A Land Behind Time

Since making peace with the FARC in 2016, the Colombian government has pushed rural reform to the forefront of national dialogue by creating a new land administration authority, the National Land Agency, mandated to spearhead land formalization campaigns. Six out of every 10 parcels in Colombia are informally owned. The USAID-funded Ovejas pilot represents one of the government’s highest hopes for achieving the formalization targets set out in the Havana peace accord, which call for formalization of seven million hectares of land over the next decade.

The Ovejas pilot alleviates major time and cost burdens that prevent most rural landholders from seeking a valid title. It also gives the government an efficient tool to organize rural areas and demonstrate to the wider population that the government is behind them. The price tag: an estimated US$1.5 million, or 50% of what it would cost the government to do the same work using the old model. When the pilot wraps up later this year, it will be the government’s job to replicate it in other municipalities.