Using Participatory Approaches and Innovative Technology to Empower Communities in Securing their Land

Published in: Annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference


Land and resources documentation can improve rural livelihoods by increasing access to credit and encouraging long-term sustainable investments in the land. However, obtaining land documentation can be difficult due to the high costs of surveying land, stringent accuracy requirements, and outdated land registries. To overcome these constraints, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) supported the development of participatory approaches as part of Mobile Applications to Secure Tenure (MAST). Through participatory methods and innovative tools, MAST supports systematic mapping and documentation of community land resources in an efficient, sustainable, and participatory manner. Local community members and land resource managers receive training in resources governance, land rights, and participatory approaches to mapping land and resources. MAST has been tested in Liberia, Tanzania, Zambia, and Burkina-Faso, where it significantly reduced claim processing times, led to increased awareness of land rights by community members, and resulted in unprecedented parity in women’s claims to land ownership.

Key Words: Innovative technology, participatory methods, land rights, resources governance