Garowe, 17 January 2017 - UN-Habitat recently organized a consultation workshop in Garowe to discuss the drafting of the Urban Land Management Law and the revision of regulations for Land Dispute Committees. Among the 43 participants were officials from local and state government (particularly the Puntland Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Public Works and Transport), technical advisors, elders, members of Land Dispute Committees, lawyers, teachers from Puntland State University, and representatives of local and international non-governmental organizations.

Land conflict in Puntland’s large cities and towns is on the rise as urbanization itself increases. The main objective of the workshop was to discuss the jurisdiction of the Land Dispute Committees, their composition and accountability, and applicable laws. Prior to the workshop, UN-Habitat, in collaboration with Legal Action Worldwide (LAW), had produced a report on how to harmonize customary law practice in Puntland with the formal legal system. In various focus group discussions, which included elders and women, Legal Action Worldwide’s Clare Brown explained the recommendations of the report.

This led to debates on the participation of women in the committees, and the Ministry of Interior has agreed to utilize both the report and the group discussions for the final document that will formalize the Land Dispute Committees in Puntland. Also under discussion was how to organize consultations for the long-awaited Urban Land Management Law. Puntland’s Minister for Public Works and Transport, Mr. Abdirashid Mohamed Hersi, who opened the workshop on the second day, advised the participants to have a draft road map ready by July 2017.

Participants acknowledged the formation of a task force to be led by the Ministries of Interior, Public Works and Transport, and Environment. Supported by a lawyer, an urban planner, and a land expert, the task force will facilitate public consultations on the draft law. Participants recommended that the consultations be fewer but more intensive and inclusive. UN-Habitat supports various implementation activities under the UN Joint Programme on Local Governance and Decentralized Service Delivery, including the development and implementation of activities under the Urban Regulatory Framework that summarize planning standards, principles, and procedures for urban planning.

Lessons learned from the recently finalized Bossaso City Extension Plan (the first spatial development plan in Puntland following the framework) will be incorporated into the law-drafting process. The Urban Land Management Law, which has been pending since 2005, shall specify the responsibilities for undertaking urban development plans. It shall also regulate, plan, implement, and develop management through the building permit process, land allocation, land use procedures, and land conflict resolution tools. In February 2017, technical experts will meet for the first round of discussions on the law’s structure, facilitated by UN-Habitat’s Garowe Office.