Namibia needs capacity and skills development in the area of land administration to manage the most valuable but finite and scarce resource. Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Minister Calle Schlettwein shared these sentiments when he officiated at the international e-launch of the structured knowledge base teaching essentials on responsible land administration for academic teaching, training and research activities within land governance and land administration-related fields.
He believes that improved land administration systems are essential for achieving national developmental goals with respect to poverty reduction, improved access to services and reduced land degradation. “As a developing nation, this is opportune for Namibia. I believe land administration systems can further reduce land conflicts and improve tenure security. For any institution, most importantly those implementing land administration-related activities, there will be a need for specialised expertise to guide and support improved land governance and enhance the existing legal and institutional frameworks,” the minister said.
Speaking during the e-launch, Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST) vice chancellor Erold Naomab said the university joined Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) in 2020 as a partner in the international research and training cluster. “These tools will be essential in supporting the design and content of the courses for teaching and learning open to NUST and all stakeholders in the land sector,” he added.
Schlettwein stated that the need for capacity and skills development in this area is fast-growing, if not already urgent, when one considers the current increase in urban population and related economic developments, which increase not only the demand for land, but the pressure thereon as well.
Besides skills shortages in land administration, the land question remains a contentious issue in Namibia, compounded by endless land grabs by desperate citizens.
According to the politician, it would not be accurate to say that Namibia does not face challenges with respect to land.
With many Namibians yearning for a place to call home, countless numbers have resorted to land grabs over the years across the country.
A case in point is the recent series of land grabs by Windhoek residents, who between July and August 2021 started marking plots for themselves near the Kilimanjaro, Otjomuise and Okahandja Park areas. Such actions saw some politicians calling on local authorities to hold discussions on making land more affordable to the people.
However, Schlettwein defended stakeholders at local and national levels as actively working to address these through the implementation of various urban and rural land reform programmes.
In the urban context, the flexible land tenure system has reached advanced stages of implementation, while in the rural areas, communal land registration has improved tenure security and enhanced access to investments in land through the registration of leasehold.
In attempts to address the skills shortage, the ministry has been a supporter and promoter of land administration capacity development in collaboration with NUST from as early as 1996.
It grew to become a fully-fledged programme at university level, training land surveyors admissible for registration as professional land surveyors by the Council of Land Surveyors in Namibia. On land tenure security, the minister said it is vital in the quest for improved livelihoods, reduced environmental degradation and increases investments in land.
“Land is a most valuable but finite and scarce resource. It is currently a resource which is not equitably shared. Land reform is intertwined with historical, political, constitutional-legal, economic, traditional and ancestral rights issues, and is currently a most complex and sometimes contentious issue. It is indeed a matter that concerns and impacts on every citizen,” he stressed.
Therefore, the ministry as the direct implementer of land reform-related activities in Namibia must have a solid skills and knowledge base to meaningfully and fairly implement this complex reform.