Land Ownership Problem in Haiti
The Haitian government and different international aid organizations are competing with each other for past few years to reconstruct the dwelling units for the 1.5 million earthquake affected people living in camps, but that attempts have been greatly impeded by the country's weak land administration systems and the resulting disputes over land and property--who owns the land? Land registry problems in Haiti can be traced back to its days of independence since 1804. A practically non-existent land registration system, unclear processes for land transfer and fraudulent land titles are delaying the reconstruction efforts. The catastrophic earthquake has made land claims more complicated. After close to 250,000 deaths, the issues of inheritance are raising a number of questions. Is the owner alive or dead? If he is dead who is the right successor? Certain people returning to their homes have found that it have been occupied by someone else. The earthquake has brought to the light a long standing problem. Literally no one ever had the correct answer for how you buy and sell property in Haiti. The transfer of a land title involves the central tax authority, surveyors and notaries. To avoid related expenses and bureaucracy most land is transferred orally from one generation to the next. Lack of governance and non-existent judicial protection makes enforcement of title difficult. As per United Nations report, less than 5% of land in Haiti is officially accounted for in public land records.
Before the earthquake, the Organization of American States had decided to spend $70 million over a period of seven years to put it in an orderly system as a prerequisite for development of the country. However, at present, the humanitarian agencies and the government have to redouble their efforts to solve the problems of land ownerships. There should be some immediate clear directives, national policy and supports from the local law enforcement authorities, to construct residential units on disputed lands.