Methods for Determining Land Formalization Cost-effectiveness: The Per-parcel Cost and Quality of USAID’s MAST Pilot in Tanzania

Published in: Annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference

Technical and financial requirements for land formalization programs are substantial, prompting donor and government interest to find low-cost approaches to customary land documentation and registration. Such programs must be feasible to implement at scale, with manageable time, personnel and technical requirements, but also provide sufficiently high-quality service delivery to meet development objectives and ensure sustainability of the process beyond initial donor support. Currently there is no standard approach in the land sector for determining per-parcel costs or cost-effectiveness of such programs. Such analyses could, however, help clarify resource needs and potential efficiencies, identify how differences across approaches may contribute to overall quality and sustainability, and facilitate selection from a range of options. We draw on cost-effectiveness analyses and qualitative data collection with district land staff and program beneficiaries to estimate the cost-per-parcel and associated quality dimensions of USAID’s Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST) pilot approach to map land and facilitate formal documentation of customary use rights in Tanzania. While cost data present several uncertainties, results suggest evidence of a trade-off between per-unit cost and quality, and identify advantages of the MAST system that appear to benefit overall quality, CCRO delivery time, and beneficiary trust in the process.

Key Words: Land formalization, MAST, Tanzania