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Afghanistan launches an Innovative Land Management Initiative: Occupancy Certificates for Residents of Informal Urban Areas

26 February 2018, Herat - The Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has officially launched the issuance of land occupancy certificates (OCs) for residents of informal urban areas. In a symbolic ceremony in the province of Herat, five hundred Afghan households received the first occupancy certificates (OCs) under the auspices of H.E. Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan and the Afghanistan Land Authority (ARAZI). This momentous event took place only two days after the entry into force of the Presidential Decree on the Registration of Properties in Urban Informal Settlements.

Afghanistan launches an Innovative Land Management Initiative: Occupancy Certificates for Residents of Informal Urban Areas

Photo Credit courtesy of ARG. H.E. Ashraf Ghani, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, delivering an Occupancy Certificate to a female household in Herat, in presence of Mr. Jawad Peikar, CEO of the Afghanistan Independent Land Authority (ARAZI), 24 February 2018.

This initiative is part of the City for All (CFA), a government-led programme technically supported by UN-Habitat. CFA is currently supporting twelve municipalities to survey and register all properties within their municipal boundaries. So far, CFA has surveyed and registered 452,000 properties. Preliminary findings indicate that only 14% of the surveyed properties in Kabul (and 17% in other provincial cities) are in possession of a formal title deed. The aim of the Occupancy Certificates (OC) initiative is to produce and issue one million occupancy certificates by 2020.

With a growing urban population, a significant amount of internally displaced persons and returning refugees, the role of Afghan cities as catalyzers of economic and social development remains crucial. The issuance of occupancy certificates guarantees to informal urban dwellers the right to stay in their homes without a threat of eviction. It also encourages economic investments and bolsters job opportunities for the beneficiaries. The formal registration of hitherto informal properties will increase, their value and promote economies of agglomeration. The de facto recognition of the contribution of well-planned, regulated and financed urbanization to the prosperity and sustainable development of nations, especially in developing countries, is one of the major novelties enshrined in the United Nations’ New Urban Agenda.

With the financial support of USAID and the EU, and the technical assistance of UN-Habitat, ARAZI has opened the way to land reform in Afghanistan by guaranteeing security of tenure to all urban dwellers, including women. The newly adopted Presidential Decree calls for occupancy certificates to be issued jointly to heads of households and their spouses, for all properties on state owned land. This gender empowerment measure is unprecedented in the history of Afghanistan. At UN-Habitat, we congratulate the Government of Afghanistan for its commitment to sustainable urban development and inclusive, safe and resilient cities for all.

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