Book on Advances in Responsible Land Administration - 08/06/2016

Book review

Advances in Responsible Land Administration is an interesting and well-elaborated book explaining new methods that challenge conventional forms of land administration. The book is particularly timely and valuable in unfolding the innovative approaches to designing land administration systems in developing countries. It makes worthwhile reading for all land professionals and academics engaged in the land sector who are committed to developing the role of land management and administration for building a sustainable future.

The book is edited by the well-known academics Jaap Zevenbergen, Walter de Vries and Rohan Bennett. Various chapters in the book seem to draw from recent thesis work at ITC, University of Twente, The Netherlands, and it includes a range of empirical studies from the East African region. Each chapter therefore contributes different pieces to the puzzle, ultimately painting a bigger picture of innovative and responsible land administration.

The book aims to address the limitations of conventional land administration research, advance the scientific discourse and contribute to best practices. This approach opens up a broad range of issues for discussion that are dealt with in three sections: New Inspirations, Creating Innovative Designs, and Measuring the Impacts. The final chapter of the book looks ahead to the future direction of responsible land administration.

The term ‘responsible land administration’ refers to incorporating innovations with an understanding of the possible ethical and societal implications. By introducing this concept, the authors add a new notion to conventional approaches by aligning the administration with the ever-changing dynamics of societal demands. This is also clearly in line with the Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure as published by FAO in 2012, whereby responsible governance encompasses socioeconomic development, poverty reduction and food security.                                                                        

The book is empirically driven and presents up-to-date data from real cases in Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. The New Inspirations section includes the analysis of contemporary change forces such as pro-poor land administration, food insecurity, rapid urbanisation, post-conflict contexts and technological innovation. The Creating Innovative Designs section of the book explores innovative methods and techniques for capturing and updating data as well as simple methods for addressing land fragmentation and supporting pastoralists’ temporal land rights. The Measuring the Impacts section covers the consequences of land administration measures in relation to, among other things, land use change, environmental protection and displacement situations. This section also includes an interesting chapter on the impact of using STDM for pro-poor land recordation. The final section is a chapter synthesising the key concepts, ideas and findings from the book. Most chapters are nicely illustrated, although the book would have benefited greatly from having its images presented in colour.

The book is very well structured thanks to the same overall headings being used throughout the chapters. It thereby also represents a significant attempt to develop a coherent theoretical foundation for further research in this area.

I can recommend this book to all land professionals and academics engaged in the land sector who are committed to developing the role of land management and administration for building a sustainable future.

Stig Enemark

Last updated: 27/02/2018