Land access for all


-Lands department moves into villages to provide services
The Ministry of Natural Resources is undergoing one of its most dynamic periods in its history. It is currently implementing what it calls the Rural Outreach Initiative where land administrative services are brought to them directly. Speaking to Minister of Natural Resources, Hon. Hugo Patt, he explained that this will become the norm of the department. He noted that depending on the size of the villages that they visit they spend between two and three days in the community. He added that applications are processed within 24 hours of initiation.
All the services provided by the Lands Department are moved to the various communities. Equipment including computers, photocopiers, files and personnel travel to the villages offering the services of the department. Minister Patt says that between 195 to 365 applications are processed per community.
So far, villages that have been serviced include, San Pedro, Cristo Rey, Carmelita, San Antonio Cayo, Dangriga, Bullet Tree Falls, Gales Point Manatee and Chan Chen. Under the initiative land documentations are regularized and parcels of land that are not yet surveyed are also done the cost of which is borne by the government. Outside of delivery of services, the process also acts as a dispute resolution mechanism. So far, 15 major land disputes have been resolved saving villagers hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs.
And while it appears that the entire work of the department has been put out into the communities, work continues at the department in Belmopan where at least 800 files are processed weekly for the rest of the country.
By the end of the year the department would have approved over 13,000 instruments, 4,000 more than what was accomplished last year.