Land Titling and Poverty Reduction: A Study of Two Sanglat in Prey Nup District, Sihanoukville Municipality

TitleLand Titling and Poverty Reduction: A Study of Two Sanglat in Prey Nup District, Sihanoukville Municipality
Annotated RecordAnnotated
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsAnalyzing_Development_Issues(ADI), Land_Information_Centre _
Key themesAccessToJustice, Formalisation-titling, MarginalisedPeople, Urban

This ADI study in collaboration with the Land Information Centre seeks to understand the relationship between land titling and poverty reduction in two sangkat of Prey Nup District, Sihanoukville Municipality. More specifically, it attempts to document the manner of landholder acquisition and the land titling process of the Land Management and Administration Project (LMAP) in four villages of the two sangkat; to examine land sales and land transfer processes before and after titling; to explore the link between land titles and access to credit; and to assess the contribution of land titles to security of land tenure and the resolution of land disputes. A survey questionnaire was conducted with 264 households in four villages of the two sangkat. In addition key informant interviews were convened with villagers, LMAP officials, and district managers of lending institutions. In the two sangkat villagers actively participated in the mapping and measurement of their lands for titling under LMAP and more than 90 percent of all agricultural plots owned by the households surveyed were titled under LMAP. This was a remarkable achievement. Land sales in the two sangkat were higher in the four and a half years since LMAP implementation than in the previous fourteen years combined. While higher land values benefited village sellers, proceeds from land sales were spent mainly on health costs and rarely invested in productive pursuits. Meanwhile, the majority of land sales after LMAP were still transacted by making sales contracts with notification at village and commune levels without processing the transfers through the Land Registry. This practice of transferring land extralegally threatened to undermine the viability of the systematic land titling program. Of note, more than 90 percent of all households surveyed had never used an LMAP title as collateral for a loan. A major benefit conferred through LMAP was the stronger tenure security on LMAP titled lands. While LMAP titling did not immediately translate into poverty reduction for most of the recipients it did constitute a contributing component of development interventions and reforms with potential for moving people out of poverty and allowing them to share more equitably in economic growth.


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Document Type

Journal Article


Overall relevance: 

This study provides one of the more detailed pieces of research on the land titling process in Cambodia under the LMAP program. The paper sets out the rationale for land titling very clearly, and then reviews experience against this rationale. It finds that at one level, the program was successful in achieving a high rate of coverage within the project area at Prey Nup [which is one of the more successful irrigation areas in Cambodia]. It was also successful in raising land values in the area, increasing the assets of farmers. Having land title increased the security of tenure of landholders. On the other hand, the study found that the program failed to achieve wider development objectives. Most of the land transactions that occurred after titling continued to be done informally, without reference to the official land registry. Proceeds of the land sales were not considered by the study authors to be used “productively”, and were mainly to cover health-related expenditure [which also suggests that there may have been a significant element of distress-selling]. There was also little use of the land titles for credit access

Key Themes: 
  • Land rights recognition/formalization/titling/collective tenure - LMAP achieved success at Prey Nup in terms of basic procedure. The rate of coverage was high. Land values increased, as did land transactions. The main rationale for land titling, however, seems to be unfounded. Access to credit and use of land proceeds for increased economic activity have not materialised. A disturbing finding was that land not titled in the area, in some cases because it was deemed to be under dispute, became more intensively disputed during the formalisation process. The case study of widow Srey Mom in Bek Krang village is an interesting case in point. In this case, titling triggered insecurity for poorer and less powerful households
Research basis: 

The study was conducted in mid-2007 and involved both quantitative and qualitative methods. 264 households were surveyed across two communes in Prey Nup District of Sihanoukville. The households selected had all received title to at least one plot of land. Focus groups and key informant interviews supplemented the survey to gain an understanding of land transactions prior to and following land titling.