ERC Success Story: Building the Capacity of Burkina Faso’s National Land Observatory

In Burkina Faso, USAID is building the capacity of the Burkina Faso National Land Observatory (NLO), to ensure transparency of land tenure and property rights.  After nearly a year of start-up activities, the NLO and its Board of Directors convened a meeting May 28–29 to validate the NLO’s five-year observation work program and annual work plan (developed with input from a wide variety of stakeholders).  On June 16 in an event that featured speeches by officials from the US Embassy and the Ministries of Agriculture and Urbanism, the NLO was officially launched. This event was an opportunity to raise the visibility of the NLO, to distribute the first issue of the NLO bulletin to general assembly members and partners, and to maintain dialogues with a variety of potential donors.

The core activity of Burkina Faso’s NLO is the collection, storage and processing, and diffusion of land tenure information. Achievement of an effective land information management system built on these three components will improve land tenure security by increasing transparency and expanding the base of shared information regarding land rights and issues among stakeholders; educating the general public as well as specialists on pertinent land tenure topics, debates, challenges and possible solutions; and improving the quality and quantity of information available to policy and decision makers.

The NLO has developed separate and detailed strategies for each of the three major components of its land tenure information management system. The core of the NLO work plan for the 12-month period June 2015 through May 2016 consists primarily of implementation of these strategies. Each strategy is organized on the basis of fourteen land tenure issue areas, each of which is analyzed through the respective lenses of rural land tenure and urban land tenure.

Information collection: The NLO is putting into place protocols with government agencies, local government land tenure services, and development partners that will specify the types of information targeted and the collection procedures specific to each information source. The protocols will be progressively implemented throughout the year according to a prioritization of issue areas and associated indicators.

Information storage and processing: The NLO has identified sets of attributes and parameters that are being put into place for each tracking indicator. Thus the information storage system is to be organized based on indicator “type” (i.e., indicators’ association with issue areas), definitions of indicators as well as of key terms used in definitions, defined unit values, frequency of information collection, baseline value of indicator, and disaggregations of the indicator that will be tracked (for example, by gender). The coding system and categories of metadata for the information storage system are defined in the NLO information storage and processing strategy document. Construction of the template will be completed in June-July 2015 and population of the database will take place throughout the year as information is collected. A technical support mission sponsored by USAID is scheduled for August to review and evaluate the information storage system and processing plans and capabilities, and to identify training needs for NLO staff related to information management.

Information diffusion: The NLO has developed a communications strategy that targets: diffusion of collected and processed land tenure information; establishment of a Burkinabe community of practice for land tenure; and education/awareness raising of the general public on land tenure issues. Highlights of the communications strategy to be implemented June 2015–May 2016 include: production of a quarterly NLO Bulletin (first issue to be published in June 2015); regional and national workshops and conferences; conduct and publication of special thematic studies; production of a video documentary on targeted land tenure themes and radio programming; and active maintenance of a dedicated website on which all NLO products will be published.

Lobbying for improved land tenure policy: The NLO is targeting Feb-March 2016 for an initial round of communications and lobbying of Burkinabe lawmakers with the objective of improving land tenure policy and legislation. The targeted dates for this activity assume that the NLO information management system has matured to a level that yields a reliable basis and justification for targeted policy improvements.