Angola: Land Rights Formalization in Rural and Peri-Urban Settings: Draft Operations Manual

This manual sets out guidelines for the formalization of land rights in rural and peri-urban settings in Angola. The Draft Operations Manual: Land Rights Formalization in Rural and Peri-urban Settings is a comprehensive document that includes considerations for the selection of communities for formalization projects, guidelines for project management and implementation, a program for sensitization and awareness building, and a procedure for identifying and resolving existing land conflicts while preventing new conflicts from arising. The Draft Manual includes guidelines for the formalization of the land held by a traditional rural community and the demarcation of land held by individuals in rural and peri-urban settings.

Throughout the Draft Manual, procedures include specific guidelines and suggestions for improving the land rights of women and, to the extent identified, other marginalized and disadvantaged groups. The following is a summary of the guidelines set forth in the Draft Manual:

Phase I. Project feasibility assessment. The initiation of a project requires attention to a few key considerations and decisions, which will in turn form the foundation for the project. These decisions include deciding the entity that will drive the project (the Project Facilitator) and an informal assessment of government interest and initial assessment of possible sites in area. Each region and local area will present different issues relating to possible project areas, but some general considerations for area selection include: land productivity, land values, accessibility, tenure security, and population density and growth patterns.

In some cases, after completing the analysis in this phase, entities may decide that the time is not right for a project or appropriate sites do not exist and will thus postpone further steps until a later date. Note, however, that Angola’s land law requires those who occupy land without rights or title recognized by the land law to apply for a concession title within three years of the date of publication of the regulations (estimated to be August 2010) or risk loss of rights. An extension of an additional three years may be available under the regulations, but should not be presumed.

Phase II. Engagement of key stakeholders. Once the initial assessment is complete and the Project Facilitator has determined that sufficient interest in the project exists, the Project Facilitator proceeds to identify key stakeholders, which may include the Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development and Fisheries (DPADRP); the Provincial Department of Urbanism and Environment; the Institute of Geography and Cadastre in Angola; the National Institute for Territorial Planning and Urban Development; municipal, comuna, and/or bairro administrations; community groups (including women’s groups); and local traditional authorities. The extent of involvement of various government officials depends on the circumstances at the time of project development and implementation. In areas where decentralization of land matters has occurred, provincial level officials may be less involved and the municipal authorities highly involved.

The process of engaging the stakeholders begins with sensitization of key government officials, community group members, and traditional leaders to the nature and purpose of the land formalization project through workshops, individual meetings, or a combination thereof. The Project Facilitator should obtain the agreement of the relevant government officials to proceed with the project.

Phase III. Formal site selection and assessment. At the same time as identifying key stakeholders and holding informational meetings, the Project Facilitator gathers information about possible project sites. Once the relevant parties (government officials, Project Facilitator, local leaders) select the site, the Project Facilitator should determine when to conduct the baseline survey or benchmarking assessment, if one will be done.

Phase IV. Create and mobilize mechanisms of control. The project mechanisms of control are the groups designed to manage and implement the project. One or more mechanisms of control are essential to the success of the project. A Management Group, including high-level government officials necessary to make decisions and the Project Facilitator, guides the project, making the major decisions necessary to move the project forward (including deciding the nature of the land rights formalized and establishing project principles). An Implementation Group implements the decisions of the Management Group, executes the project, and is responsible for sensitizing and communicating with the government, community, and civil society members.

Phase V. Initiate community participation. One of the most critical steps of the rights formalization process is the engagement of the community in order to ensure all relevant parties’ understanding of the project and its impact on land rights and obtain the community’s support. The Implementation Group organizes meetings with the community to provide basic information regarding land rights, rights of women and other marginalized groups, management of land disputes, project procedures, and the community’s role and participation. The project should not proceed until the entire community is aware of and understands the project. The Implementation Group establishes a formal link to the community through use of an elected Community Group.

If indicated and desired, the Implementation Group will conduct baseline or benchmarking site assessments to collect information regarding the site and community characteristics, such as land, environment, and social and economic issues. The Implementation Group will disseminate the data collected to project stakeholders.

Phase VI. Demarcation of rural community land, conflict assessment, and documentation. Following the initial sensitization of the community and establishment of the Community Group, the Implementation Group proceeds with the process of land rights identification and conflict assessment, demarcation of land, and documentation of the land rights formalization process. The guidelines include procedures for the demarcation of rural community land. The Implementation Group works with local leaders of the community and those with land bordering the community to establish an agreed boundary for demarcation. The Implementation Group records land measurements, boundaries, and details of land occupancy. The project can maintain the information manually or in an electronic database.

Phase VII. Creation of application for recognition of useful customary domain and recording (rural communities). For rural community boundary demarcations, the Implementation Group must consider the following so that they secure recognition of Customary Useful Domain, pursuant to the 2004 Land Law, Article 37. Copies of the certificate recognizing the rural community’s customary useful domain and the accompanying map should be maintained by the community, the project, the Municipal Administrator, and the DPADRP. For individual plots, depending on the nature of the land right formalized, the appropriate documents are prepared and recorded in accordance with the land law. The project maintains copies of the documentation of the right granted for each parcel and maps. The Implementation Group provides the land occupants with a copy of the tracking form memorializing the demarcation process and information gathered. Land occupants will also receive copies of the documentation of land rights as ultimately registered with the relevant government authority.

Phase VIII. Individual peri-urban and rural parcels: Demarcation, conflict assessment, and documentation of plots. These guidelines apply to projects that elect to demarcate individual parcels within peri-urban and rural areas. Following the initial sensitization of the community and establishment of the Community Group, the Implementation Group proceeds with the process of land rights identification and conflict assessment, demarcation of land, and documentation of the land rights formalization process. For the formalization of land rights to individual plots, the Implementation Group provides instruction to landowners and land rights claimants regarding land rights, documentation, women’s land rights, and management of disputes. The Implementation Group records land measurements, boundaries, and details of land occupancy. The project can maintain the information manually or in an electronic database.

Phase IX. Application for land rights and recording. The nature of land rights available for individual plots in rural areas under the 2004 Land Law is uncertain and the process for applying for rights, through a concession or otherwise, even less developed. This section of the Draft Manual is included, therefore, to provide some framework for those seeking recognition of individual rights, such as the de facto statement of occupancy obtained in the peri-urban area.

As this process unfolds and is clarified within the Angolan government through the decentralization activity, the project should determine the land rights granted, prepare the application, give public notice, address objections, obtain authorizations and signatures, and record the final documents with the appropriate government authority.

Follow up (after all phases). The Implementation Group should review the status of any land parcel that had a dispute at the time of demarcation at six months and again at 12 months after the completion of the demarcation of the area. The project should monitor and evaluate the activities during implementation and at the conclusion of the project in accordance with the indicators agreed to by the Management Group.

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