May 1, 2020 Print

Back in 2019, Atlas Network partner Audace Institut Afrique (AIA), of Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast​), won the 2019 Africa Liberty Award for their work to strengthen property rights in their country through the project “Liberating Rural Land’s Potential In Côte d’Ivoire,” which created village maps using advanced GPS to establish village land registers and a smartphone application to download certificates and lease agreements. The simple idea turned out to be revolutionary, solving decade long conflict that stemmed from poorly defined property rights. Now, the program has been adopted at a national level with village land registers in each village and a new government program, which will be funded by the World Bank and employ young professionals to keep track of the archives. 

Before AIA, it was almost impossible to demonstrate who owned property, how much they owned, and how that land might be bought and sold. As of 2017, only 4 percent of landholdings were registered In Côte d’Ivoire. This caused conflicts that stemmed from poorly-defined property rights. AIA's project was launched to map out these ethereal ownerships through exploration in various villages. These findings were written down and published online as a permanent record. 

Now, it’s easier for market forces to operate in these villages. When it’s clear which people own which land—the cultivation, purchase, and sale of property becomes a consistent part of life for the community.

“​We started with an idea and a simple GPS,” said Gisèle Dutheuil, founding member and director of AIA. “Today our land program is recognized nationally in Côte d'Ivoire. This is a wonderful sign of hope for property rights in Africa and a huge encouragement for our small team that builds freedom with passion on a daily basis.”

By emphasizing private ownership rights and creating a replicable and accessible system, AIA is helping landowners in Côte d’Ivoire benefit from their important capital asset. 

Audace Institut Afrique received an Atlas Network grant in support of their project to make property registers more accessible to the people of Côte d'Ivoire.