IFAD, ILC and ANGOC (the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development) are looking to transform the way data on people’s land tenure security is collected, understood and used in the Philippines.
A new report, launched by the three organisations, highlights the need to use diverse and inclusive data sources in order to better understand the complexities of land tenure and monitor the country's progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Specifically, the report focuses on SDG indicator 1.4.2, which measures progress towards improved rates of land tenure security for the total adult population, based on evidence of documentation of property rights and perceptions of tenure security.
The Philippines has a long history of struggles for equal access to and ownership of land, which has been highly regulated since 1986. Despite this, data related to land tenure security highlights a number of concerns and challenges.
While no SDG data has been reported by the Philippines on indicator 1.4.2, the Philippine Statistical Authority (PSA) – tasked with 1.4.2 data collected – has been using a proxy indicator to measure land tenure security. But this data, as currently collected, is inadequate and does not reflect the rural reality of many communities in the Philippines.
Currently, this proxy data estimates the national rate of tenure security at more than 96%. Beyond being an overestimation of tenure security, the data does not capture those living on farmlands and does not include common resources such as ancestral domains and municipal fishing grounds. Likewise, the indicator includes rent or lease as a form of tenure security, while indicator 1.4.2 excludes it.
The method by which data is collected is another important consideration. For indicator 1.4.2, the PSA relies on self-declarations of ownership without requiring proof of it. Experience shows, however, that survey respondents tend to declare that they own the property they are occupying, even though their claims are not legally recognised, for fear of being evicted.
This is where citizen-led, people's data comes in. Using official data, but also people-centered data centralized through LANDex, project-level data from IFAD and data generated with target groups, we get a clearer picture of the land tenure situation. For example, global data collected by Prindex estimates that 86% of people in the rural Philippines have some kind of documentation proving their rights to their property, but only 57% of them perceive their tenure security to be secure. Women are an estimated 4% less secure than men and those living on community land are the least secure, at 11% on average.
While no SDG data is available for indicator 5.a.1 (which measures the extent of women's disadvantages in ownership of and rights to agricultural land), best available data shows that 33% of all agrarian reform beneficiaries are women. In absence of an official evaluation of the framework for women's land rights – in SDG 5.a.2 – a citizen-led assessment carried out through LANDex gave an indication of which proxies had been met and where more progress was needed.
This past May, ILC members were invited to present LandMonitor findings at a learning exchange hosted by the PSA, together with IFAD and members of the Philippines National Land Coalition.
The exchange was an opportunity to reflect on the state of land tenure security in the country and to plan for ways to strengthen citizen-generated data in government land agencies.
In response, the PSA noted that proxy indicators were based on what was available from the existing data collection in the Philippine Statistical System and therefore the indicators may not be in complete alignment with the global SDGs. It was, however, agreed that they would consider revisiting the indicator to exclude renters or leased property and explore the possibility of including farmlands.
One of the main takeaways of the exchange was a common observation by civil society participants and the PSA on how to strengthen administrative land data of the various government land agencies. On this, the PSA has committed to link civil society in the various Interagency Committees so they can present their inputs on methodology and data gathering tools, which are currently under development.
“CSOs and land agencies should work together to develop a consensus working definition of tenure security and to discuss how to produce accurate nationally consolidated tenure security data,” says Don Marquez, Executive Director of the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC) - an ILC member. “This will be a challenging process involving many consultations and discussions; however, it is necessary, considering the centrality of land tenure issues in addressing the country’s problems of poverty and disempowerment.”
Both ANGOC and the PSA noted the importance of having the space to discuss and learn from each other and committed to working together to establish a possible mechanism by which such a collaboration could become more concrete.
The exchange was considered a successful first step in the development of a tighter collaboration between the PSA and civil society organisations in the collection and reporting of tenure security data in the country.
"The PSA is continuously working to strengthen the collection and compilation of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) data, including indicators related to tenure security," says Benjamin Arsenio Navarro from the PSA. "The PSA had previously conducted an assessment of SDG indicators in the country to determine their tier classification from a national perspective. Through this review, the PSA was able to identify which indicators lack established methodology or are not regularly collected."