The Land Administration Project in Ghana has proven to be a catalyst to stimulate economic development, reduce poverty and promote social stability by improving security of land tenure and fostering prudent land management. The use of modern technologies like UAVs can help to overcome some of the challenges being faced and offers better land management capability
Good governance and effective public administration recognise land as the principal source of wealth and indeed wealth generation in society. Land rights that provide secure tenure and facilitate broad private ownership enable society to develop dynamic land trading practices and the formation of land markets. No country can develop or sustain a civil society or promote economic development within its boundaries without internal confidence and public acceptance in its land rights and system of land administration. However, there are use rights and development rights, which do not necessarily give ownership rights to the users and the developers of those parcels of land.
The Land Administration Project (LAP) seeks to stimulate economic development, reduce poverty and promote social stability by improving security of land tenure, simplifying the process for accessing land and making it fair, transparent and efficient and developing the land market and fostering prudent land management.
However, no matter how ambitious these objectives might seem Ghana as a country has made giant strides in achieving some of the components of these objectives largely thanks to the LAP project. It has among other things brought the public, private and the academia together on one platform in order to brainstorm on most of the ways and means of achieving some of the above mentioned objectives.
The case discusses some of the challenges of the Piloted Systematic Land Titling (SLT) in some selected urban areas in Accra and Kumasi. Some of the objectives to be achieved by the SLT can be enumerated as follows:
- Identify and measure the boundaries of parcels within the sectional map – this shall include the determination of the extent of the property boundaries as indicated in sectional maps provided as against the area occupied on the ground
- Ascertain properties for which lodgments have been made at Land title Registry. And, where possible, determine the current status from the applicant.
- Obtain relevant land information relating to parcels-type and characteristics of buildings utilities availability, occupier/owners and any other data as specified in the questionnaire.
- Administer land title registration forms and initiate the land title registration process.
In order to achieve the above mentioned objectives, the project was structured to include a lot of professionals in the land sector. The professionals included a Licensed Surveyor as a Team Leader, a Digital Plane Table (DPT) Surveyor, Geographic Information System (GIS) Expert, a Land Economist, a Communication Specialist and a Geodetic Engineer.
Sectional maps were provided by the Survey and Mapping Division of the Lands Commission for selected areas to be used as Base maps for the assignment. The maps were loaded as background on to the DPT which was preloaded with the Penmap Software. The Geodetic Engineers and the DPT Surveyor with the help of the Continuous Operating Reference System (CORS) established for the project, moved to the field detailing parcel boundaries in real time kinematic (RTK) mode. The Land Economist also dispatched staff to the area administering land title registration forms and to initiate the land title registration process. The communication experts were also in the selected communities trying to explain the purpose of the assignment. The data so collected were downloaded and handed over to the GIS expert for further processing.
The design of LAP 1 as far as the Systematic Land Titling assignment cannot be said to be foolproof because of the following reasons:
- These Sectional Maps were not up-to-date since these were maps covering 1988 to 1996 and the project took place in 2010. A lot of development took place and re-zoning of some of the areas by Town and Country Planning rendered the use of the sectional maps as base map difficult in so many areas.
- The procurement process for the selection of consultants restricted the technical specification to the use of DPT.
- The alternate methods for capturing parcel boundary information by the use of Real Time Kinematic GPS system that can have up to 20 km radius coverage was not explored.
- The use of sectional maps also restricted the use of other choices like orthophotos from aerial photography and satellite imagery (LAP2 has taken care of this).
- The monitoring and evaluation of the assignment brought about some inconsistency. For example, when the consultant submits part of the Blocks with parcel numbers that are single digits, the next time you are submitting another one you will be asked to make them two digits. This has caused a lot of delays in the submission of the final parcel layouts.
The way forward
With the advancement in technology a lot can be achieved in Systematic Land Titling if the use of orthophotos is adopted. An orthophoto is a geometrically corrected aerial photograph. It is generated when variations in scale and displacements, caused by tilt of the aircraft and terrain relief, are removed from the aerial photograph by a process called orthophoto rectification.
The use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) technology in the acquisition of digital aerial photography is the way forward. The advantages of this technology is its low altitude photogrammetric mapping. The UAVs are designed to perform aerial photogrammetry even while there are clouds. In Ghana, because of the tropical weather, which causes thick and low cloud cover during certain days in the year, prevents the acquisition of aerial photographs and satellite imagery. UAVs can be used all year round because they can be operated between the heights of 80m-400m. In Ghana, we have two windows for flying i.e. February-April and October-December. The UAV is suitable for large scale mapping in Urban Areas and rural areas.
It is therefore strongly recommended that instead of using outdated sectional maps in Systematic Land Titling, the orthophotos that can be easily generated from the digital photographs from UAVs should be used. It is cost effective and the accuracy required for mapping is achievable. A UAV flying at 80m above ground level is able to cover 10sq. km in 45mins. It is therefore possible to deploy this technology to map all the systematic land titling areas in the country.
The advantages of using orthophoto in systematic land titling are enormous:
- Orthophoto interpretation is simple, easy and a cheap method for parcel boundary identification and demarcation in rural areas.
- Orthophotos are important for the public display of adjudication records, where the landowners have to be able to identify their parcels for checking their data.
UAV can be used for large scale mapping. The sub-meter accuracy produced by the data is relevant for various applications with low cost expenditure and less expert manpower. The flexibility and high efficiency of the UAV flight would be a solution for real-time mapping. The UAV can take-off and land at limited open area with autopilot. The map or the orthophoto produced from this system can be used in various fields such as Geographical Information System (GIS), geomatic engineering, construction industry, planning etc.