Five years after the devastating 2010 earthquake, land tenure and property rights issues remain central to ongoing recovery, reconstruction and broader development efforts in Haiti. Weak land administration systems, lack of government capacity and a complex bureaucratic legal system have led to confusion, insecurity, and disputes over who has what rights to which pieces of land. These challenges have greatly impeded the Government of Haiti and the international community’s efforts to rebuild infrastructure and housing, enhance food security, improve resilience to future disasters and reduce extreme poverty in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation.
Recognizing the importance of land tenure and property rights issues to USAID/Haiti’s core development objectives, USAID/Washington’s Office of Land Tenure and Resource Management
(LTRM) organized a training program to improve capacity within the Mission to better understand and address this issue. In September and October 2014, USAID/LTRM and a team of specialists from the Evaluation, Research and Communication (ERC) program traveled to Haiti for a 3-day workshop on Land Tenure and Property Rights Issues and Best Practices.
The workshop brought together practitioners from across USAID/Haiti’s various operating units – from economic growth to agriculture to democracy and governance – along with civil society partners and Government of Haiti representatives from the various agencies with oversight over land tenure issues. Over the course of the workshop – through presentations, facilitated discussions and small group exercises – participants gained a deeper understanding of the institutional and legal framework for land tenure in Haiti, as well as the different, complex sources of tenure security and insecurity.
The final day of the workshop was devoted to working with USAID/Haiti staff to identify cross-cutting land tenure issues affecting different aspects of the Mission’s development portfolio and identifying specific strategies to better address this critical issue in current and future programming. While important progress was made in improving understanding of Haiti’s unique land tenure challenges and identifying possible solutions, this workshop was only an initial step in USAID’s efforts to affect positive change on this complex topic in Haiti.