Tanzania Land Tenure Project Wins USAID Digital Development Award

December 13, 2018

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has announced the Feed the Future Tanzania Land Tenure Assistance (LTA) project as one of the 2018 Digital Development Award winners, also known as the “Digis.” LTA was awarded for its innovative use of GPS technology to survey and register land in rural communities and for its development of a digital registry to document property transfers. These improvements in secure land tenure have led to increased access to inputs and financing for small farmers, reduced property disputes, and a new market for buying and selling land.

Most land in rural Tanzania is informally handed down over generations with little documentation of ownership, leading to undetermined boundary lines and property disputes that leave fields uncultivated. To improve formal land tenure, LTA works in 41 communities to survey and register parcels and issue Certificates of Customary Right of Occupancy to individual landholders. The project trains local parasurveyors to demarcate parcels using a GPS-enabled tablet or smartphone that overlays property boundary points on a satellite image of the village. This field data is uploaded to a cloud server and used by the project’s geographic information systems specialists to generate a community land ownership map and create official land certificates.

Using this efficient digital surveying system, the project has mapped almost 63,000 parcels and helped 21,000 Tanzanians to secure their land rights and improve their lives.

The Digi award also recognizes LTA’s work building a digital land registry system that enables government officials to more easily verify property ownership and track land sales, replacing a cost-intensive and out-of-date paper-based system. Development of the new registry reflected a lean human-centered design approach that involved close collaboration with end-users from national, district, and local land offices.

“It is exciting to see one of DAI’s project recognized with a Digi award,” said Krista Baptista, Senior Director of DAI’s Center for Digital Acceleration. “LTA’s work exemplifies how digital solutions have the greatest chances of success when they are designed not just with the users in mind, but also in the room. It’s an approach we try to exemplify in of our work at the Center for Digital Acceleration.”

The Digis are awarded by the U.S. Global Development Lab to recognize USAID projects for their innovative use of digital technologies and data to advance international development goals and support partner countries in their journey to self-reliance. This year, more than 140 projects applied, from which five winners were chosen. DAI is proud to be a 2018 awardee alongside four distinguished digital innovators:

  • Digital Inclusion in the Peruvian Amazon, implemented by Centro de Información y Educación para la Prevención del Abuso de Drogas; USAID Peru.
  • FlaveDor and the Moldova Competitiveness Project, implemented by Chemonics; USAID Moldova.
  • Jamii Africa and SHOPS Plus Program, implemented by Abt Associates in partnership with Edgepoint Digital; USAID Tanzania.
  • WeMUNIZE and the Maternal and Child Survival Program, implemented by Black Swan Tech Ltd.; USAID Nigeria.
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