In 1999, eight years after emerging from decades of Soviet domination, Kyrgyzstan began an ambitious effort to officially recognize property ownership throughout the country and lay the groundwork for a vibrant real estate market. During five and a half decades of rule by the Soviet Union, citizens were not allowed to own land, and after Kyrgyzstani independence in 1991, the country began a nationwide program of privatization in a bid to stimulate economic development. The question was how to register and document property rights so that people could transact efficiently in a new land market. To meet the challenge, a new land agency, known as Gosregister, had to hire and train staff in completely new responsibilities, establish performance management and funding structures, improve efficiency by introducing new technologies, and ensure that staff did not engage in corruption. Despite political upheaval—including the overthrow of two governments in the space of five years—Gosregister steadily built its capacity and evolved into an effective land registry. By 2012, the agency had registered 92% of the country’s privately held parcels, and in 2017, the World Bank’s Doing Business rankings recognized its services as among the best in the world.
Maya Gainer drafted this case study based on interviews conducted in Bishkek and Kant, Kyrgyzstan, during November and December 2016. The British Academy-Department for International Development Anti-Corruption Evidence (ACE) Program funded the development of this case study. Case published February 2017