NRI on urbanisation projects

Informal customary land transactions between landowners and migrants at Taurama Valley in the National Capital District provides key lessons for future planning and implementation of urbanisation projects.

The NRI Research Report No.12: “Dynamics of informal customary land transactions between landowners and migrants at Taurama Valley, National Capital District” authored by Dr Elizabeth Kopel, Dr. Linus Digim’Rina, Lewis Iwong and Cathy Tukne revealed the major potential source of ongoing conflict between the landowners and the migrants.

The authors said that while landowners assume that they have ownership rights, settlers also assume permanency of settlement and make major investments by constructing homes and/or doing businesses. This is the key source of the ongoing conflict at Taurama Valley. Informal land transactions also have a negative impact on landowning families. 

The authors reported that a major impact project planned by the government for implementation on customary land at Taurama Valley known as the ‘Taurama urbanisation pilot project’ in 2012 was abandoned when landowners sold/leased land informally to settlers before the project could be implemented.

Any intervention to bring a lasting solution for Taurama will be challenging as it needs to engage not just with landowners but also with migrants and the investments they have made on the land.

Policy recommendations of future urbanisation projects are the following:

  • Thorough process of stakeholder analysis and engagement of all key stakeholders in every stage of the project planning and implementation cycle should be considered;
  • Give recognition to and promote the use of mediation to resolve issues related to land and other matters for urban peripheral areas like Taurama;
  • Policy should set broad guidelines to be implemented locally (by provinces and districts) applying simpler, user-friendly local models and practices consistent with national goals;
  • Improve on packaging and dissemination of information on existing government policy and intervention strategies; and,
  • Interventions to address common concerns for landowners and migrants such as provision of basic services and infrastructure and, facilitating the process for landowners to maintain ownership and collect ongoing rental dues from settlers.

The Publication can be accessed on the PNG NRI website   

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