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.
QUARTERLY PROGRESS REVIEW: STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES
STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 1: DEVELOP AND STRENGTHEN INRA’S INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY
In this quarter, there have been significant changes in the INRA’s attitude and willingness associated with the establishment of numerical targets and towards building institutional capacity. This is especially true in the Cochabamba office under the direction of its new Director. The La Paz and Cochabamba INRA staff working directly with the BLTP seem to be adopting a results driven approach to their work. Titles are now being produced on a regular basis, rather than on an exceptional basis.
Instituto Nacional de Reforma Agraria (INRA)
A change in INRA’s leadership, with the naming of new national and departmental directors, occurred during the quarter. Mr. Roberto Torrez replaced Alcides Vadillo as INRA’s Nacional Director and Mr. Mauricio Zabalaga replaced Luis Arratia as the Cochabamba Departamental.
Fortunately for BLTP, Mr. Torrez seems to support the work BLPT is doing with the institution and re-affirmed the emphasis BLTP places on results; something that the INRA La Paz staff had resisted in the past. He has also made it possible to deliver the signature machine, used to expedite the title signing process, to the office of the president. The use of the machine should eliminate one of the most intractable bottle necks; the insistence that the president sign every title manually.
As mentioned before, Mr. Mauricio Zabalaga assumed the position of Cochabamba Departmental Director. Under his leadership, INRA Cochabamba is working very productively. Mr. Zabalaga has successfully eliminated numerous bottle necks which previously stifled the productivity of INRA staff. This change has provided the flexibility needed for increased synergy and improved effectiveness of staff working with BLTP. Under Mr. Zabalaga’s leadership, INRA implemented Decreto Supremo 28148 which establishes a streamlined procedure for ownership verification and titling. This, in turn, has made it possible to implement Plan IV at an unprecedented pace.
Another salient accomplishment of this past quarter was the successful transfer of title information from the antiquated Instituto de Colonizacion to the modern and automated Ownership and Tiling System (SYST). Having the data stored in an electronic format results in improved information management and prompt access to information. The availability of reliable and accessible information will undoubtedly improve institutional capacity by providing INRA staff with the tools for increased responsive and better overall delivery of services. After a year long waiting period, INRA will now have the opportunity to reap the benefits associated with having access to automated information, like the potential for increased public credibility in
the institution’s ability to efficiently manage the titling efforts. While the previous INRA La Paz and Cochabamba directors opposed transition to an electronic filing system insisting that the work be done manually, the current directors are demonstrating that these remarkable achievements are possible by maintaining an open mind towards innovation and change.
1.2. INRA Nacional
BLTP invested considerable resources by working closely with Mr. Vadillo in the re-engineering of INRA. Regrettably, Mr. Torrez has not expressed any interest in pursuing the previously crafted reorganization plan. It remains unclear, what impact Mr. Torrez will have during his tenure, which is expected to last until December or January.
There was, however, a positive turn regarding BLTP’s results. INRA staff, whose salaries had been withheld because of a failure in meeting their established targets, ultimately followed through with their commitment and not only reached the missed targets but also achieved the new targets established in a new FARA. This notable accomplishment points to the effectiveness of the FARA mechanism. Once the BLTP communicated to INRA staff that salary payments would not be processed until the stipulated targets were met, the staff promptly reacted by delivering the agreed upon results. This represents an important victory for the BLTP and serves to show that accepting accountability on the par of INRA employees is a big step forward.
It should be noted that mid level staff member of INRA, who from the start have maintained INRA and not the contractor should manage the money remain hostile and may try to persuade the new Director to confront BLTP on issue of control and administration of the money.
Plan I and Plan II
As previously mentioned, the FARA contains specific goals for each month of the quarter.
Satisfactory progress was made in all indicators except one: the issuance of the final resolution in the titling phase. This is due to the fact that the majority of the titles still being processed contain errors or missing documentation. Although INRA is working hard to fix the errors and or fill in the missing documentation, it is unclear whether the majority of these titles will be finalized in the time remaining.
Plan IIb and Plan IV
Plan IIb covers an area of over 12,487 hectares and contains 1,024 properties. This area was added to the BLTP’s scope of work so that the target of 5,000 properties could be met. In order to meet the Plan IV targets it is necessary to proceed with the verification of ownership and titling of an additional 25,000 hectares.
Because of the geographic proximity of the areas under Plans IIb and IV, we chose to report the progress on both plans jointly in this section.
All targets were met or exceeded, except for the registration of titles in DDRR. Tiles were held up in the Presidents office when his staff decided to prioritize titles from Chuquisaca over titles from the Chapare for signature
STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 2: DEVELOP AND STRENGTHEN DERECHOS REALES (DDRR’S) INSTITUTIONAL CAPACITY
Titles are being registered as soon as they are issued. As of September 2005, 2,291 titles have been registered. DDRR (Derechos Reales) currently has the capacity to process large numbers of titles.
STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 3: OUTREACH DISSEMINATION PROGRAM
The communication strategy was modified to adapt to the changes in the distribution of tasks among the donors and the fact that the BLTP is now working in new areas, areas that have traditionally been opposed to titling for political reasons. Due to high political sensitivities in the region, BLTP/INRA communications directed to communities and local organizations are mostly carried out community by community. The communications campaign is being implemented by a group of INRA technicians trained by BLTP. In addition, based on results, and to promote more interest in titling in general and in Plan IV in particular, INRA’s outreach and communications unit started a radio campaign in early June to inform the public, on a weekly basis, what INRA is doing, where, and how much was achieved.
Between May and August of 2005, 13 radio programs with INRA news were broadcasted by the four radio stations of the tropics. Broadcast of further program of this kind is pending an evaluation of impact by INRA.
The four radio stations are used to notify communities and interested persons of dates and places where ownership verification activities are talking place and where and when titles will be delivered.
Other outreach and dissemination activities included the elaboration of new public dissemination material to educate the public on the INRA law and the procedures used to carry out the titling process, and the installation of a stand in two agricultural products fairs in Shinahota and villa Tunari.
Starting in October, INRA will publish adds in the newspapers of Cochabamba informing the public of the activities it is carrying out in the Chapare with USAID financing.
STRATEGIC OBJECTIVE 4: DEVELOP AND STRENGTHEN MUNICIPALITIES CAPACITY
The contract was modified to reflect the fact that under the current legal and institutional framework, municipalities have neither interest nor incentive to set up a rural cadastre, simply because they can not collect taxes from the majority of the rural property owners. BLTP task is to carry out an assessment of the legal and institutional frameworks that govern rural cadastre.
Four firms were invited to submit proposals to carry out the rural cadastre study. The selection of the winner will be made until October 15 and a contract signed hopefully before the end of the month. The cadastre study should be completed before December 15.