The Land and Rural Development Program (LRDP) is at its core an institutional strengthening project. The project’s mandate is not to resolve land issues itself, but to strengthen the many GOC regional and national entities involved in the sector, through targeted technical assistance and training. The project will accompany the GOC entities to help them achieve their mandate; it will not do the work that the GOC must do itself.
LRDP’s work over the past three years has built the foundations for realizing profound impacts in years 4 and 5. This includes work to accelerate the pace of land restitution, enhance the planning and resource mobilization capacity of local governments, formalize land occupied by public entities (such as schools and health posts), implement the country’s first massive land formalization exercise, and mobilize several public-private partnerships (PPPs) that are supported by local governments.
The value of our combined regional and national approach has been highly acclaimed by key government counterparts, including governors and mayors in our focus regions, the Land Restitution Unit (LRU), INCODER, the Superintendence of Notary and Registry (SNR), the Agustin Codazzi Geographic Institute (IGAC), the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), and the Rural Agricultural Planning Unit (UPRA), and was rapidly recognized by the three nascent agencies established in the wake of INCODER’s dissolution.
As year 3 of the Land and Rural Development Program (LRDP) comes to a close and we prepare to embark on our final two years of implementation, we look out on unprecedented new horizons. On June 23, the government’s peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) produced a historic ceasefire and commitment on the part of the FARC to hand over its weapons and desist from illegal activities in exchange for incorporation into Colombia’s political process as a legitimate actor. Following agreement on the final draft of the peace accords, which occurred on August 24, Colombians will cast their vote in a national referendum on whether to support the accords. As expected, land and rural development are centerpieces of the peace negotiations and feature prominently in the first point of the agreement, which is titled “Comprehensive Rural Reform.”
In an effort to usher an institutional framework capable of supporting the implementation of the peace agreement, in June 2016 the government established three new agencies to replace the fractured and often ineffective Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) and take on some of the functions from the Consolidation Unit, which was also liquidated. Together, the National Land Agency, the Rural Development Agency, and the Agency for Territorial Renovation were charged with spearheading a new territorial approach for rural development—one with a strong focus on rapid and robust service provision by the state, accompanied by active community participation in areas with a history of neglect and impoverishment.
LRDP’s work over the past three years has built the foundations for realizing profound impacts in years 4 and 5. This includes work to accelerate the pace of land restitution, enhance the planning and resource mobilization capacity of local governments, formalize land occupied by public entities (such as schools and health posts), implement the country’s first massive land formalization exercise, and mobilize several public-private partnerships (PPPs) that are supported by local governments. The value of our combined regional and national approach has been highly acclaimed by key government counterparts, including governors and mayors in our focus regions, the Land Restitution Unit (LRU),INCODER, the Superintendence of Notary and Registry (SNR), the Agustin Codazzi Geographic Institute (IGAC), the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), and the Rural Agricultural Planning Unit (UPRA), and was rapidly recognized by the three nascent agencies established in the wake of INCODER’s dissolution.
Through rich and meaningful capacity-building endeavors in our five focus regions (Cauca, Cesar, Meta, Montes de María, and Tolima), we have forged strong relationships with local government entities. Municipal and departmental governments have learned to plan and mobilize resources effectively that result in increased land restitution and accompanying rights, investment in public goods that enhance rural livelihoods and productivity, and security of tenure through formalization of property
During years 4 and 5, we will continue to implement a number of activities initiated during year 3,
including, but not limited to, the following:
- Creating a land information system (the Land Node) that draws on and land-based information generated by eight government entities and supplies them with the needed information to carry out their mandates, with major gains in efficiency and security.
- Digitalizing over four million land-based records in 217 municipalities, increasing the efficiency and reducing the cost of government service provision while also securing and protecting files from manipulation.
- Equipping the National Land Agency with four information systems necessary to support the agency’s effective operations and service delivery.
- Improving land-based livelihoods by strengthening six newly formed PPPs through the provision of technical assistance in building the capacity of grower associations to negotiate and sustain commercial agreements and empowering regional entities to mobilize resources and support partnerships.
- Supporting the LRU in the creation and rollout of a strategy to effectively address current and anticipated demand for restitution and ensure that all restitution cases are addressed prior to the expiry of its mandate in 2021.
- Developing a new legal statute in partnership with the National Planning Department that will frame implementation of a national, multi-purpose land cadaster that is unified with the land registry and provides mapping and parcel information necessary to the implementation of the peace accords and public policy for rural development.
Given the robust ramp-up of programming during year 3 and the continued execution of resources to complete year 3 activities, we remain with only US$4 million to implement new activities in years 4 and 5. Our ability to fund the full set of activities in this work plan is contingent on receipt of approximately US$1 million in co-financing from outside sources, an endeavor we are actively pursuing.
The activities presented in this plan represent those judged by the program’s technical staff and leadership to be the most strategic actions for solidifying institutional strengthening gains already achieved, scaling up resource investments in target regions, and putting in place lasting transformational change. Through our year 4 and 5 programming, we are taking advantage of new opportunities to influence the direction of the three new agencies by ensuring that they are primed to
respond to the new challenges posed by the post-conflict environment and to usher in a new era in which rural development and poverty reduction take center stage in the Colombian government’s policy agenda.
Illustrative LRDP year 4 and 5 programming featured in this work plan includes the following:
- Designing strategic plans and regionally focused and inter-coordinated models for the three new agencies that ensure that their functions and instruments benefit rural families who are living in and returning to post-conflict areas.
- Implementing a pilot to carry out gender-equitable massive formalization of land parcels in Ovejas (Sucre), working in close collaboration with the National Land Agency; refining the methodology to enable replication by the agency in other parts of Colombia, and liaising with the Rural Development Agency to enable new titleholders to access productive projects.
- Facilitating the registration of public lands in the name of the state—a necessary step that allows these lands to be incorporated into an inventory of public lands and distributed to poor rural citizens while also protecting them from irregular acquisition by powerful actors.
- Mobilizing six new PPPs in regionally prioritized agricultural value chains and providing technical support to bolster their success and sustainability; this will result in 13 total PPPs mobilized by LRDP.
- Expanding regional investments in public assets that foster rural growth and community welfare through support to Secretariats of Agriculture in agricultural planning and information systems.
- Continuing to work with regional LRU offices to support the processing of an additional 2,100 restitution cases, including restitution of an ethnic territory in Cesar that will benefit approximately 1,800 people.
- Working with local authorities to mobilize resources necessary to comply with restitution rulings, as framed in the Territorial Action Plans developed with LRDP support.
- Identifying key barriers faced by women in securing their restitution rights and developing policy guidelines to overcome these barriers.
- Drawing on guidelines developed for restitution judges to enable lawyers from the LRU to better prepare and present victims’ cases.
- Designing and launching information systems that enable regional governments to track compliance with judicial rulings on restitution, strengthen producer linkages to markets and service providers, generate resources to support productive projects and store information on formalized land parcels.