Strategic partnership to improve geo-spatial information on communities’ lands

Photo credit @CADASTA 2019

By Jimmy Gaudin, Land Tenure analyst, IFAD; Madaleine Weber, Communications Director, CADASTA; Emmanuel Sulle, Consultant, IFAD

Secure and equal access to land is fundamental to reduce vulnerability and ensure legal recognition of collective tenure rights for local communities. Acknowledging the need of accurate data and sufficient land maps recognised by governments and the communities themselves, IFAD Land and Indigenous Peoples Desks in coordination with the corporate GIS-team, and in with the Secretariat of the International Land Coalition (ILC), are exploring an innovative approach to better inform GIS data on communities’ lands and to foster their inclusion through a strategic partnership with a public land mapping LandMark platform.

LandMark is the first online, interactive global platform to provide maps and other critical information on lands that are collectively held and used by IPLC. As of today, the indigenous and community land maps cover 12.4 per cent of the world’s land, out of an estimated 50 per cent or more that is held by Indigenous Peoples and communities globally.

The idea is to integrate LandMark data in IFAD corporate GIS platform with the support of technical actors, local NGOs and the communities themselves, thus improving and systematising land assessment and community consultation. In several countries, some but insufficient local communities’ maps are available, hence there is an opening for consolidating and complementing existing information with the collaboration of key stakeholders. The initiative is taking advantage of IFAD’s long-lasting operation and ILC Members’ presence in three African countries, namely Tanzania, India and The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The selection responds to key programmatic and contextual factors and builds on IFAD investments in areas inhabited by local communities.

In Tanzania, the initiative capitalises on the IFAD-funded Sustainable Rangeland Management Project (SRMP) embedded in the ILC National Engagement Strategy (NES) and the Rangeland Working Group. Under SRMP, a number of maps of community village lands as well as livestock routes were registered with the Government-led National Land Use Planning Commission (NLUPC) who established a database of maps. For the last three months, a consultant has collecting and uploaded the maps of village land use plans, certified land and ‘community lands’ that are publically available and/or can be made publically available. Scheduled for 20 December, a workshop will bring together practitioners in the field to first, discuss the initial results of this exercise of collecting available maps from various stakeholders in the land sector. Besides, the workshop will reflect on the challenges for a public platform like LandMark or any other national and international platform to access and collect official data from Governments and/or Communities. In addition, the report will elaborate on possible innovative approaches with recommendations to deal with the political context of maps in Tanzania.

In India, Cadasta Foundation provides services for mapping indigenous people and local communities’ land in Jharkhand and Odisha States to inform IFAD operation, namely Odisha Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups Empowerment and Livelihoods Improvement Programme (OPELIP). The ultimate objective is to strengthen the livelihoods of marginalized forest-dwelling communities through effective land and resource documentation. Cadasta staff worked with the local non-profit organization Professional Assistance for Development Action (PRADAN) in Baliguda Block to provide training on land documentation theory and the technological application of surveying and data collection. The team went into the field in two forest villages to meet with community members, discuss the project and test data collection and survey materials. While in the field, Cadasta staff found that many individuals in this community had no clear documentation or guidelines for proving their land claims, disenfranchising their ability to develop the land and use its resources. With Cadasta’s training and Esri-based tools, the project team can more efficiently collect accurate geospatial data to document the rights of each individual to the parcel being documented. To date, the team has documented over 300 parcels.

In the DRC, the Réseau CREF, in collaboration with the National Commission for Land Reform and other ILC members support the newly launched IFAD-funded Projet d’Appui au Secteur Agricole dans la Province du Nord Kivu (PASA-NK). Their activities focus on improving the cadastre in rural areas while considering local communities’ lands that are suffering from poor access to land, and recurrent conflict related to natural resources.

Thanks to the Innovation Challenge Fund, IFAD and its partners have an opportunity to test the potential of a multi-actors partnership on geospatial interventions to improve and secure collective tenure rights. It also gives the opportunity to reflecting on the challenges to deal with the political context of maps and to develop innovative approaches accordingly. We believe that strategic partnership can facilitate the access to and the collection of validated data in an innovative and inclusive manner while ensuring their dissemination for a better recognition of indigenous people and local communities’ land.