PhD Defence by Mr Anthony Arko-Adjei
Dept. of Urban and Regional Planning and Geo-information Management
Title of defence:
Adapting Land Administration to the Institutional Framework of Customary Tenure
Since pre-colonial times, several attempts have been made to replace or modernise customary tenure systems in Africa, on the grounds that it is a recipe for underdevelopment, and thus a major cause of the region’s high levels of rural poverty. In many Sub-Saharan countries, a number of interventions have been made to formalise rights and to administer customary land, in the form of state-controlled institutions and statutes. However, their effectiveness as regulatory institutions and as laws to deal with customary tenure has yet to be realised. Land administration systems in many Sub-Saharan countries have been saddled with land conflicts, land grabbing, evictions, haphazard and unregulated land development, and so forth. Although these tenure insecurity problems occur in rural and urban areas, they are more pronounced in peri-urban areas where customary tenure system has undergone several changes in response to high levels of land development and changes in land use. During recent decades, a new paradigm for approaching the formalisation of rights and the administration of land in customary areas has emerged in policy and research. This new approach favours the implementation of formalisation in a progressive, incremental and gradual manner, and tailored to local conditions.
The central issue investigated in this study is how land administration systems in peri-urban areas can be adapted to the tenure and institutional frameworks of customary tenure systems. The study focuses on three prominent issues that act as significant scientific and practical constraints towards the recognition of customary rights and the local administration land. This was done in a systematic approach based on case study, conducted in three peri-urban customary areas in Ghana.
The first issue concerns the question of how land administration systems can manage the dynamics of tenure in ways that allow the diverse needs of various stakeholders in peri-urban customary areas to be met. This issue will require a critical analysis of how Ghana’s customary tenure systems are adapting to the effects of urbanisation, demographic change, socio-economic pressure, and statutory interventions. The results shows that, although there are important differences between the tenure systems and the level of change across the three study areas, especially between northern and southern Ghana, some common observations were made in changes in the land ownership, land-use rights, modes of transferring interest in land, and land-use practices. The results indicate that the needs of peri-urban dwellers are dynamic, as are their tenure systems. There is a strong trend towards the individualisation and commercialisation of customary land rights. This trend towards individualisation has affected intra-family and social relations in the studied areas. The security of usufructuary rights has also been significantly reduced. On the other hand, institutional dynamics have enabled customary tenure institutions to introduce innovations in the land delivery process, in response to these changes. From this findings, it is concluded that innovations introduced in the institutional arrangements can help in the search for alternative arrangements to secure rights in peri-urban areas, where new forms of tenure relation need to be supported by proactive measures that call for an enhanced range of institutions and skills.
The issue relates to whether customary tenure institutions can meet good governance requirements in land administration. The assessment was based on indicators built on five governance dimensions that are considered crucial to any thorough assessment of good governance in customary tenure systems. These dimensions are: participation, equity, transparency, accountability, and efficiency and effectiveness. While the study shows local variations in land governance across the three customary areas studied, more importantly, drawing on the case evidence, one can identify a number of limited general observations. Comparing the five governance dimensions, one can conclude that participation and equity in customary land delivery appear to be good, transparency appears to be satisfactory, but accountability and efficiency and effectiveness appear to be weak. Nevertheless, it can be concluded that customary tenure institutions can potentially meet good governance objectives in land administration, if and when they are strengthened and supported in the right way.
The third issue regards how local communities can meet the capacity requirements to administer land effectively. In this aspect of the study, the potential of participatory GIS (PGIS) to enhance indigenous knowledge and local capacity for land administration was investigated. An appraisal of PGIS shows that the locals are knowledgeable about the changes that have occurred in their land tenure systems. The scale maps produced during the participatory mapping exercises were also found to be reasonably useful for land administration purposes. The maps clearly show the hierarchy of complex rights and interests associated with the ownership, control and use of customary land. These have evolved over time and had previously only been recorded in local collective memory. The maps can play an important role in the identification of underlying rights in customary land. The PGIS tools appeared to be readily accessible, understandable and usable – essential features, given the education and skill levels in peri-urban communities. The PGIS and the p-mapping processes also contributed – positively, although not comprehensively – to the empowerment of the community, by improving dialogue and the acquisition of skills. The locals demonstrated their ability to carry out the PGIS approach independently. The ability to use PGIS tools with little professional support clearly indicates that local communities can use such tools to carry out day-to-day tenure documentation activities, and are thus in a position to administer their own land with little support. On the whole, the PGIS proved to be a useful tool for uncovering such indigenous knowledge and creating empowerment.
Reflecting on the study, it is clear that although there are differences in the findings from the three case study areas, sophisticated rules, processes and institutions are not needed to provide security of tenure and an effective framework for administering tenure relations in customary areas. The adaptation paradigm can therefore be witnessed in peri-urban Ghana. Customary institutions are to some extent already coping with the dynamics of change, and if supported, could take the lead in an adapted, phased land administration strategy.
The framework for an adapted, phased land administration strategy is conceptualised at two main levels: those of strategy and implementation. At the strategic level, land sector agencies, local government authorities and other professional institutions develop proactive policies to coordinate, monitor, evaluate and regulate the implementation of land administration activities at the local level. At the level of implementation, land administration activities are executed by customary tenure institutions. Three tenure models are proposed that can be secured at different phases of tenure evolution. The tenure models emphasise the security of group tenure in Phase I, which is applicable in rural areas where customary tenure is stable. Phase II tenure aims at the issuing of certificates to individuals, and is applicable in peri-urban areas where there is economic pressure on land. Phase III tenure aims to provide titles for individual rights in land. The institutional arrangements required to implement the proposed land administration strategies at the local level emphasise the role played by innovative land tenure tools that can secure these different types of tenure at an affordable cost.
Anthony Arko-Adjei was born on the 21st of July 1970 at Japekrom, in the Brong-Ahafo Region of Ghana. He obtained his BSc degree in Geodetic Engineering in 1997 from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi, Ghana. He worked as a Teaching Assistant in the Department of Geodetic Engineering Department of the same university from 1997 to 1999. He obtained his MSc degree in Geo-information Management for Cadastral Applications in 2001 from the International Institute of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), Enschede, the Netherlands. From 2002 to date, he worked as a Lecturer in the Geomatic Engineering Department, KNUST. His work focus on teaching, research and consultancies in cadastral and engineering surveying, land administration and application of geographic information systems in these fields. On land administration the focus of his research, consultancy services and publications is focused on customary tenure, geo-information management and cadastral surveying. He was involved in the establishment and management of the GISNATUREM programme, a collaborative MSc programme between ITC and KNUST. Between 2004 and 2006 he was the Monitoring and Evaluation focal person representing the Geomatic Engineering Department on the Land Administration Project. He was the Local Coordinator of the refresher course on ‘Geo-information for land administration in Africa: trends and innovation’ which was organised in KNUST. During his PhD study at ITC, he assisted in various forms of teaching, MSc thesis supervision and also as a resource person for the refresher courses organised by the Land Administration and Informed Governance research team in Namibia and Tanzania. He is a member of the Ghana Institution of Surveyors (GhIS).
|Event starts:||Tuesday 10 May 2011 at 12:00|
|City where event takes place:||Delft|
|Country where event takes place:||Netherlands|