Advocacy Results in a Stronger Property Institute

  • May 19, 2017

The Honduran Property Institute has historically been one of the most corrupt and mismanaged government institutions. This mismanagement hurts thousands of Honduran families, who, because of weaknesses in the system are not able to register their homes and land as theirs. Without the legal title to their property, they live with the fear that everything they worked so hard to build could be taken from them.

In 2015, AJS presented a baseline study evaluating the management and transparency of the Property Institute. The government institution scored a dismal 19%. But AJS staff did more than criticize the poor management, they offered clear, detailed proposals about how the institution could improve. Now, two years later, AJS has reevaluated the Property Institute and has found dramatic improvement. For the 2015-2016 period, the institute earned a score of 69%.

While there continues to be room for further reforms, a 50-point improvement is unprecedented and worthy of recognition.

One of AJS’s proposals for the Property Institute was to keep detailed account of its budget, tracking how much the institution spent on different key processes. Prior to AJS intervention, the institute had no record of how much it cost, on average to register a home or a vehicle, or to survey a plot of land.

After a year of consistently tracking this information, AJS was able to demonstrate that the Property Institute had reduced the cost per land registration process by 53%. This tracking also provided valuable information into personnel needs. In the land surveying department, for example, personnel decreased by 31%, but production increased by 74% – a 150% total increase in productivity.

This information is essential for reforms. “With this process, both institutions seek to make the administration of the institution more efficient and transparent,” said José Noé Cortés, executive secretary of the Property Institute (IP).

“What we do not measure, we cannot improve,” added Ebal Díaz, who sits on the IP’s directors’ council.

Beyond more careful management within the Property Institute, AJS also presented advancement in the services it offers. After years of land titles being sporadically delivered, if they were delivered at all, 10,000 titles were delivered in 2016, granting security to thousands of Honduran families.

“This report reflects the efforts carried by the Property Institute as well as the challenges to overcome in the system,” said Carlos Hernández, president of AJS-Honduras,

“Nonetheless, we consider this the first step towards the construction of a more solid and efficient system in favor of the most vulnerable,”

A group of U.S. lawyers have been involved in reforms in the Property Institute for years. Find an interview on their view on advocacy and the substantive change they’ve seen.

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