Using Technology to Promote Pro-Poor Land Formalization | Land Portal

LANDac International Conference 2022 Session Summary

Technology is a powerful tool that can help protect the land rights of the poor and promote socioeconomic growth. However, if the land and technology policy frameworks are insufficient, if technology is not designed with a specific context in mind, if it does not adapt to socio-cultural norms, and if it does not respond to real local needs, then technology can be ineffective – or worse - may magnify existing social inequalities. In this panel, panelists presented experiences of land formalization and land administration projects from Zambia, Rwanda, Cabo Verde, and India, and discussed the role of technology in land governance, including how technology must adapt to local contexts, needs, and opportunities in order to truly promote equality

Key Takeaways

  • Technology is merely a tool, the impact of which is determined by human access, capacity and motivation.

  • It is critically important to iterate on and adapt technology to local contexts and needs.

  • Sustainability of technology projects is a persistent challenge. Working with local development partners can support sustainability.

  • Developers of new systems must understand the on-the-ground processes and challenges.

  • The introduction and adoption of new systems requires on-going capacity building.

  • Users and beneficiaries of new systems need to be adequately sensitized to new processes and the intended outcomes of technologies.

  • The technology pilot cycle does not give enough time for iteration, capacity building, adoption, and sustainability. 

  • Land tenure is a governance issue, which can’t be solved by technology alone. Technology can solve specific problems and enable more efficient processes within this broader context, if it is designed with users’ and beneficiaries’ differential access, capacity, and motivations.



Toward More Direct & Responsive Citizen Engagement 

Trent Larson, Senior Manager of Development, Medici Land Governance

This presentation introduced Medici Land Governance technology projects in Zambia and Rwanda, each of which have involved significant iteration and adaption. Dr. Larson discussed the importance of customization of the user interface to adapt to the local context and logistics, as well as the opportunities that technology presents in bringing services directly to landowners to reduce barriers to registration. 


Presentation 2

Land Management Systems and improved equity and access in Cabo Verde: Stepping towards efficiency 

Audrey Moore, Ph.D., and Irina Cheban, Mathematica


This presentation focused on how development of the LMITS system in Cabo Verde affected project stakeholders—including those involved in land administration, landowners, women, vulnerable groups, and investors. The presentation examined how the new online system has evolved in the five years since the end of the compact; whether and how it has improved transaction time for stakeholders; and whether more people are now registering their properties in Cabo Verde.  The presentation also examined how the interventions improved equity among males and females in different types of relationship statuses.  


Presentation 3

Does the quality of the land records affect formal credit access of households? 

Susan Thomas, Senior Research Fellow, xKDR forum, and Diya Uday, Research Lead, xKDR Forum


The under-utilisation of land as collateral is often attributed to the poor quality of the land records infrastructure which is seen to increase the costs of screening borrowers and risk in recovery if a loan fails. This presentation examined the link between the quality of the land records infrastructure across states in India and the access to credit by households in these states. The presenters found a significant and positive link between household access to credit and the quality of the land records infrastructure. However, the link between the quality of land records and credit from formal sources is significant but negative. States with a lower quality of land records infrastructure tend to have a higher presence of formal financial institutions. There are also more households borrowing from formal financial institutions in these states. Lastly, more households with planned borrowing rather than unplanned borrowing in these states. Digitisation of the land records infrastructure alone might not fully account for households’ access to formal credit. Land administration efforts in improving credit access through the land records infrastructure must consider the environment in which credit transactions operate.


Presentation 4

Effective use of mobile technologies: Don’t forget the paper 

Matt Sommerville, USAID ILRG Chief of Party and Meagan Dooley, Tetra Tech/USAID


This presentation examined the social inclusion tradeoffs in eliminating or reducing paper within land formalization processes. Over the past decade there has been a movement to simplify application processes for systematic land formalization, which have in many cases led to the elimination of paper through collection of personal and spatial data on phones and tablets. This movement has created efficiencies in data collection, but has potentially reduced transparency, particularly at the household and community level. In some cases, households or certain household members may only see paper at the point of a public display of the entire community and at the issuance of the final certificate. This presentation shared experience from the USAID Integrated Land and Resource Governance (ILRG) support to documentation of household and community rights in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Liberia, and Ghana to argue that paper evidence and interaction with maps are important for community awareness, spatial reference and mapping of parcel boundaries, data quality control, and dispute resolution. This is particularly relevant for marginalized groups like women, youth, and others, who might be intentionally or inadvertently excluded from documentation steps. The presentation underscored the importance of using mobile technology to increase efficiency, but argued that the cost efficiencies from reducing paper are not worth the loss of transparency and evidence for household and communities and potential for reinforcing social exclusion.


Presentation 5

Technology as a tool for improving Land Administration: Lessons learned from the Resurvey project in Gujarat, India 

Dr. Gaurika Chugh, Assistant Professor of Political Science, St. Xavier’s College, Jaipur


Since Independence, state has used technology to streamline and improve land administration. To circumvent the discrepancies involved in the management of records, the central government merged the Computerisation of Land Records (CLR) and Strengthening of Revenue Administration and Updating of Land Records (SRA & ULR) into Digital India Land Records Modernisation Programme (DILRMP) in 2008. The DILRMP aimed to bring a major overhaul in the system of land administration through computerisation of land records, ensuring service delivery by minimising the transaction cost in procuring records, integration of registration with computerisation of land records and more significantly by introducing survey/resurvey through technological advancement measures like Electronic Total Station (ETS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS), and satellite imagery through geo-referenced cadastral maps. This presentation focused on whether the use of ETS and DGPS technology has helped improve land administration in Gujarat state. 

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LANDac Conference 2022
29 Junio 2022

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