Examining the Real Costs of Community-led Rights Documentation from USAID’s Experience in Burma and Zambia

Published in: Annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference

As mobile technologies, crowd sourcing and batch processing of data offer the potential to scale-up national efforts to document land rights, there has been pressure to reduce the per-unit cost of documentation, in order to make large-scale systematic registration viable. However, many global programs cite the cost purely of data collection in the field, and not the full range of other activities that lead to a successful registration (and ultimately administration) program or the challenge of addressing ongoing disputes.

Over the past five years, USAID’s TGCC program has undertaken household land documentation in Zambia and community land documentation in Burma offering lessons on the real costs of rights documentation approaches. We find that data collection costs represent only a fraction of the total cost and effort and broader considerations should be accounted for. This paper explores costs associated with piloting and estimated costs for a scalable approach in Zambia for household documentation and in Burma for community documentation.