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Report ties land reform to reduction of poverty

A white paper released yesterday by the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction argues that land policy reforms are inherently linked to poverty reduction.

The need for land-titling reform in particular is a consistent theme in the paper’s latest draft – the ninth produced by the ministry.

“Poverty risks of poor families can be reduced when there is growing ability [to use] land, especially when [land is guaranteed] through issuance of ownership titles,” the paper states.

But while seemingly offering de facto support for the country’s controversial land-titling program, the paper also has criticisms of the government’s land-management track record.

“[T]he management of state land and natural resources by competent institutions and all levels of local authorities who are responsible for land management are [problematic] over how land [policy] is supposed to [be] managed and implemented,” the document states.

The document, which covers issues ranging from gender equity in relation to land ownership to the illegal occupation of “state-owned land”, is the result of multiple inter-ministry meetings dating back to 2007, the ministry’s secretary of state, Lim Voan, said yesterday.

“This is the goal of our land policy, to manage use, and divide the land and natural resources fairly, transparently and effectively to reduce poverty, guarantee food security, and boost peoples living standards,” Voan said.

This version – the final copy – is designed to prevent land disputes and improve the management of natural resources, with a special emphasis on the grabbing of both state and private land. It is expected to be submitted to the Council of Ministers next year, according to Voan.

An employee of one of the NGOs contributing to the workshop who was not authorised to speak to the media said the document will be “shared electronically and circulated amongst private and public NGOs for feedback and input”, adding the next workshop was slated to commence in April.

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