A Finnish-funded land mapping and registration pilot project has been completed in parts of five provinces and municipalities, and now will be expanded to Takeo province and Sihanoukville, officials said Tuesday.
Some 27,000 parcels of land have been mapped and registered in Phnom Penh, Kandal, Kampot, Kompong Thom and Takeo over the past three years as a critical step toward reforming Cambodia’s confused property system.
A chaotic and often corrupt land registration system combined with murky property laws have created an atmosphere allowing land grabs and disputes that escalate into violence.
A new land law has been drafted, but not yet adopted.
A new land registration system “will greater assure the security of land tenure [and] promote in turn economic development, reduce poverty, [and] provide a base for environmental management,” Im Chhun Lim, minister of Land Management and Construction, said in an opening speech Tuesday announcing the expansion of the pilot project.
The $1.2 million, two-year second phase calls for mapping and registering parcels in other communes of Takeo and Sihanoukville and issuing land titles on land that has been registered, officials announced.
“Finland has been supporting the government in the advancement of human rights and rule of law,” said Finnish Ambassador Tauno Kaaria.
“It’s not difficult to see the land registration system would benefit all of those fields.”
Mika Torhonen, leader of the project’s technical advisory team from Finnmap, said the team has developed a simple but systematic computerized mapping method costing about $14 per parcel. Aid agencies of the French and German governments also have helped in various land mapping projects in recent years.
But a great deal of work lies ahead: Officials estimate that mapping and registering all 7 million parcels of land in Cambodia will cost $98 million and take 10 years.
Im Chhun Lim said the government recently issued a subdecree that adopts the Finnmap method for a comprehensive national map and land registration system. The World Bank said last week it wants to spearhead efforts to raise $500,000 to prepare the nationwide land-registration project.