USAID has developed a participatory methodology to implement the pilot, combining the use of technology with village-wide training on Tanzania’s land laws to build knowledge, strengthen capacity and dispute resolution.
The pilot tests an innovative approach to mapping and registering land rights at Ilalasimba through easy to use, open-source mobile application.
The project empowers villagers with the training and tools to identify parcel boundaries and gather the demographic and tenure information, which government officials need to issue formal land rights documents called Certificates of Customary Rights of Occupancy.
The founders, USAID, implemented the project as well as Cloudburst Group the consultant, CARE International and a local Tanzania Grassroots Oriented Development (TAGRODE), based in Iringa.
According to Executive Director of TAGRODE, the first phase of the pilot is Ilalasimba, Iringa Rural District that falls in the Southern Agriculture Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT), a zone of interest for both Tanzania and USAID.
Maize is the principal crop, but there are several secondary cash crops grown by inhabitants like tomatoes, sunflower and tobacco.
“The village has an estimated area of 31sq km and a small population of 325 households or with more than one thousand people,” he said.
He said Cloudburst Group implemented MAST project for USAID, which is piloting a project to crowd-source land rights information at village level in the country for mobile technology.
The Cloudburst Group Mobile Technology Lead (Land Tenure and Natural Resources Management), Jeffrey Euwema, said MAST project supports identified needs of Tanzania to improve land governance and lower the cost of land certification programmes.
The pilot tests a new, participatory approach for capturing land rights information, as well as a lower cost methodology for quickly building a reliable database of land rights claims.
“MAST may be particularly helpful to the government as an alternative to more traditional, and more costly, land administration interventions,” he said.
He said formal land administration systems (LAS) in developing countries have generally not met the need for accessible, cost effective and appropriately fine distinction land registration.
Harold Carey, Economic Growth Officer from USAID, said that large majorities of rural people (and many urban people) live without formalised rights to land and other valuable resources.
He said lack of documentation may constrain the ability of individuals and communities to leverage their land-based assets for improved economic outcomes, to limit environmental harms, and to engage in collaborative contracting with prospective investors in land that leads to equitable sharing of benefits.
Simon Elias Salichuma (49) who is one of the beneficiaries of Certificates of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCRO) told The Guardian that the arrival of MAST project was a savior.
There were lots land conflicts involving farmers and animal keepers and also between farmers and herders. The project is also expected to transform their lives, using CCRO to get loan from financial institution as collateral.
And also Yolanda Ngunda (51), a widow from same village, said she was happy with the project because it has demarcated her parcel of land and added that they would be no boundary conflicts.
Ilalasimba village at Nzihi Ward in Kalenga Division is fairly representative of an average Tanzania village.
Ilalasimba women have greater security and protection for their assets, with MAST registering 30 per cent of parcels in the names of women alone.
Forty per cent were registered jointly to men and women and another 30 per cent to men alone.