LONDON, September 26, 2012 – Liberia’s Centre for National Documents and Records Agency (CNDRA) opened its new Customer Service Office in Monrovia this week to improve citizen services for land transactions.
This is a remarkable development for a country that emerged in 2003 from a long period of civil war fueled in part by conflict over land rights.The office marks a significant milestone in the Liberia Land Policy and Institutional Support project managed by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with funding from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
The Customer Service Office’s use of OpenTitle(TM) software from Thomson Reuters is enabling CNDRA to once again become the steward of the nation’s records, and allowing records to be digitised and added to the land information system as citizens arrive at the office.
“The opening of the deeds and records Customer Service Office represents a new beginning for the people of Liberia,” said Philomena Bloh Sayeh, director general, CNDRA. “It is important to have a more accurate record of land ownership in the country. Instead of deeds being recorded by hand, we now have a digital recording system in which records are electronically stored in a national database. This improves the sharing of information and transparency with the public and within government.”
“It’s important to recognise why USAID and MCC are investing in land tenure in Liberia,” said Timothy Fella, Land Tenure and Conflict Specialist, USAID. “Land was an underlying driver of the conflict in the first place. There was significant inequality in regards to who had legal rights to what land. There was a majority of the population that had traditional rights to land, but these customary rights were not recognised by the statutory system, leaving the state to lease out lands to third parties. That created a number of grievances amongst certain populations, which contributed to the conflict.”
“For the very first time, the public can have their deeds and records entered directly into a digital system which will register their land and ensure their ownership is legally recorded, verified, and stored in a national electronic database,” said Peter Rabley vice president of the government division within the Tax & Accounting business of Thomson Reuters.
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