Announcing the new Handbook for Land Rights Documentation

We are excited to announce that after many months of development, our Handbook for Customary Land Rights Documentation is available for download. We recognize that this would not have been possible without our partners: Omidyar Network,  the National House of Chiefs, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources and the Office of Administrator of Stool Lands and we are super grateful for their consistent support.


It is estimated that about 80% of all lands in Ghana are under the customary system and therefore on a daily basis, many land transactions that take place in Ghana, occur in the customary sector.Unfortunately, most of these land transactions are done with limited or no documentation, a situation which has affected the land tenure security for many of the land rights holders in Ghana.

The absence of proper documentation in the customary land sector has resulted in threats of dispossession, multiple land sales, boundary disputes, unclarity of the land rights, loss of investments, among others.The long history of undocumented transactions in the customary land sector in Ghana has resulted in a situation where, even when an individual recognizes the need for documentation and proposes to initiate a process to get his/her land transaction documented, there is some resistance or suspicion.

Thus, there is need for, not only a template for documenting customary land rights, but also an established system for documentation, where customary land rights documentation will be considered as an integral part of the customary land system.

This Handbook has therefore been introduced to demystify all the disagreements and misunderstanding surrounding the documentation of customary land rights in Ghana. In summary, it provides the overall framework for customary land rights documentation in Ghana.

The Handbook acknowledges that oral agreements are allowed under customary law in Ghana and that different people can hold different rights and interests in the same parcel of land at any point in time. The context of customary land tenure and the changing dynamics in the land market in Ghana make land rights documentation more urgent today than ever.

This, however, need not be a complex endeavor. The concept of documenting customary land rights is simply about translating all that have been agreed between the parties, as well as the accepted practices and obligations under customary law, into writing, to provide clarity for the parties and their next of kin, and serve as public notice of the ownership of those rights and interest. This is the guidance the Handbook provides.

Download it here