Bolivia Land Titling Program (BLTP) Quarterly Report: July – September 2004

The Bolivia Land Titling Program (BLTP) helped Bolivia’s National Agrarian Reform Institute and its Property Registry System to develop a low-cost model to title and register more than 470,000 hectares containing more than 25,000 properties. The activity improved security of property rights and to expanded individual access to land markets and the full benefits of land assets. The project developed and validated a massive low-cost titling process — the results of which are accessible on the Internet — that can be applied throughout the country. Land titling fostered by the project helps farmers receive loans and encourages them to abandon illicit crops, while strengthening government institutions at all levels.

In this section we report on the specific achievements and activities during the quarter for each of the four strategic objectives. The project has four strategic objectives: 1) Develop and Strengthen INRA’s Institutional Capacity; 2) Develop and Strengthen DDRR’s Institutional Capacity; 3) Develop and Implement an Outreach Dissemination Program; and 4) Develop and Strengthen the Municipalities’ Capacity



Plan I and IIA

INRA Cochabamba was unable to meet the quarter’s numerical targets due to a lack of clear definition of areas of responsibility with BKP, widespread conflict over disputed property boundaries in the Indigenous Territories (Territories Comunitarios de Origen or TCO), and incomplete and/or deficient documentation. The targets for the FARA were amended early in the quarter when it became apparent INRA would be unable to meet them.

Of the six steps, each requiring a different set of activities, the original and amended goals were exceeded only in step 4: Final Resolution. Changes introduced in this step have speeded up and simplified the procedure. The standard procedure was for INRA Nacional to send a title back to Cochabamba because either it lacked proper documentation or the documentation failed to meet the requirements which were unclear or misinterpreted by the staff. This major bottleneck was addressed through the technical assistance provided by BLTP, which facilitated a workshop for 72 INRA technicians and BPK staff to standardize and clarify the documentation requirements. The workshop also concluded with the determination that INRA La Paz officers will travel to Cochabamba to carry out the reviews and avoid lengthy delays by shipping documents back and forth.

The second reason for delaying the issuance of titles in this quarter was the change in the design of the coat of arms of Bolivia which is printed on the legal paper used for the titling documentation and the title itself. The need to re-issue the documentation and titles has delayed the processing of titles nationally.

As a direct consequence of the problems mentioned above, only 197 of the planned 700 titles were issued during the quarter. While this was a disappointing number, it was important achievement for the GOB. The President himself delivered the titles to community leaders in a ceremony held in the “Prefectura” of Cochabamba where he highlighted the assistance of USAID and the EU in the titling of properties.

Plan IIB

After intense negotiation during the reporting period an agreement was signed between INRA Nacional, INRA Cochabamba and the BPK consortium identifying 15,000 hectares in new areas where INRA is responsible for the entire regularization process. The 15,000 hectares were for INRA to fulfill its original mandate to work in 100,000 hectares. Work began in late August and fell short of the original targets. However, considering that an entire new operation had to be put together and that field work did not start until August, the progress made is important, especially because it involved the implementation of a new community relations methodology developed with BLTP leadership and support.

The importance of good relations with the community from the start can not be emphasized enough. Intentional or unintentional mistreatment of community members by “saneamiento” technicians invariably leads to conflict and delays or stops the process. To prevent this, BLT has developed a strategy, a plan, and the instruments to improve “saneamiento” technicians’ capacity to work effectively with groups of clients and to speed up the first steps of the titling process.


After stalling for months, PRAEDAC finally made available to INRA information on the status of the work BPK is doing. When the project was designed, the assumption was made that BPK, responsible for completing four of the seven steps in the titling process for 465,000 hectares, would generate a steady flow of titling documentation for INRA to process, and that by the end of the BLT project around 25,000 titles would have been issued and registered. The reality is that from the original 465,000 hectares, BKP has only initiated work in 168,000 hectares. Furthermore, only 2,473 out of the 168,000 hectares, have reached step 4 of the process. See table 3 below for the status of BKP’s work. As a result, and given the pace at which BKP is performing, it is impossible that enough titles can complete the first six steps needed to justify the BLT project beyond the first semester of next year.

INRA, with the support of BLTP, has begun a quality control process of the documentation BKP is producing in Villa Tunari to minimize and try to eliminate delays due to sending the documents back for correction after they have been submitted to INRA.

This new activity and modality is the result of a first experience where INRA rejected the documentation of 12 out of 156 polygons presented in September. This situation highlighted the lack of coordination and understanding between the institutions involved in the regularization process, and illustrates the types of delays that are likely to occur as more documentation is handed over to INRA for further processing.

The agreement to open an INRA office in Villa Tunari, to review the documentation before it is presented, was reached in a meeting between the Vice Ministry for Alternative Development, INRA, PRAEDAC and USAID organized and facilitated by the BLTP project.

INRA Nacional

Satisfactory and strategic progress was made with INRA Nacional during the quarter. The second FARA covering September to November was signed. Under this FARA, 10 additional employees were incorporated making it a total of 17 BLT supported central office staff to process the titling documentation through the last 2 steps. The 17 are assigned to the National “Saneamiento” Directorate, Conflict Resolution and Standardization Unit, the Titling Unit and the Judicial Certification Unit.

To alleviate two other bottlenecks, the project is supporting an employee in the Agrarian Superintendence (Superintendencia Agraria) and another one in the President’s Office. The Agrarian Superintendence role in the process is limited to setting the regularization price per hectare, an unnecessary step since the law stipulates the cost of 10 cents per hectare. However, until the law is changed, this requirement must be fulfilled. This step that used to take up to 45 days or more has been cut to 21 days by the additional staff member, an improvement but not a solution. The job of the professional in the President’s office is to release the Final Determinations (Resoluciones finales) and to prepare the title for the
President’s signature.

We anticipate that next bottle neck to be addressed will be the current practice that the President must sign every title by hand and in person. As the volume of titles increases, it is hard to imagine that the President can afford the time he will need to sign titles.

On September 28 and 29, BLT facilitated what turned out to be the first meeting of all GOB institutions involved with the titling process. At that time,INRA, Derechos Reales and Tribunal Agrario held a two days workshop to try to coordinate their actions and to expedite the process. Several decisions were made that, if implemented, will improve the process. They include:

Tribunal Agrario Nacional (TAN) – INRA

INRA and TAN reached an understanding on various aspects of the law and titling procedures that should simplify and facilitate and speed up the titling process. These include:

  1. INRA will analyze and evaluate the jurisdictions sentences during the regularization process.
  2. Better channels of information and coordination will be implemented between agrarian judges and Regional Offices of INRA to coordinate the
    decisions of both institutions.
  3. Actions will be initiated to strengthen the coordination and exchange of information between agrarian judges and INRA. This flow could be
    originated by any of the institutions.
  4. Transfer of accurate information between institutions will be expedited.
  5. The Regional Directorates of INRA will share technical and other necessary information with TAN.
  6. Transfer of information will be made by electronic media using the system installed by BLTP.
  7. Cooperation between both institutions to get a better financing of resources will be sought.
  8. The physical presence of the “Supertintendencia Agraria” at a departmental level will be recommended.
  9. A Committee of INRA and Agrarian Court to present projects for the revision of procedures will be created.
  10. Notifications of final resolutions being impugned by citizens will be made to the “Superintendencia Agraria”.
  1. Correction of errors and omissions will be coordinated between “Derechos Reale”s and INRA.
  2. INRA will submit packages of no more than 20 cases at one time, using geographic classification.
  3. The term for the Registration of Executive Titles will be of 5 days per 100 titles without observations.
  4. Digitak graphic and alphanumeric information will be submitted electronically.
  5. The errors and omissions found by DDRR will be published in the DDRR web page and corrected by INRA within 15 days.
  6. The digital information transferred to DDRR Sucre will be simultaneous with the transmittal of documents to the district offices. Control numbers
    should coincide.
  7. During regularization INRA will provide DDRR with base information.
  8. INRA will provide DDRR with the list of priorities for regularization.
  9. DDRR will standardize quality criteria that need verification.
  10. A committee will be formed of both institutions to coordinate the transfer of information. Both institutions will nominate their respective representatives.
  11. INRA will notify DDRR of any particular situation within the following deadlines. INRA will submit the requirements by October 8, 2004, DDRR
    proposes a solution by October 15 and INRA responds by October 20.
  12. INRA will propose the exemption of taxes to the Consejo de la Judicatura, to mediate in the National Congress.


A ceremony was held during the second week of July to deliver to DDRR Sacaba, the equipment it needs to modernize its operations and, very importantly, the communications link between the offices of Sacaba and Cochabamba to store and transmit titling data electronically. As a result, INRA and DDRR are expected to fully automate transmission of data through the use of the software (Temis and Geotemis) provided by BLT. The system was used immediately to register the first 197 property titles completed and granted by the President on September 14.

The second FARA covering BLTP support for DDRR from August to October was signed. The FARA maintains the agreed upon level of support.


The development of the overall communications and extension plan is behind schedule. It will be completed by October and implementation will start immediately. The plan is based on a series of surveys, focus group analysis, and assessments. We subcontracted IMPRODES to conduct the surveys and focus group analysis, consultant Ruth Villegas to carry out the assessment on the role of women, Carlos Arroyo to carry out an analysis of the media in the Chapare and Marcelo Guardia to profile the media target populations.

The results of the surveys are quite revealing and include the following:

  • From the households holding land titles, the percentage claiming to hold titles given out by the Colonization Institute is 65%, by The National Agrarian Reform Council is 45%, and by the agrarian syndicates and syndicate federations is 8%. The “titles” granted by the syndicates or federations have no legal validity and most likely consist of a verbal agreement among neighbors and syndicate authorities. This is an important finding because it seems to contradict the claim that syndicates and federation use the granting of land as a political tool.
  • 79% of the women and 81% of the men are familiar with the INRA law.
  • 97% believe that having a legal title is important and advantageous.
  • The existence of an informal land market where 57% of the families purchased their farms.
  • 23% obtained their land through the occupation of fiscal or “vacant” lands.
  • Only 12% claim they obtained land through the colonization process.

The significance of the findings above need to be emphasized because they show that contrary to accepted wisdom, the main mechanism for obtaining land in the Chapare today is by purchasing it. The same survey 20 years ago would probably have shown that the majority of the farmers would have obtained their land through settlement/colonization mechanisms, or simply occupation of fiscal and vacant land.

Additionally, the survey found that:

  • 67% of the sample had not initiated the INRA regularization process in due to the following reasons: 27% had been instructed by their syndicates to not do it, 14% because INRA has not attended their requests for regularization, 13% because they do not know or they see no reason for it, and 11% because the regularization process generates conflict.
  • Of those who have not initiated regularization, 63% of the men and 52% of women want to have regularization of their land titles.


USAID/Bolivia and the VMDA have yet to define the conditions and manner in which this project will work with Municipalities in the region. The recent agreement between the GOB and the Agrarian Syndicates of the Chapare allowing each family to grow up to 1,600 square meters of coca offers an opportunity to achieve total land titling quickly. The timing could not be better for this project to help achieve total success in land titling.

For this to happen, a number of pieces have to fall in place:

  • The allocation of a “cato de coca” per family must be tied to obtaining land title for the property ASAP, and to the development of the Municipal Cadastre.
  • INRA must show convincingly that it can process land titles quickly and efficiently, so that the initial surge in interest and demand for titling is not lost.

Obviously, INRA even with the support it is getting from this project and others, will not be able to instantly process thousands of titles, should the demand materialize. However, even if it were possible to attend everyone right away, the process itself takes time, more time than the allocation of the “cato de coca” will take. The ability to respond to increased demand quickly and efficiently will be critical in titling all properties in the region. If there is no quick and efficient response by INRA, the demand for titling will quickly dissipate as informal on-the-ground mechanisms are devised by the syndicates to register land and put together some kind of cadastre. If a steady stream of titles is not forthcoming, the linkages between the land title, the municipal cadastre, and the “cato de coca” will be broken, and along with it much of the incentive and interest of having a land title.

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