There is no “silver bullet”, but technology offers some hope.
The lead economist of the World Bank’s Development Research Group has said he sees great potential in using blockchain technology as part of a range of measures to help bring order to the complicated issue of land rights across large swathes of Africa, Central/South America and anywhere institutions could be deemed unreliable. Speaking to the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Klaus Deininger said innovations like those being seen in Africa to provide low-cost, reliable recording of land ownership using distributed ledgers provide “opportunities to change the picture quite dramatically” for the 1bn or so people who would currently struggle to prove ownership of the land upon which they live or work.
Speaking before the start of the World Bank’s annual conference on land and poverty, Deninger tempered his optimism with a note of caution too.
“While technology can help, it will not solve every problem if used in isolation. Land rights are complex, so you have to look as issues such as governance and how to build a country’s capacity to deal with the issue,” he said, before adding that “peddling something as a silver bullet when in the end the issues are systemic…is not that helpful”.
However, Deninger believes “Such technology advances are making it possible to comprehensively secure land rights in participatory and cost-effective ways that were unimaginable even a decade ago.”