Son Tan – May 2011 - The gongs of the Dak Lay people resounded mightily at a ceremony for receiving the Land use Right Certificates in Son Tan village of Khanh Hoa Province, Central Vietnam. Although they settled down and had land assigned to them by the State more than a decade ago, they did not have the certificates or know the benefits associated with them.
Mr. Han Van Hao, a Cham ethnic, is growing a lot of mango, jackfruit, pomelo, and banana trees in his garden of approximately one hecta in order to earn more money to support his son who is studying in the city.
“We were assigned the land a long time ago, yet we do not have the full land use rights. It is said that we are going to be handed over the land use right soon. This is extremely good news to us, as from now on we will have the land use rights of our own. Once given the certificate, we will have the right to transfer or inherit it to our children. Moreover, we can pledge it as collateral to the bank in order to borrow money. In this way, our lives can be improved and we can contribute to the broader economy.”
Ms. Mau Thi Hong, 31 years old, from Dak Lay ethnic group, sitting in the house after receiving the certificate said: “I am very glad. For a long time I’ve just used the land without knowing that it belongs to me. But now with the care and concern of the State, I have been granted with the land use right certificate, and this made me very happy.”
At present, her family’s livelihood derives from the output of five cows, but she hopes that she could mortgage the land certificate to borrow more money to expand this herd to 10 to 15 cows. In doing so, she will improve her family’s economic condition.
The broader and faster provision of land use right certificates has been one of the results of the implementation the Vietnam Land Administration Project. This has been implemented over the past two years in nine provinces by the Vietnam Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, with the support of the World Bank and Australian Government. In contrast with earlier land programs, this initiative has devoted considerable attention to raising public awareness about land use rights and enhancing community participation in the land certification process. Special attention has been given to support for ethnic minorities.
Mr. Le Mong Diep, Director of the Department for Natural Resources and Environment of Khanh Hoa province and of the Provincial Project Implementation Office, said: "We acknowledge the biggest difficulty facing the project is that the project beneficiaries do not know their own rights and benefits. Therefore, we have to focus on awareness raising and disseminating government guidelines among people. We give a special attention to minority ethnic groups, who have lower understanding of land use right than the Kinh people. As a result, we have to pay more attention to them to show them their legal rights and benefits.”
When the people have understood, they make applications for the certificates, and take active part in the demarcation of their land and the process of preparation for the issuance of the certificates. Under the project, people are exempted from any payment for the Certifications, and the issuance process has been shortened.
“When carrying out the process of issuing land use certificates, I took the working team to each household to measure the land area. We also guided the the people to gather together their Family Residence book and Identification cards to facilitate the subsequent review by local authorities,” said Mr. Hao.
The names of both the husband and the wife are written in the certificates. This is an innovation applied in Vietnam since 2003 with the issuance of the new Land Law. Accordingly, both the husband and wife have the equal rights to their property.
Ms. Tran Thi Que, in Dao Dang hamlet, Hung Yen said: “As there are both the names of husband and wife, the husband cannot grab my part if there’s anything wrong in our relationship.”
Mr. Vu Van Bang living in the same hamlet agreed: “The land certificate must contain names of both the husband and the wife; otherwise, the husband may take it to gamble and lose everything.”
Thus, the project has contributed to the protection of women’s rights and benefits in using and possessing a significant common asset in cases of divorce or disputes within the family.
With the total investment of 100 million dollars, this is one of the biggest World Bank-funded land administration projects in the world. The Project is helping to modernize Vietnam’s land administration system and improve the quality and timeliness of land administration services.
Thus, the issuance of the certificates represents only an initial step. Many things remain to be done to assure the success of the project.
Nguyen The Dzung, a senior rural development specialist at the World Bank, who coordinates the Bank’s support to this project, said: “There remains a large agenda the People’s Committees and the Project Implementation Units have to pursue in order to create more favorable conditions for the people to put their land use rights into place. This includes, for example, updating and disseminating land information, training staff and improving capacity of Land Registration Offices so that they can better serve the people in their land transfers, inheritance or mortgage.”
By the end of the project in late 2013, more people will be happy to receive their land certificates which ensure their long-term rights to use their land to develop their family’s economy like these ethnic minority villagers. More people will also be able to enjoy the support from the Government.
Mr. Hao said: "As for me, I think the people here all expect that having provided us with the Certificates, the Government will continue ensuring our access to credit and other support programs so that we can improve our lives.”