Few empirical impact assessments of land titling have measured the sustainability of the land title registration system.
Since Rwanda is conducting a land registration, it has a lot to learn from other countries during the process, especially those of EAC where it is an active member.
My case of analysis is Tanzania and Kenya where Pinckney and Kimuyu (1994) compared titled areas in Kenya with untitled areas in Tanzania to determine the difference in the volume of transactions between the locations.
While Kenya had been the subject of land titling, the Government of Tanzania had been concerned that titling would result in loss of equity in landholding and had nationalized and leased land instead to occupants.
The study found that there was no difference in the number of transactions, formal or informal, between the two locations.
The study also found an insignificant number of land secured loans in the Kenyan sample and no land-secured loans in the Tanzanian sample.
The researchers therefore concluded that land titling in Kenya had not led to an increase in transactions, both formal and informal, and that the tenacity of the customary tenure had negated the impact.
Place and Migot-Adholla (1998), re-examining data from the study , found incomplete evidence to support any significant effect of registration and land titling on the perception of security of tenure, on the use of credit by landowners, on agricultural productivity and on land sales and the reallocation of land.
They suggested a redirection of resources towards other measures if an increase in agricultural productivity were the goal.
Security of tenure was measured, in the Kenyan study, by the incidence of land titles, by the incidence of current registration, and by enumerating the use rights perceived to be held and the number of land related disputes, including boundary and legitimacy disputes that had occurred.
The number of sales and leases that had occurred was also measured to determine the impact of land titling on the land market and on land concentration.
The study found 34.6% of titles were held under the current household head and 57.7% of parcels were correctly recorded in the registry, pointing to problems in the sustainability of the registration system and also leading to conclusions that the landholders perceived security of tenure even without current registration.
This led them to the conclusion that the lack of demand by the farmers, costs of registration, lack of awareness, and corrupt or bureaucratic institutional processes were the reasons for the lack of sustainability.
They attributed lack of transactions of sale to the indigenous tenure system restricting the demand for and the social approval to perform transactions on land.
While the project systematically adjudicated and surveyed in rural areas, new settlers were required to pay for land before they could obtain title.
This was therefore a significant factor that would have impacted on the sustainability of the land title registration system and the perceptions of tenure security experienced by the occupants.
Though many occupants of land did not pay and thus were not eventually titled, the government’s policy was not to remove the occupants, so few parcels had been repossessed.
While this policy would have negatively affected incentives to register, it would have positively impacted on perceived security of tenure but not on documentary security of tenure.
The author is a Master’s student in urban planning, Canada