Growing a Decentralised and Incorruptible Land Registry

Land registries have traditionally been centralised databases set up and secured by governments. In some cases, they have been used corruptly to deprive people of their property rights, both formal and customary (see In most cases, the database is not fully and freely accessible to the public.

Blockchain technology provides a way for people who have a claim to land rights to set up a decentralised and incorruptible database that serves as a land registry. Because of the nature of the technology, it cannot be altered once information has been entered, and all the information it contains is freely available to the public.

The advent of non-governmental and community-instigated land registry is something that is already popping up here and there, for example, in Ghana. It has come about because it was needed by so many people that, as soon as blockchain technology made it possible, multiple projects using a range of related approaches soon started to make a difference in the world. Interestingly, just as with those of us who are making voluntary ground rent contributions, the motivations vary, as do the aims of the various projects.

A permanent and open record of agreements of who has title to which land within communities accomplishes all that a functional government-based land records system does such as:

  • provide a community-agreed, time-stamped record of claim to land by those who may have used it, but who have no legal proof nor claim for it, and thus prevent its sale by others;
  • prevent disputes or ease their resolution;
  • provide a proof of ‘ownership’ in societies where the objective is to enable people to borrow money against their land value for entrepreneurship;
  • provide proof of title for projects such as the making of voluntary ground rent contributions.

The use of blockchain technology as the primary land record means it’s something that need not wait for government or funding.

At present, those making voluntary ground rent contributions have not chosen or adopted any of the technologies being piloted. If anyone has a particular interest in this and would like to join the small team looking into it, please Contact Us