The key principles below represent best-practice for documenting land and resource rights on previous USAID projects. These projects used mobile technologies and engaged communities directly in the process of mapping their lands and documenting land rights. Implementers should keep the key principles in mind while developing their implementation strategies. To guide the strategy, we outline five main phases, with several steps in each one. Implementers should adapt the outlined phases to the technical, social, political, economic, and environmental contexts of the area where MAST is to be implemented. Combining best practices with adaptability can stimulate long-term fulfillment of a project’s goals.
The LTS Implementation Guide offers a high-level approach to MAST implementation that reflects these best practices and lessons learned from previous MAST projects.
Five key principles guide implementation of MAST projects:
Aligning a MAST project with national priorities and identifying opportunities for government engagement in implementation helps build government support for the project, and may help build commitment for scaling MAST in the long-term. This requires understanding the socio-political context of the country and how institutions function to ensure that MAST projects align with national laws, development priorities, and institutional capacities.
Similarly, understanding the donor and project landscape helps implementers to link communities with appropriate technical assistance programs – be they focused on providing credit, expanding income generation opportunities, or promoting health and hygiene – to achieve long term economic development. Creative thinking throughout the project about innovative business modeling and opportunities to partner with other land management technologies should also be a focus.
Engaging with the community is essential for increasing the implementer’s knowledge of local land uses, tenure arrangements, and avenues for participatory processes; for increasing the community’s awareness of land laws, processes, and rights; for forging partnerships for implementation; and for ensuring community buy-in for the MAST project and its proposed processes. Implementers should establish mechanisms for community participation throughout the life of the project – including, but not limited to workshops and educational campaigns – as well as forums in which community leaders and members can express their concerns about land tenure issues. To encourage participation and ensure that MAST processes are inclusive, trainings and community engagements should be iterative and include multiple levels of engagement – from community leaders to resource users, if possible.
Targeted, inclusive training programs build local capacity to implement and maintain MAST as well as to participate in decision-making around land and resource management. Trainings should include men, women, and representatives of other vulnerable groups, including seasonal herders and fishers. Training should largely be administered prior to mapping and include opportunities for knowledge-sharing about local land tenure arrangements, land rights, land documentation processes, and project-specific practicalities, including who needs to be involved, when, and how. Implementers may target women or community surveyors for supplemental training.
Implementers should focus on increasing the participation of vulnerable groups in community-wide trainings. Doing so often means more localized and/or disaggregated engagements, as women, in particular, have been found to participate much more when in smaller groups and in situations with only women present. In addition to including vulnerable groups in community-wide trainings, these trainings should include overviews of land rights of vulnerable groups, including youth, seasonal herders and fishers, ethnic minorities, and the landless. Appropriate gender-specific activities should be determined following the needs assessment, but could include incorporating gender-specific materials in program activities and emphasizing the importance of having women attend community-level trainings, workshops, and community activities.
Clear roles and responsibilities help MAST projects achieve agreed-upon objectives in a timely manner. Implementers should outline the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders involved in the project during project mobilization to improve management and avoid delays in key activities. These roles should be updated throughout the life of the project, as necessary.
Careful task and activity management is also necessary to ensure time and cost efficiency of mapping, from data collection through data validation and verification.
In this phase, implementers work to understand the national, regional, district, and local contexts and engage stakeholders to refine activities outlined into an appropriate implementation strategy for a given context. Understanding institutional and legal frameworks with regards to land administration, patterns of tenure, capacities of regional or district institutions, and local dynamics within potential communities or target areas is critical to building effective and inclusive implementation mechanisms.
Implementers raise awareness of the project, forge relationships, communicate project requirements and activities, and build capacities of local authorities. At this phase, an implementation strategy should be finalized and the roles and responsibilities of the local government authorities, communities, and implementing partners should be defined. This strategy should align well with both the project goals as well as the priorities of the community. Implementers provide trainings to institutions that will support the MAST intervention at the regional, district, or local levels, including trainings focused on local laws related to documenting land rights as well as practicalities of using MAST for mapping, processing, and managing data. Emphasis should be placed on the importance of including women and vulnerable groups in all project processes.
Implementers prepare the community with sub-community level engagements, train and select community surveyors, and implement the land demarcation process itself. Local outreach meetings provide communities with an overview of the project, an understanding of the mapping process, an outline of land laws and rights, and potential conflict resolution mechanisms. Selected community surveyors receive training in MAST technologies and processes for collecting information in the field. These trained surveyors walk resource or parcel boundaries with other community members and verify information through an interactive dialogue with land users and their neighbors. Information is captured with MAST.
Typical outputs of this interactive mapping process include the validation of this information within the community itself, and an inventory of individual or community land holdings, which can then help secure land and resource rights. The mapped community receives a transparent presentation of the mapped land and resources. This provides an opportunity for community members to identify any issues related to land and resource uses or general occupancy of land parcels. The implementer supports community leaders in working with land users to certify land record documents. This certification phase allows both leaders and community members to address any outstanding disputes or incorrect information. Once land information is validated by both citizens and community leaders, a certificate could be printed documenting the occupancy, persons, and their land holdings.
This phase is not sequential, but rather parallel to the others. Incorporating 1) best practices in project design, 2) monitoring and evaluating efforts, and 3) partnerships for sustainability – throughout the project expands the positive outcomes MAST can provide. Ideally, Implementers link MAST communities with programs and organizations providing additional technical services or promoting development. Aligning the implementation with the goals of governments and other organizations, while also remaining flexible and incorporating lessons learned from monitoring and evaluation can help both the immediate and long-term success of the implementation efforts.
The diagram below illustrates the MAST implementing and participatory mapping component work as part of the larger MAST process.