This report is the latest in a series of Least Developed Countries Reports released by UNCTAD. This series provides socio-economic analysis and data on the world's most impoverished countries. The most recent in the series are listed below.
Land is a scarce resource in a densely populated country like Sri Lanka with nearly 19 million people. Sri Lanka covers 6.56 million hectares (ha). The extent available for use is 5.5 million ha. Of this area 2.311 million hectares are under use as agricultural land, and urban land including state owned land. The remaining 4.24 million ha is state land comprising of forests, barren land, reservoirs and their reservations, marshes and mangroves, steep land, sparsely used land, and land reserved for future use.
The per capita extent of land available at present is 0.29ha. This has declined from 1.53 ha. when the population was 3.6 million in 1901. With a projected population of 25 million in the year 2030, the per capita extent of land availability will be further reduced to 0.22 ha.
While all efforts have to be made to achieve sustained productivity of land, promote land uses that will minimize environmental damage, and conserve bio-diversity, the over dependence and reliance on land as a means of providing employment opportunities, has to be taken serious cognizance by the policy makers.
Land tenure rights have been modified using three different models in Sri Lanka, with varying levels of success. The objective with each model is to give additional rights and income to the landless and near-landless. The primary difference between the models is related to how the current land owners are treated. The three models are described in the Table 1 below. The degree to which rights and income are transferred in each of these models can produce widely varying results.
Table 1: Land Tenure Reform Models
Land ownership is unchanged. However, the state dictates that the bulk of the agricultural revenues be distributed to the tenant farmer. In addition, the tenant farmer has the right to use the land in perpetuity. This right is transferable to heirs. Landowners are normally not in favor of this model.
A land ownership ceiling is imposed on all land owners. Excess land is acquired by the state with minimum compensation. This land is then redistributed to the landless and near-landless farmers. No public land is given away in this model. Landowners are normally not in favor of this model.
Public land is given to landless and near-landless farmers for cultivation. This model is designed to provide landless and tenant farmers with land to make them self-sufficient. Private land is not taken over by the state for this redistribution, unless it is required for land consolidation. Land owners prefer this model because it does not affect their property rights.
*R. J. Herring in Land to the Tiller, Yale University Press, 1983
These three models were applied to land tenure in Sri Lanka. The specific Implementation Plans are discussed in the paragraphs below and summarized in Table 2.
The Land-to-the-Tiller Model was implemented from 1935 through the Land Development Ordinance. It transferred via permits and grants over 5 million acres of land to over 1.8 million rural farm families. However, in a majority of cases, the unit each farmer received was approximately two and a half acres of irrigated land and a half acre of homestead
The Intervention-Regulatory Model was implemented in 1958 by the Paddy Lands Act. It dictated that 75% of the income produced on the land be given to the tenant farmer. It further stipulated that the right to tenancy be held by the farmer for perpetuity. This right could be transferred to an heir.
The Ceiling-Redistributive Model was implemented in 1972 by the Land Reform Law. This program dictated a 50 acre ceiling for landholding. All land held in excess of the ceiling was transferred to the state for nominal (if any) compensation. The land accumulated by the state was then to be divided and distributed to the landless and near-landless. The law was reversed in 1981 by the Land Reform (Special Provisions) Act.
Table 2: Sri Lankan Land Tenure Implementation Plans
Sri Lankan Implementation Plan
75% of income produced by the land given to tenant; balance to the landlord
Tenant occupancy right guaranteed, with passage to heirs.
Authorized in Paddy Lands Act, 1958
Land holdings in excess of 50 acres taken over by the state.
Excess land to be redistributed to landless and near-landless.
Authorized in Land Reform Law, 1972
Reversed by Land Reform (Special Provisions) Act, 1981
Public land was given to landless and near land-less. Land permits and grants were limited to a few acres per family
These tenure reform Implementation Plans led to a number of intended and unintended consequences. Only one achieved partial success. The impact of these Implementation Plans are discussed in the paragraphs below and summarized in Table 3. It should be observed that the negative, unintended consequences of each of these programs was not anticipated in the legislation.
The Land-to-the-Tiller Model was the most successful because it actually did transfer land assets to needy. In all over 1.8 million land parcels were issued with permits and grants. However, no permits or grants exceeded a few acres. However, the predominant practice of rice cultivation did not bring about the desired income to push the farming population out of poverty. Agricultural diversification with high value crops is needed to attain higher income. The program provided food security, nutritional improvement, employment and shelter to the poorer segments in society. The program resulted in the distribution of population in sparsely populated areas of the country and helped to balance regional development. This program now accommodates a population of approximately 5 million (nearly 25% of the total population) in nearly 1.8 million parcels of land. The measure brought about changes to the rural socioeconomic structure.
The Intervention-Regulatory Model was resisted by the land owners. Since program fractured the trust between the tenant and the owner, most tenant farmers were evicted from their farms during this dispute. Because the Courts upheld the rights of the land owners to control their lands, the evicted tenant farmers could not regain their farms and the program could not achieve its objective.
The Ceiling-Redistribution Model successfully transferred all large block of land to the state. In so doing, it destroyed the agricultural plantation system. Less than 12.2% of the land seized by the state was ever distributed to the landless or near-landless. Agricultural output plummeted under state ownership and management. The program was reversed when state lands were leased back to Regional Plantation Companies who were in a position to reestablish the plantation system. The leasing arrangement was authorized by The Land Reform (Special Provisions) Act of 1981.
Table 3: Impact of Sri Lankan Land Tenure Programs
Sri Lankan Outcome
Program fractured the trust between landlord and tenant.
Large numbers of tenants evicted by landlords.
Courts upheld the landlord evictions.
Government agencies were unable to restore tenants right to occupy land.
The objective of the reform was never realized.
Land holdings were taken over by the state, but less than 12.2% was redistributed.
State became the owner of all productive plantations.
State attempted and failed at cooperative farming, resulting in a sharp drop in agricultural production.
In order to improve production, the land was leased back to plantation management companies utilizing the amendment to the Law that enabled bypassing the land holding ceiling. Such leasing arrangements are still in place.
The objective of the reform was never realized.
1.8 million land permits and grants were provided benefiting five million citizens.
Encouraged farmers to move to sparsely populated regions to help balance the economy.
In conjunction with this program, the government provided additional education, health, housing, and other facilities to this growing population. This development prevented large migration into the cities
Food productivity was increased and the farming community experienced nutritional improvement.
The small size of the land grant provided only minimal subsistence for the farming families.
The objectives of the reform were partially realized.
The increase in population and lack of employment made people to turn to land for survival. The institutional arrangements made to provide state land were incapable of handling the overwhelming demand for state land resulting in uncontrollable encroachment of state land in the island. In 1979, the Government undertook an island wide survey of encroachments and found that 381,353 ha. (942,345 acres) of state lands have been encroached by over 605,302 encroachers.
A regularization process was set in motion under certain determined criteria and by end December 1985, an extent of 215,082 ha. (531,480 acres) were regularized using the Land-to-the-Tiller Model. However the heavy demand for land and the inability of Government agencies to satisfy this demand in a timely manner, resulted in further encroachment of state land. In 1980, a Presidential Task Force of National Land Distribution was established and a further extent of 120,995 ha. was distributed. In spite of all these interventions, demand for land continues unabated, and encroachment of state land too continues without resolution.
None of these attempts brought about a radical change on the poverty conditions and on the basis of available data, chronic poverty affects 25% of the population. Chronic and transitory poverty combined affects around 40% of the population. Almost 90% of Sri Lanka's poor reside in rural areas and the vast majority of them derive their living from agriculture and off-farm employment. All these attempts to alleviate poverty reveal that an economy based on low-productivity subsistence orientated agriculture cannot lift the rural population out of poverty.
While the restrictions imposed for public good in other legislation may be desirable, the experience in the past shows that restrictions imposed in mainstream land legislation have not benefited the individual owners or supported higher production levels. The new policy therefore must consider lifting these tenurial restrictions to enable individual owners to make their own determinations free of governmental interventions. (See Appendix A: Enabling Legislation)
Good land legislation must be contained in a coherent body of law. Land legislation enacted or amended as a piece meal measure produces a patchwork of actions that are difficult to enforce and hard to understand. Sound land tenure policy requires a thoughtful legislative process that accounts for the needs of the stakeholders, the state, and environment. It must also provide for a suitable enforcement mechanism to make certain that the objectives of the legislation are achieved over the long term.
Land Tenure Reform must be rooted in sound legislation. The legislation the enabled the various land reform models is summarized below.
Land Development Ordinance -- The Land Development Ordinance No. 9 of 1935 has provisions for 'protected tenure' and 'unprotected tenure' of which only the former was put into operation. This 'protected tenure' made it possible for the Government to issue a permit initially, and on the basis of successful development to convert it to a grant. It had built in provisions for the prevention of fragmentation and the succession to the landholdings were clearly set out giving the principles governing nomination of successor and cancellation of same. When the nominated successor failed to succeed, provision was made for title to the land to devolve in terms of the Third Schedule to identified relatives. Though well intentioned, these provisions brought about difficulties, as the form of tenure was contrary to local custom, particularly the laws pertaining to succession.
In the modern day context, the 'protected tenure' does not appear to hold social legitimacy and farmers have resorted to informal subdivisions and illegal transfers to overcome legal impediments. Validity of laws depends on the ability of the government to enforce them. In this instance, the government with all the good intentions has failed to enforce them. Un-enforceable legislation would undermine the government's capacity to promote respect for law and order.
Land Grants (Special Provisions) Act -- The Land Grants (Special Provisions) Act No. 43 of 1979 too has similar restrictions imposed on the beneficiaries as the Land Development Ordinance.
State Lands Ordinance -- The State Lands Ordinance No.8 of 1947 provides for reservation of minerals and any state land disposition under the Ordinance does not confer any right to any mineral, mineral product or mineral oil in, under, or upon such land. Under Section 49, the Minster can declare any state land as a state reservation, for the protection of the source, course or bed of any public stream, the protection of springs, tanks, lakes, reservoirs, pools lagoons, creeks, canals, aqueducts, elas, channels, protection of the foreshore, the construction and protection of roads, paths, railways and other means of communications, the construction or protection of quays, landing places, hospitals, schools, libraries, museums, or public works, the prevention of erosion of the soil, the preservation of water supplies, the defense of Sri Lanka and any other prescribed purposes.
Agrarian Services Act -- Under the Agrarian Services Act No. 58 of 1979, the tenant of a paddy land is regarded as tenant cultivator. The landlord is expected to furnish particulars to the Commissioner of Agrarian Services to be included in the Register of Agricultural lands. The maximum paddy land that can be cultivated by a tenant cultivator is five (5) acres. The tenant cultivator cannot be evicted and such tenant cultivator can nominate a successor. The rent is to be determined by the Commissioner of Agrarian Services and cannot exceed fifteen bushels (15) per cultivated acre or not exceeding one-quarter of the yield, whichever is greater, as the rent payable for each cultivation season. The Act also has restrictions imposed on conversion of paddy lands to other uses.
Land Reform Law -- The Land Reform Law No. 1 of 1972 imposes a ceiling of fifty acres of land and twenty-five acres, if it is paddy land per family or a single individual. While, those who obtain leases for approved agricultural purposes can exceed the limit, others cannot.
In addition, to land-specific legislation, a number of other legislative measures impact land use and tenure. These additional legislative actions and constraints are summarized below.
Coastal Zone Act -- The Coastal Zone Act No.57 of 1981 provides for the reservation of land or water in the coastal zone and for the prohibition of certain activities in certain areas of the coastal zone. Regulations restricting and controlling the use of the foreshore by members of the public or controlling any development activity within the coastal zone have been published. No person can engage in any development activity other than prescribed development activity within the coastal zone except under the authority of a permit issued by the Director of Coast Conservation. This statute applies to all land, whether it is private or state owned.
Mines and Minerals Act -- Under the Mines and Minerals Act No. 33 of 1992, the ownership of minerals is vested in the Republic of Sri Lanka not withstanding any right of ownership or otherwise which any person may have to the soil on, in or under which minerals are found or situated. Any person who discovers any mineral has to inform the Director forthwith. No person can explore for mine, transport, process, trade in or export any minerals except under the authority of a license issued by the Mines Bureau. Restrictions on powers to issue licenses have been proclaimed to cover burial grounds, land in close proximity to a railway track, road, power lines, public work or buildings etc. Similarly land in close proximity to lakes, streams or tank or bund any wild life reservation, nature reserve, forest or park, catchment areas are excluded. The exploration of minerals is also prohibited in the foreshore and seabed, naval, military and air force, any land vested with Provincial Councils, and any ancient monument or archeological reserve, without specific approval of the Minister in charge of the subject. This Act does not apply to any mineral to which the provisions of the Ceylon Petroleum Corporation Act No. 28 of 1961 and the State Gem Corporation Act No. 13 of 1971 apply. The Act applies to all land, whether it is state-owned or private.
Petroleum Act -- Under the Petroleum Corporation Act No. 28 of 1961, the right to explore for and exploit and refine petroleum rests exclusively in the petroleum Corporation. Any land for oil exploration is required for the purposes of the Corporation, such property is referred as 'notified property'. No person can lease, hypothecate, alienate, transfer or dispose in any manner any property, which is included in such notice. If any petroleum is found under the surface of the earth on any property in Sri Lanka, such petroleum not withstanding any right of ownership vest in the Petroleum Corporation. Compensation is paid to the owner of the property as provided for in the legislation. The Act applies to all land, whether it is state-owned or private.
State Gem Corporation Act -- Under the State Gem Corporation Act No.23 of 1971 the right to mine for gems in or over state land or over land disposed of by the state where the mining and gemming rights remain with the state is conferred on the Gem Corporation.
National Environmental Act -- The National Environmental Act No. 47 of 1980 provides authority to the Environmental Authority to specify standards, norms, and criteria for the protection and beneficial uses and for maintaining the quality of the environment.
The Authority under Section 15 of the National Environment Act with the assistance of the Minister of Lands can formulate land use scheme to provide a rational, orderly and efficient system of acquisition, utilization and disposition of land. Such scheme can include a scientifically adequate land inventory and classification system, determination of present land uses, the extent to which such land is utilized, underutilized or rendered idle or abandoned, a comprehensive and accurate determination of the adaptability of land for community development, agriculture, industry and commerce, identification of areas having important historical, cultural, or aesthetic value where uncontrolled development could result in irreparable damage, a method of exercising control over the use of land etc. The Act applies to all land, whether it is state-owned or private.