There has been a growing focus on the importance of consensus when it comes to determining land rights. This is particularly true when it comes to the collection of data on land properties and the demarcation of boundaries.
In recent years, our team has spent a significant amount of time working on testing and developing new technologies for land rights, with a focus on improving the traditional methods of collecting data on land properties. We have conducted several comprehensive studies in Kenya, including in Tana River County where we helped communities map their ancestral and communal land, and in Taita Hills County where we tested and modified new technologies for land demarcation.
One of the most significant projects we have undertaken is in Zanzibar, an archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. In Zanzibar, the majority of land properties are not documented and, until recently, the number of built properties was unknown. Through our efforts, we were able to map all the buildings on the archipelago and assign each one a unique ID.
In collaboration with the Zanzibar Commission for Lands, we aimed to modernize the process of land adjudication. We identified that the traditional methods were outdated and that the collection of data and mapping of boundaries were not seamlessly integrated. These outdated methods also relied heavily on the availability of professional surveyors, which was scarce, and on the time of adjudication officers, which was limited.
Instead of relying on the limited availability of professionals, we decided to empower the community by providing them with tools to collect their own data on land properties, within the bounds of the law. By involving the community, and utilizing new technologies such as drone imagery, tablet-based survey forms, and cloud computing, we were able to streamline and speed up the process. The community was actively engaged in gathering and agreeing on the boundaries, resulting in increased accuracy through mutual agreements among neighbors. Finally, the whole process was overseen by the adjudication officers from the Commission for Lands, providing it legitimacy. This highlights the significance of building consensus in determining land rights.
When the project was completed in 2022, a total of 1000 land properties were documented. The process of documenting these properties was greatly streamlined by the active participation of community members. At this moment, over 100 community members were already able to obtain government-approved certificates of occupancy.