LAND TITLE UNCERTAINLY DELAYS SAMOA REBUILDING

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Relocation of villages leads to ownership disputes

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Jan. 19, 2010) - Habitat for Humanity New Zealand says the main difficulty with the rebuilding efforts in Samoa is determining clear titles to the land.

Samoa’s Prime Minister has told people to be patient following criticism that the government is too slow to rebuild hundreds of tsunami-devastated family homes.

But Habitat for Humanity’s project manager for the Samoa Rebuild, Maea Luamanu, says it’s the issue of land tenure that is holding the process back.

He says the difficulty is 90 percent of the houses they’re re-establishing are being built in green areas where new infrastructure is required.

"So traditionally high up on the plateau, there’s been small farming patches. There’s now an influx of people that wouldn’t normally have been up there, some people have been established prior, but there are lots of new people as it were who may or may not have some hereditary access to the land,’" said Luamana. "That’s a good mix for disputes."

Maea Luamanu says there about 100 plots that are likely to be disputed and it’s not an easy issue to overcome considering the land titles court already has a backlog of disputes.

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