PhD Defence Eva-Maria Unger

resonsible land administration in disaster risk management - approaches for modelling, integrated governance and policy transfer of people, land and disasters

Responsible Land Administration (LA) continuously seeks to align the technical processes of LA to dynamic local societal demands, economic conditions, and legal requirements. It is motivated by the desire to improve the land tenure security of vulnerable and marginalized groups. Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and especially community-based disaster risk management (CBDRM) aims to evaluate and manage natural disaster risks at the local level – and emphasises the role of communities when it comes to natural disasters. However, responsible LA has so far received minimal attention in Disaster Risk Management (DRM), and likewise, LA design often neglects the potential requirements of DRM. This is even though the number of natural disasters and the people affected increased significantly in recent decades.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development with its defined Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), together with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, stimulate innovative and transformative approaches to secure land and property rights for all (UN, 2015). Consequently, there is growing agreement on the need to adopt responsible LA approaches, ones that better address the needs of the poor living in disaster prone contexts. Ultimately, responsible LA should enable the poor to minimise vulnerabilities and disaster risks through an inclusive land tenure security approach that supports prevention, mitigation, preparation, respond to and recover from natural disasters.

The absence of a theoretical framework linking the LA and DRM domains, the lack of methods enabling integrated technical approaches and responses, including data capture and management, and limited evidence from local level initiatives, hampers the adoption of an integrated approach. Therefore, an integrated approach for responsible LA in DRM is needed. To this end, this thesis sought to understand and demonstrate how responsible LA can be combined with DRM, via concepts and tools, in a way that is people-serving, efficient and effective from global down to local levels. For this purpose, four specific objectives are addressed.

First, to illustrate the theoretical linkages within responsible LA in DRM, a conceptual framework is developed. The model explains the interactions between global change forces, disaster risk drivers, and foundational land administration constructs. Conceptual modelling, with knowledge acquisition and model abstraction mechanisms, is used to undertake the task. These methods are used to examine the interrelations and interactions between the three identified and fundamental global change forces (people, land and disaster) and the three disaster risk drivers (vulnerability, exposure and hazard). The results are used to develop a graphically visualised conceptual framework. The utility of the conceptual work is examined through its application to literature-based cases studies from Kenya, the Philippines, India and Haiti. These show starkly the link and the possible contributions of responsible LA to DRM. Within those, especially participatory approaches are identified as critical with regards to creating implementable responsible LA strategies in the context of DRM.

Second, in order to support such an integrated approach in its application at national, local and community level, a conceptual data model is developed, linking the domains of LA and DRM to support resilience to natural disasters. The LA-DRM, conceptual data model, is then developed using a design approach, with a supportive literature review, studying various tools and standards used in LA and DRM. This model supports interoperability and standardisation measures to access and share diverse information answering the basic questions regarding, ‘What?’ ‘Where?’ and ‘How?’ with regard to impacted individuals and communities. Hence, the supportive data model enables the integration of LA and DRM. The work shows that it is possible to further link LA and DRM, at the level of data capture, storage, and application. To emphasise the linkage, the potential of the LA-DRM model in each of the DRM phases is graphically illustrated.

Third, there is limited evidence of local initiatives testing an integrated approach to the application of responsible land tools applied in DRM post-earthquake contexts. Using a case study approach, the application of the developed conceptual data model, LA-DRM, together with innovative land tools, is tested in Dolakha, Nepal. Further analysis on the effects and hindrances of an incomplete LA system in a post disaster context are presented. The case study identifies that vulnerable or at-risk groups are children, elderly, persons with disabilities, women, the poor and marginalized, and especially people affected by tenure insecurity. The research highlights that DRM policies have to be redirected towards tenure security, poverty and vulnerability reduction, instead of only short-term compensation, resettlement and relief responses. It substantially proves the importance of documenting all people-to-land relationships in order to prepare, mitigate, respond to and recover from natural disasters.

Having established the fundamental link at theoretical, methodological and technical level, opportunities and limitations of policy transfer within LA and DRM are assessed. Using an action research inspired approach, the key characteristics of policy transfer for two frameworks, Framework for Effective Land Administration (FELA) and Strategic Framework for Geoinformation Services for Disaster (SFGISD), related to tenure security and natural disasters developed by the United Nations are assessed. This assessment focused on the identification of which mode, institutional or network, the two policy frameworks are following. The results show that even though the two frameworks follow conventional institutional means, network measures are also being utilised. The assessment framework which is adapted in this research could further be used for future policy transfer processes relevant for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

In conclusion, responsible LA can be used in DRM as a fundamental instrument to mitigate and respond to natural disasters. Further studies have to be conducted to apply a similar holistic approach on other domains/global challenges, to enhance understandings of effective LA, a term which is introduced in this research. The results of this thesis contribute to knowledge and literature, by highlighting the potential of an integrated approach for responsible LA in DRM at theoretical, methodological technical and policy diffusion levels. This is especially relevant since both disciplines are integrated and intrinsically linked with various themes reflected in the SDGs. Further for the case study area in Nepal, the results show the need for responsible land policies addressing all forms of tenure especially in a post-disaster context. The Fit-For-Purpose Land Administration (FFPLA) application in Nepal led to a wide acceptance within both the surveying community as well as the Nepalese people and government, which led to the 2019 National Land Policy recognising informal tenure and equitable access to land for the landless, small holders and informal settlers in Nepal. Finally, with regards to other societal challenges and needs, the research shows that a holistic approach strengthens the demand for, and the possibilities of, interlinkages with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 5Ps (People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership) and the domain of LA.