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Map all lands to curb disputes - Land Conference

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
Benito Owusu-Bio,Deputy Minister of Lands and Forestry speaking at the closing session of the National Lands Conference
Benito Owusu-Bio,Deputy Minister of Lands and Forestry speaking at the closing session of the National Lands Conference

Participants in the National Land Conference in Accra have called on the government to take urgent steps to survey and map all customary and state land boundaries across the country as a matter of priority.

In addition, the conference stressed the need for the government to comprehensively map out the boundaries of metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) to reduce the numerous land ownership disputes in the country.

The conference said this must be anchored on a comprehensive programme for the registration of land as mandated by the 1992 Constitution and the Land Act, 2020 (Act 1036).

A land tenure expert and representative of Ghana Institution of Surveyors, Dr Odame Larbi, who read a 23-point communiqué at the end of the four-day conference in Accra last Friday, said comprehensively mapping the country “at large, medium and small scales” would facilitate land use planning and spatial development for rapid economic development.

The conference again called on the Lands Commission to make conscious efforts to digitalise the country’s land administration system for sustainable development.

Participants at the conference were drawn from land sector agencies, the Parliamentary Select Committee on Lands, traditional authorities, civil society organisations (CSOs), farmers and fishermen’s organisations, professional associations, religious groups, private sector, academia and development partners.

They discussed pertinent issues in the land sector, particularly the challenges in both the state and customary land tenure systems in the country.

Challenges

Among the challenges were indeterminate boundaries of customary and state lands; uncontrolled sprawl of human settlements by metropolitan, municipal and district assembly boundaries (MMDAs); encroachment on fertile agricultural lands; destruction of water bodies through illegal mining; under-resourced land sector agencies; limitations in coordinated land sector services; land data capture, management and related security challenges.

Dr Larbi said the conference observed that as a way forward to addressing these challenges, there was the need for the government to facilitate prompt action towards the development of regulations on the Land Act and a Land Act implementation strategy.

Aside from that, the conference called on the government to provide adequate resources for the implementation and enforcement of laws on land, land use planning and spatial development.

To facilitate effective land administration, the conference called on the government to make resources available for the Lands Commission to complete the digitalisation of the land administration system over the next three years.

Dr Larbi also called on the government to provide resources to review the 1999 National Land Policy and formulate a new one to take on board the new challenges and emerging issues of the sector.

The conference called for resources to be provided for the establishment and strengthening of customary land secretariats (CLSs) to effectively support customary land administration.

Dr Larbi emphasised the need to review the formula for disbursing customary land revenue to provide more resources to customary land owners for sustaining CLSs for customary land administration

Moratorium

The conference called on the government to activate processes for the imposition of a moratorium on small-scale mining to stop the devastating impact of illegal mining activities on the land.

Dr Larbi stressed that since land formed the basis for all development activities in the country and also served as the source of livelihood for the majority of people, it was important for the government to take bold measures to protect the natural resource from destruction.

Assurance

The Deputy Minister for Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Lands and Forestry, Benito Owusu-Bio, who closed the conference, called on the stakeholders to play their respective roles in making land administration better.

Mr Owusu-Bio assured the participants that the report of the conference would inform the next steps at the ministry.