The World Bank in 2010/11 undertook an in-depth review of land governance and land policy in South Africa, with Urban LandMark managing the process and implementing a Land Governance Assessment Framework (LGAF) for South Africa.
The LGAF is a tool designed by the World Bank in collaboration with partners to help countries assess their policies and practices regarding land governance, setting a benchmark for comparison and monitoring of progress. The LGAF addresses the need to diagnose and benchmark land governance, helping countries prioritise reforms, and monitor progress over time. So far the LGAF 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 and public provision of land information, and dispute resolution and conflict management. The South African LGAF was complemented by an additional module on large-scale land acquisition.
The application of the LGAF framework within the South African context has proven useful in providing a 'snapshot' of the state of land governance in the country. 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 called socially dominated land markets. The LGAF has managed to expose the obvious successes and failures as well as the sophistication (or lack thereof) in different parts of the current system. Moreover, the duality of land governance - 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 has distilled the key findings into an easily accessible booklet. The booklet provides a succinct overview of land governance in South Africa while describing the complexity and challenges of land and land policy reform.