In 2011, Urban LandMark implemented a South African Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF) for the World Bank. The LGAF is a diagnostic tool developed by the World Bank and its country partners to evaluate land governance at the national level. So far it has been applied in about 40 countries. The LGAF process includes the assessment of 21 land governance indicators which are grouped into five thematic areas: the legal and institutional framework, land-use planning, management and taxation, management of public land, public provision of land information, and dispute resolution and conflict management.
In accordance with the LGAF requirements, the country evaluation was undertaken in two ways. The first was the preparation of five reports completed by expert investigators. The second was the assessment of the dimensions and related pre-coded statements by eight expert panels. The findings were then included into eight panel reports and later into a consolidated national report on land governance in South Africa.
"The application of the LGAF exposed the broad realities of the state of land
governance in South Africa. For example, the country has a well-developed
economy, which includes a well-functioning formal land market alongside
informal land market systems, especially within the communal land areas,
which are steeped in oral tradition and practice. While not officially
recorded, these systems are efficient and effective. A similar argument could
be suggested for practices relating to access to the city and the functioning
of what are socially dominated land markets."
The application of the LGAF framework within the South African context has proved useful in providing a 'snapshot' of the state of land governance in the country. It has managed to expose the obvious successes and failures as well as the sophistication (and lack thereof) in different parts of the current system. The duality of land governance, namely the formal in juxtaposition to the informal, was well demonstrated through the use of the methodology.
To expand the reach of the LGAF South Africa project, Urban LandMark is now distilling the key findings into an easily accessible booklet for distribution. The booklet will provide a succinct overview of land governance in South Africa while describing the complexity and challenges of land and land policy reform.