Securing Land and Property Rights for All

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A land tool is a practical way to solve a problem in land administration and management. It is a way to put principles, policies and legislation into effect. The term covers a wide range of methods: from a simple checklist to use when conducting a survey, a set of software and accompanying protocols, or a broad set of guidelines and approaches. The emphasis is on practicality: users should be able to take a land tool and apply it (or adapt it) to their own situation.

Land tools may complement each other, or they may offer alternative ways of doing something. For example, one tool may give overall guidance on how to address a land-related issue, while another may give detailed instructions on how to deal with a particular aspect of the same issue, such as checking whether the different needs and situations of women and men are taken into account.

For land tools to benefit the poor and disadvantaged, they need to have certain features:

  • Affordable. They should be cheap enough both for the poor to afford (if they are required to pay user and maintenance fees), as well as for the government or other body that manages them.
  • Equitable and gender-responsive. The land tools should seek to treat everyone fairly, with particular attention to inequalities faced by women as compared to men.
  • Governance. The process of tool development should take into account how decisions are made regarding access to and use of land, how those decisions are implemented, and how conflicting interests in land are reconciled. Key elements of this include decision-making, implementation and conflict resolution, with emphasis on both process and outcomes.
  • Subsidiarity. To make sure they are sensitive to local situations and needs, the land tools should be capable of being applied at the lowest appropriate level of authority: by the community or at the lowest level of local government.
  • Sustainable. They should be capable of being implemented into the future without large-scale inputs from outside. Where possible, they should be self-financing through fees or taxes.
  • Systematic, large-scale. The land tools should be capable of being used at a large scale - city-wide or across a whole country, not just in a one-off, local manner. That means they must be flexible enough to deal with a wide range of situations, and capable of being replicated easily and at little cost.
  • Pro-poor. They should aim to reduce poverty. That means taking the situation and needs of the poor into account, and giving them a voice in decisions.



An Integrative Model Supporting the Holistic Approach to Land Issues


To reach the overall goal of poverty alleviation through land reform, improved land management and security of tenure, the GLTN Partners are in the process of developing18 key land tools which need to be addressed in order to deal with poverty and land issues at the country level, across all regions. Some of these tools are at an advanced stage of development and are being tested in selected countries (e.g. the Social Tenure Domain Model and Gender Evaluation Criteria), whereas others are still at the early stages of development.

The partners of GLTN believe that the existing lack of these tools is the main cause of failed implementation at scale of land policies worldwide. The18 tools under development are embedded in 5 overarching themes. However these tools cannot be addressed in technical isolation and 8 cross cutting issues have also been identified which need to be associated with the tool documentation, development and dissemination (e.g. land governance, gender, grassroots, etc.). These 18 tools are the basis for the GLTN work programme for the next 10 years.

In different countries different combinations of the 18 tools being developed and applied will be required. For example, tool development in a country on 3a regarding spatial units (on the Social Tenure Domain Model) might require development in conjunction with tools 1a (Enumerations for tenure security), 2d (Land readjustment (slum upgrading and/or post crisis) and 4c (Expropriation, eviction and compensation). For this reason, one cannot set up a perfect typology as all these tools are stand alones on the one hand but on the other hand they might have to be linked to other tools in different configurations depending on the country context.

The Land Tool Development section of the website provides two links, i.e. Themes, in which the tools are embedded, and Cross Cutting Issues.


1a. Enumerations for tenure security
1b. Continuum of land rights
1c. Deeds or titles
1d. Socially appropriate adjudication
1e. Statutory and customary
1f. Co-management approaches
1g. Land record management for transactability
1h. Family and group rights
admin and info
3a. Spatial units
3b. Modernising of land agencies budget approach
4a. Land tax for financial and land management
2a. Citywide slum upgrading
2b. Citywide spatial planning
2c. Regional land use planning
2d. Land readjustment (slum upgrading and/or post crisis)
5a. Regulatory framework for private sector
5b. Legal allocation of the assets of a deceased person (Estates administration, HIV/AIDS areas)
5c. Expropriation, eviction and compensation



The Challenge of Developing a Framework Which Meets the Needs of Multiple Social and Cultural Environments as well as the Highest Standards of Good Governance

One major challenge in the process of land tool development is to devise a flexible general framework which can be applied according to the needs of different countries. Another challenge is to ensure land policies take into account the broader urban governance principles of transparency, accountability, publicity, participation, and subsidiarity.

GLTN recognizes the demand for targeted tools. Among them are gendered tools, grassroots participation, culture or religiously formatted tools and land tools for post-conflict situations.

  1. Gendered land tools
    It is well recognized that implementation of women's land, property and housing rights is often frustrated by the lack of effective gendered land tools. Every existing tool must therefore be gendered and the challenge thereby is threefold: to genderize existing land tools and those under development; to evaluate and upscale existing gendered tools and to create new gendered tools in response to identified "gaps".

  2. Islamic land tools
    There are distinctive Islamic conceptions of land and property rights, varied in practice throughout the Muslim world. Though Islamic law and human rights are often important factors in conceptualization and their application, they intersect with State, customary and international norms in various ways. In doing so, they potentially offer opportunities for the development of 'authentic' Islamic land tools which can support the campaign for the realization of fuller land rights for various sections of Muslim societies, including women.

  3. Land Tools in Post Conflict/Disaster Context
    Land tools are mostly predicated on the existence of functioning institutions, systems and processes during peace time. If such tools are difficult to access and their delivery at best partly effective even during normal situations, the introduction of war, conflict or displacement dramatically alters the conditions in which the tools can operate to secure tenure. Mostly in such conditions, there is a breakdown of support systems and the exacerbation of land theft and invasion, in addition to newer threats to security of tenure. The Global Land Tool Network is considering how land tools, specific to post-conflict situations, can work without the assumed land agencies or guarantees. It is in the process of developing UN wide guidelines that recognizes the specific land challenges faced by post-conflict, reconstruction or transition States and the modified land tools that can be workable in such context.

Contact Info:

Location: Gigiri, UN Complex
Office: NOF South Wing Block 3
Telephone: +254 207623858
Email: gltn[at]

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