Improved land administration based on secure land rights of local people is key to increasing agricultural productivity

Credit: Neil Palmer / CIAT. Improved land administration based on secure land rights of local people is key to increasing agricultural productivity

January 2011 - Land registration in Ghana has historically been cumbersome and disorganized. As a result, thousands of titles remain unregistered and land conflicts are rife. Of the 42,000 applications for land registration submitted between 1986 and 2006, less than 30 percent were registered. Land conflicts arise as claimants take advantage of the poorly coordinated system and register titles without other claimants’ knowledge. The adjudication system for conflicts is weak, courts are overwhelmed, and decisions are poorly enforced.

Since colonial times, Ghana’s land sector has suffered from splintered institutional functions and an underdeveloped land registration system. But, the government and international donors are beginning to address these challenges through legal reforms and more systematic land registration. 

As of January 2011, several projects are seeking to strengthen the land sector in Ghana and formalize tenure. These include: the Government of Ghana’s Land Administration Project (LAP), which is supported by the World Bank; the Millennium Development Authority’s Land Tenure Facilitation Activity supported by the US; and private sector programs led by Medeem LLC as well as the Micro-Mortgage and Land Titling Project led by Opportunity International and International Land Systems (ILS).

Under the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), Ghana is implementing a pilot project in peri-urban Accra to title and register land. The ten-step process begins with a parcel inventory and involves verification by land owners, and a time for public scrutiny. It takes 31 days for 100 parcels and costs about $200-$250 per registered parcel. To date, MiDA has issued and registered 270 land titles using this process.

It is uncertain how the Government of Ghana would scale-up projects nationwide. Challenges persist in terms of making the process simple, efficient and cost effective for both landholders and land administration authorities. Unless the “costs” associated with land registration are sufficiently low vis-a-vis the benefits perceived by landholders, land registration records can rapidly become obsolete, jeopardizing the investments made to reform registration systems. 

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