ERC Quarterly Report: October – December 2014

During this quarter the project continued to expand field activities, support joint LTRM/Bureau for Food Security (BFS) efforts related to land tenure and agriculture, improve approaches to data collection, and strengthen collaboration and communication across the STARR partners’ network.

Under Tasks 1 and 2 ERC worked closely with the LTRM Office to implement field data collection and improve survey and interview instruments.  We have developed a robust review process for survey instruments that involves internal and external review, which is then incorporated into documents. We have developed flexible processes that allow for rigorous impact evaluations even under challenging conditions, such as the PRADD II Impact Evaluation (IE) in Guinea where the Ebola outbreak required a shift from in-person training and electronic data collection to remote training and paper-based data collection. However, working closely with Tetra Tech (TT), the implementing partner for PRADD II, we were able to address safety and health concerns and complete data collection.

By the end of the quarter, baseline data collection was completed for TGCC, LAND, PRADD II and CLPP.  ERC had completed planning for and developed or revised survey instruments for the endline data collection for ELAP/ELTAP and had also developed survey instruments for the complex Community Forestry Program (CFP) in Zambia. We began discussions with the LTRM Office about how best to publicly share this data to meet USAID open data requirements and to meet the needs of researchers and others who will help build an evidence for the value of land tenure interventions and programs.  Finally, we held a conference call with STARR partners to discuss impact evaluation and share experiences and lessons learned between implementing partner TT and Cloudburst.

This quarter activities under Tasks 3 and 4 continued to highlight STARR project work by featuring implementing partner projects on the USAID Land Tenure Portal, in presentations (Mercedes Sticklers’ presentation for the African Union’s Land Policy Conference) and through engagement with the new land tenure Community of Practice (which discussed the USAID program in Ethiopia implemented by TT and USAID programs in Columbia implemented by Chemonics). Our editorial calendar process helped STARR partners coordinate media outreach and messaging around land tenure and we continued to focus on expanding and leveraging the LTRM Office’s social media presence to drive more viewers to the USAID Land Tenure Portal.

We continued to support joint LTRM/BFS efforts. This quarter we developed a video for internal USAID promotion announcing a new joint statement on land tenure and agricultural productivity that features E3 Bureau Assistant Administrator Charles North and Tjada McKenna of BFS. We revised the operational guidelines for responsible land-based investments and supported the LTRM Office at the CFS plenary meetings where the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems were endorsed.

ERC made good progress this quarter towards the goal of building capacity within the USG to understand and address land tenure issues.  We filmed another module of the 14-module Land Tenure and Property Rights Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and coordinated with 10 other presenters to help them develop materials.  As noted above, we launched the Land Tenure Community of Practice (CoP) for USG staff, and we conducted a specialized LTPR training for USAID Mission staff in Haiti. These three activities support the ERC goal of deepening the pool of USG talent that can address land tenure and property rights issues.

Activities under Task 5 have also moved beyond start-up phases. The Mobile Technology Pilot, which has been renamed the Mobile Application for Strengthening Tenure (MAST) project finalized contracting with the technology developer, technology development started and we negotiated with a strong local implementing partner to conduct capacity building and legal awareness raising in our pilot village.  We also collaborated with the impact evaluator for this project, MSI.  This project is generating interest from the Government of Tanzania and may help the Government achieve ambitious goals related to mapping and registering rural land rights under its Big Results Now program.

The second pilot project, the Land Governance Partnership in Burkina Faso, presents a number of challenges.  ERC consultants and staff provided remote support to the National Land Observatory staff, whose primary activities during this quarter were largely administrative and logistically-oriented. A significant amount of NLO staff time was dedicated to completion of administrative formalities and moving into and preparing a permanent office. NLO development was hindered due to the political turmoil in Burkina Faso which resulted in the delay of onsite ERC support to the NLO. Fortunately, the ERC task lead, Kent Elbow was able to return in December to work directly with the NLO staff. Significant progress towards further defining the 5-year plan for the NLO was realized during the visit. Initial concepts for the Transparency Initiative were also presented to USAID during this quarter.