By Zabihullah Noori
LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Afghan women should benefit from a project to issue property titles to homeowners in Kabul, where more than two-thirds of the houses have no formal planning approval, the head of the government's land authority said on Tuesday.
Disputes over land and illegal property ownership are major challenges for the government of President Ashraf Ghani, which is leading efforts to protect citizens' property rights and modernize the process of registering property.
The Afghanistan Independent Land Authority (ARAZI) launched a pilot project this month to register properties in Kabul that were built before 2001 without planning permission, as part of a drive to secure land rights for residents.
In conservative male-dominated Afghanistan, properties are usually registered to men but ARAZI plans to issue joint ownership rights to married couples.
"Our goal is to give the women their fair share in the property," ARAZI Chief Executive Officer Jawad Peikar told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by telephone.
"Up to 70 percent of residential homes are unplanned constructions in all major cities of Afghanistan," he added.
Without legal protection, residents risk eviction or having their unregistered assets stolen from them by powerful interests, and are deprived of collateral for loans and investment, land rights campaigners say.
Peikar said he hoped the pilot project in Kabul to be completed in the next three to four months. If it is successful, the project could be rolled out across the country, he added.
(Editing by Katie Nguyen.)