Cadastre systems – or land registration systems – are used throughout the world to record details of land ownership. The diffusion of modern Information Technology (IT) land registration systems have played an important role in diminishing corrupt and non-transparent land management practices. Such systems also improve the structure and accessibility of records, facilitate knowledge-based decision making and promote a wider data dissemination.
However, proprietary software for land registration systems can be costly, making their adoption in developing countries less likely. Yet many of these countries are eager for the benefits they can derive from implementation of appropriate IT systems. The Solutions for Open Land Administration (SOLA) project has been designed with these concerns in mind. This three-year trust fund project, financed by the Government of Finland, was launched in June 2011 with the objective of providing affordable IT systems to developing countries that will enable them to improve transparency and governance related to land registration.
The project is using open-source software. Unlike proprietary software, open-source software does not require costly licensing. Moreover, open-source software can be freely modified and adjusted by developers, who have access to the software’s “engine”. Another advantage with open-source software is that it is often more flexible and adaptable to local cadastre and registration practices and languages than proprietary software. Three countries – Samoa, Nepal and Ghana – are participating in the project’s pilot phase, implementing the software for their own land registration systems. Initial work on the project has been promising, according to SOLA Project coordinator, Neil Pullar, “The SOLA project is at exciting stage. The initial generic SOLA software developed in Rome is now largely completed and software customization work begins in the 3 pilot countries in March. The Rome software developers are now busy preparing for the training of the local software development teams in each of the pilot countries.”
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