Addressing past land-related disputes and developing an adequate formal land tenure system have been two main challenges for the development of Timor-Leste. While several factors contribute to these challenges, one crucial factor has been overlooked: the lack of reliable, consistent, and independently collected data about land that can and should inform government policies, civil society advocacy, and donor community interventions. The project developed by the Van Vollenhoven Institute and The Asia Foundation aimed to, through a consultative, participatory process, develop and implement a questionnaire about land tenure, disputes, expectations, and perceptions that could be replicated, and could inform land-related legislation and interventions, and mirroring the results of a cadastral survey at a fraction of the cost and time.
This project made four key contributions to the Timorese land sector: First, it developed a tool through which it is possible, in a cost effective and timely manner, to assess different aspects of land tenure for policymaking. Second, the project raised awareness among politicians, state officials, and members of civil society organizations for the need of basing policymaking and land related advocacy on evidence obtained through scientific research. The third contribution of the project was the creation of a large set of land-related data. Finally, the project was developed in the middle of the debate of a Land Law Package by parliament, providing an important opportunity to influence the legislative process.
Read more about the project here.