Mobile Applications to Secure Tenure (MAST) Learning Platform

What is MAST?MAST in the FieldOverview: MAST TechnologyOverview: MAST Implementation

USAID has launched the Land Technology Solutions (LTS) project to expand its successful Mobile Applications to Secure Tenure (MAST) initiative. MAST is a suite of innovative technology tools and inclusive methods that uses mobile devices and a participatory approach to efficiently, transparently, and affordably map and document land and resource rights.

MAST helps communities define, map, record, and document their land and resources. MAST provides easy-to-use mobile phone applications that empower citizens in the process of understanding their rights and documenting their land and resources. It combines the applications with a simple data management platform to capture the information necessary for securing rights. This includes names and photos of people using and occupying land, details about what the land is used for, and a basis for their claim to the land. On-the-ground training and participatory approaches help make the MAST process inclusive and build the capacity of communities to understand their resource rights.

How MAST Works

MAST is the combination of mobile application and technology platforms with on-the-ground training and participatory approaches. This customizable combination is designed to engage communities in quickly, accurately, and transparently mapping and documenting land and resource rights.

The diagram below illustrates how the MAST suite of mobile applications and data management platform work as part of the larger MAST process.

Graphic: MAST Technology

The diagram below illustrates the MAST implementing and participatory mapping component work as part of the larger MAST process.

Graphic: MAST Implementation

MAST in the Field

MAST is an innovative technology that utilizes participatory methods to document land and natural resources to enhance rights and tenure. MAST has been used with great success in a number of countries, including Burkina Faso, Zambia and Tanzania . Host country governments and communities can utilize MAST to strengthen land tenure and address persistent development issues. Click on each of the Development Objectives below and explore the Find out more page to see how MAST relates to a variety of development work. Or click on each of the countries in the map below to access country-specific information on lessons learned, data, best practices and more.

Preventing and Mitigating Conflict over Land and Resources
Creating Incentives to Improve Agricultural Productivity, Reducing Hunger and Poverty
Promoting Gender Equality and Enabling Women’s Economic Empowerment
Enabling More Responsible Land-Based Investment
Creating Incentives to Manage Natural Resources Efficiently and Sustainably
Improving Resilience to Shocks and Stresses

MAST in Burkina Faso

Under the five-year USAID Evaluation Research and Communications (ERC) Project (2013-2018), implemented by the Cloudburst Group, MAST was successfully used in four villages of the Boudry Commune. Under this activity in Burkina Faso, which took place between August 2014 and February 2017, the National Land Observatory (NLO) received operational and technical support. In late 2016 within 25 days, villagers used MAST to map and capture data on 2,708 rural land parcels (compared to the goal of 2000 parcels). The NLO also worked closely with the government of Burkina Faso and this initiative resulted in overall strengthened local land governance, with a future land information system under development.

Click here for a complete library of briefs, success stories, progress reports, and social media toolkits from the ERC project.

MAST in Zambia

USAID’s Tenure and Global Climate Change (TGCC) Program, implemented by Tetra Tech, is a five-year project 2013-2018) aimed at identifying and testing models that strengthen resource tenure governance and increase the effectiveness of climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Under TGCC, activities are being implemented in Zambia, Nepal, Burma, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama. In Zambia, the TGCC Program is linking MAST with traditional community engagement practices, like participatory mapping and support to village governance structures. These practices improve land-use planning by marrying community level information with government records through multi-stakeholder dialogue. TGCC encourages scaling by working with government, chiefs, and civil society to customize these tools for local uses.

Furthermore, USAID is implementing a randomized controlled trial, impact evaluation in Zambia to test the hypothesis that tenure security is a necessary prerequisite for farmers to invest time and energy into climate-smart agricultural practices. The impact evaluation includes 3,523 household surveys, 294 headperson surveys, key informant interviews in 294 villages, as well as focus group discussion data from 45 villages, and comprehensive monitoring, evaluation and geospatial project data. The baseline data has so far revealed strong quantitative evidence that TGCC has a positive impact on perceptions of improved tenure security. Moreover, for households receiving the customary tenure intervention, there is evidence of increased long-term field investments (planting basins, rotating crops, fallowing and fertilizer application). Poor households, including female-headed households, also feel more confident that they can leave their fields fallow longer without a threat of encroachment or reallocation. You can access the Zambia Impact Evaluation baseline data and reports on this page.

Click here for a complete library of fact sheets, infographics, success stories, and project briefs on the Zambia TGCC activity.

MAST in Tanzania

The USAID Feed the Future Tanzania Land Tenure Assistance (LTA) Activity, implemented by DAI, is a four-year project (2015-2019) which seeks to clarify and document land ownership, increase local understanding of land use and land rights, and support land use planning at the village, district and national levels. Under this project, the MAST technology is being updated to match local needs and a successful MAST pilot project tested an approach for the mapping of land parcels, adjudication, and delivery of Certificates of Customary Right of Occupancy (CCROs). To date, (November 2017), 83% of disputes have been resolved at a local level with the support of MAST, pver 11,500 parcels have been mapped, and 250 CCROs are being registered per day, with about 4000 CCROs fully processed.

In addition, USAID has commissioned an Impact Evaluation of the LTA Activity in Tanzania which is set to conclude in 2019. The impact evaluation incorporates a randomized controlled trial design to rigorously test how mobile mapping and facilitation of land tenure certification affect income, women’s empowerment, dispute prevalence, and other factors related to land use and tenure security in Iringa District, Tanzania.

Click here for a complete library of fact sheets, infographics, success stories, the baseline report of the impact evaluation, project briefs, and more.

Find out more »

MAST Technology

MAST is a suite of tools and approaches that supports the collection and management of land rights and resource information. It integrates mobile applications and a web-based data management platform with participatory on-the-ground approaches.

The mobile application enables field teams to collect spatial, attribute, and multimedia data about land parcels and natural resources. Data is collected and stored on mobile devices and transferred to a cloud-based platform for data processing and management. This platform provides advanced functionality reviewed, processed, and approved for the preparation of land certificates.

MAST Mobile Applications
MAST Data Management Platform
Key Features

How MAST Technology Works

The diagram below illustrates how the MAST suite of mobile applications and data management platform work as part of the larger MAST process.

Find out more »

MAST Implementation

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.

The 5 Implementation Principles

Five key principles guide implementation of MAST projects:

Principle 1: Align with other partners throughout implementation for sustainability
Principle 2: Ensure inclusivity to reduce the potential for land-related conflict and encourage participation and community ownership
Principle 3: Build capacity to empower communities
Principle 4: Target women and vulnerable groups to increase land tenure security and promote gender equality
Principle 5. Establish and communicate roles for efficient workflows

The 5 Phases of Implementation

Phase 1: Mobilization and assessment
Phase 2: Mapping preparations
Phase 3: Community mapping
Phase 4: Validation and delivery
Phase 5: Sustainability

The diagram below illustrates the MAST implementing and participatory mapping component work as part of the larger MAST process.

Learn More

blog posts