The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GoIRA) has taken significant strides in addressing land administration challenges over the recent past. Nearly four decades of devastating protracted conflict has further aggravated the land administration complexities. Prior to the conflict, a mere 30 percent of urban and about 10 percent of rural land areas had been registered with state institutions. Most of the property deeds have either been destroyed or are in a dire state. Multiple claims on the same piece of land have spiralled out of control. Land grabbing has been on the rise and a source of undermining governance, the rule of law and sustainable development. Land-related conflicts have been on the rise, further complicating peace consolidation in an explosive environment. Land administration functions had been spread across several institutions with overlapping mandates without any coordination mechanisms, which had further undermined institutional capacities to address the daunting land administration issues in the country.
In response to these and other challenges the GoIRA in May 2013 established the Afghanistan Independent Land Authority (ARAZI). Under the leadership, clear policy direction, guidance and strong political will of H.E President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani through the High Council of Land and Water platform, ARAZI has become a one-stop shop for all issues related to land administration in the country. Today, ARAZI is mandated as Afghanistan’s prime and sole, independent land administration, management and mapping body, managing state owned lands, and providing land related services and information to citizens, institutions and investors.
To fulfill its mandate, ARAZI adopted an institutional approach to establishing an effective institution capable of providing transparent, inclusive and just land administration services hence contributing to peace consolidation and economic development. The approach allows ARAZI to define: (i) ‘rules of the game’ – strategies, policies, rules and regulations that defines the environment within which the institution functions and delivers the required services; and (ii) ‘play of the game’ – institutional arrangements, human and technological capacities, functions and functional relationships, rights and obligations within the context of service delivery in land administration. The task is indeed daunting filled with significant risks of costly errors, which the government and people of Afghanistan could ill afford.
The people and institutions of Afghanistan and Turkey have had a long history of partnership and cooperation in many aspects of socio-cultural and economic sectors. Cooperation between the two countries in land administration bears witness to over 100 years. The Land Administration that existed until the creation of ARAZI in 2013 was an adaptation of the Ottoman system in early 1920s. The Republic of Turkey through sustained and significant efforts and investments have managed to come a long way and develop one of the best Land Administrations in the world. The journey has certainly not been easy and some of the trials and errors have entailed significant costs. The achievements have indeed been highly significant boasting a world class system capable of delivering sustainable, transparent, equitable and efficient services in land administration.
Nearly a century after the first cooperation in land administration, the Government of the Republic of Turkey has offered to share its experiences and technical knowhow with Afghanistan. ARAZI will be able to stand the shoulders of a giant in land administration, avoid costly errors and have direct access to the most appropriate and cutting-edge technical knowhow, policies, rules, regulations, institutional arrangements, use of appropriate technologies and modalities for delivering services. Adaptation of the Turkish Land Administration to the conditions and needs of Afghanistan is highly likely to speed the transformation process in ARAZI and enable the achievement of its stated mandate in a relatively short period of time.
I am grateful to the generous support provided by the Turkish government through the Turkish International Cooperation (TIKA) and the Land Administration Organisation (TKGM) in developing this programme document (IDPL). The expected support to implement the IDPL is indeed highly significant and ARAZI will have direct access to the accumulated experiences of TKGM and relevant institutions under the auspices of TIKA in land administration policies, institutional development and technical knowhow. The cooperation between the two countries is a manifestation of close cultural, strategic and historical partnerships among the people and institutions of Afghanistan and Turkey.
I would also like to thank the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations (FAO/UN) for facilitating this cooperation and providing technical oversight and ensuring international best practice. I am also grateful to the World Bank for providing technical oversight and inputs throughout the formulation process. I am certain this will be a successful endeavour in view of the significant political will from both Afghan and Turkish institutions and interest from international partners.