New mobile technologies helping over one million people to obtain rights to their land

At the World Bank Land and Poverty Conference this week, land rights experts with Cadasta Foundation revealed dramatic findings concerning the impact of new mobile technologies that are helping more than one million of the world’s most vulnerable people obtain rights to their land in urban slums and rural regions in 17 countries, while creating a model for addressing some of the most intractable obstacles to access to government services and sustainable livelihoods in poor countries.

To illustrate the success of local partners in using the Cadasta platform and digital tools, researchers presented results of their work on two pilot projects, one in a rural post-conflict region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and a second in the slums of Odisha, India, with findings that hold particular promise in a world expected to see two-thirds of global population living in cities by 2045. The Cadasta experts joined more than 1,500 development experts at the World Bank conference this week, where the theme focused on cutting-edge technologies for supporting the quest for rights as a solution for poverty. Whether the goal is recognizing customary rights for indigenous or rural communities in Africa, or the rights of slumdwellers to their homes in the massive communities that ring the world’s fastest growing cities, secure tenure is seen as vital to any development scheme.

“The issue of land and resource rights is becoming more urgent every day,” said Cadasta CEO Amy Coughenour Betancourt. “More than 1.5 billion people feel insecure about the rights to the land they occupy. In a system that is failing most of the world’s population, Cadasta’s new strategy and innovative platform serve as powerful tools to advance land rights and to change the way things are being done. We look forward to forging new partnerships that lead to more secure, productive, and sustainable futures for vulnerable communities across the globe.”

Recent studies estimate that 70 percent of land in the developing world is undocumented, leaving more than a fourth of the world’s population vulnerable to conflict, evictions and encroachment. In a new paper documenting their efforts with partners in the slums of Odisha, Cadasta researchers summarized the rapid process carried out with the help of the slum dwellers themselves, in partnership with governments, civil society and academic institutions.

“To date, drone surveys have been completed… covering 1886 slums; household surveys have been completed in 150,000 slum households and land rights given to more than 50,000 households,” the researchers reported. “What has been very notable is the fact that (this) entire Liveable Habitat Mission has been a collaboration of the government with the slum communities supported by philanthropic organizations, technical agencies, academic institutions and non-governmental organizations. “

Using Cadasta software to survey households and collect land occupancy data, the collaboration in India led to the issuing of property certificates that cover more than 525,000 slum dwellers. The participating communities reaped almost immediate benefits, according to the researchers. In the first group that received certificates of ownership, parents already have succeeded in registering their children for school, applied for government jobs and avoided eviction.

Worldwide, the data collected using Cadasta’s tools is allowing state governments and stakeholders in pilot countries to grant official certificates of land occupancy to residents, while also helping to inform crucial urban and rural planning decisions, including the expansion of roads to allow for emergency services and the installation of piped water. The newly recognized rights are also promoting healthy, productive livelihoods in some of the world’s most traditionally disenfranchised communities, according to Coughenour.

A second paper released by Cadasta, covering a rural project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), describes the work of a team of land administration specialists who successfully mapped and documented 3,000 parcels of land on behalf of more than 17,000 people. In collaboration with partners on the ground, the experts introduce participatory methods aimed at reviving a defunct irrigation scheme that improved agricultural production in an area historically plagued by conflict.

At the event, Cadasta’s CEO, partners, and donors Omidyar Network and UK Aid, also announced a new strategy and Esri-powered platform and tools to help document and map the land rights of 8 million people in 30 countries by 2022.

Commenting on Cadasta’s new initiative and technology partnership with Esri, Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president said, “Cadasta’s methods help communities and governments leapfrog the challenges imposed by traditional land administration systems. With their flexible and simple solutions, Cadasta’s tools enable partners to quickly and cheaply collect data and imagery to document land and property.”

Cadasta’s partnership with Esri represents a powerful and scalable new approach, with a proven track record, to ensure that vulnerable communities, governments, and civil society easily and securely document and map crucial land rights data.

The World Bank Land and Poverty conference convenes experts from around the world to present research on the latest advances in technologies aimed at speeding up the transfer ownership of rural and urban lands to some of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.

Founded in 2015, Cadasta Foundation is a Washington, D.C. based nonprofit that develops and promotes the use of simple digital tools and technology to help partners efficiently document, analyze, store, and share critical land and resource rights information. By creating an accessible digital record of land, property, and resource rights, we help empower individuals, communities, organizations, governments, and businesses with the information they need to make data-driven decisions and put vulnerable communities and their needs on the map.

Esri, a global vendor of geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence, and mapping, offers Esri Geospatial Cloud, the most powerful geospatial cloud available. Since 1969, Esri has helped customers unlock the full potential of data to improve operational and business results. Today, Esri software is deployed in more than 350,000 organizations including the world’s largest cities, most national governments, 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies, and more than 7,000 colleges and universities. With its pioneering commitment to geospatial information technology, Esri engineers the most advanced solutions for digital transformation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics.

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