Using Mobile Phones, GPS, and the Cloud to Deliver Faster, Cheaper and More Transparent Land Titles: The Case Of Burkina Faso

Published in: Annual World Bank Land and Poverty Conference

Burkina Faso passed a groundbreaking law “On Rural Land Tenure” in 2009. This law gave the country’s rural people the right to receive a document — a Rural Land Possession Certificate (APFR) — that recognizes their customary land rights. The law also established a new system of rural land administration to validate and register these rights.

Unfortunately, very few people across the country have received APFRs since 2009. At the operational level, this is due to the fact that villages are remote, information is limited, and the traditional method of processing APFR requests required extensive funding and expertise.

In response, in 2016-2017 USAID supported a pilot project to test a mobile technology platform for mapping land plots and capturing all data needed to prepare APFRs. This platform, the Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST), was configured to follow the processes set forth in the laws of Burkina Faso, and then tested in Boudry Commune. Villagers with basic skills used MAST to map and enter data on 2,638 land plots in a matter of weeks. The information was then transferred by internet to the various government offices for approval. This work was done faster than prior efforts and with comparable accuracy.

Key Words: Africa; customary ownership; land registration; law; technology