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Geospatial technology innovations for land tenure security in East Africa

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - its4land (Geospatial technology innovations for land tenure security in East Africa)

Reporting period: 2018-08-01 to 2020-01-31

Sub Saharan Africa has an immense challenge to rapidly and cheaply map millions of unrecognized land rights in the region. Existing approaches for mapping and recording these land rights have failed: land disputes abound, investment is impeded, and the communities poorest usually lose out. Good land records can help to deliver tenure security, dispute reduction, investment opportunities, and good governance: secure land rights are the cornerstone of much of the economic, environmental, and social security across the developed world. In this vein, its4land is using strategic collaboration between the EU and East Africa to deliver an innovative, scalable, and transferrable ICT solution - one that fits with the Eastern African context - whilst delivering mutual benefits to both the EU and Eastern Africa. The main objective of its4land is to develop an innovative suite of land tenure recording tools inspired by geo-information technologies, that responds to end-user needs and market opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa, reinforcing an existing strategic collaboration between EU and East Africa. The specific objectives for its4land are to 1) capture the specific needs, market opportunities, and readiness of end-users in the domain of land tenure information recording in Eastern Africa; 2) co-design, adapt, integrate, demonstrate, and validate a land tenure recording suite based on small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV's), smart sketch maps, automated feature extraction, and geocloud services; and 3) develop and valorize a governance model that realizes the innovation process by aligning end-users conditions, technological opportunity, business models, and capacity building requirements. Supporting the work, established local, national, and international partnerships drive the project results beyond R&D into the commercial realm. In addition, its4land utilizes an innovation process to deliver land recording services that are end-user responsive, market-driven, and fit-for-purpose. The transdisciplinary work also develops supportive models for governance, capacity development, and business. Gender-sensitive analysis and design is also incorporated. Set in the East African development hotbeds of Rwanda, Kenya, and Ethiopia, 3 major phases host 8 work packages that enable contextualization, design, and eventual land sector transformation. The experienced consortium is multi-sectoral, multi-national, and multidisciplinary. It includes SMEs and researchers from 3 EU countries and 3 East African countries.
The first year of the project has focused on the two major objectives: 1) understanding the needs and specific country contexts; and 2) starting design and prototyping of three of the geospatial technologies (smart sketchmaps, UAVs, and automatic boundary extraction). The first part of the work has been led by KU-Leuven via the 'Get Needs' work package and the second has been led by WWU-Muenster and the University of Twente through the 'Draw and Make', 'Fly and Create' and 'Automate It' work packages. In each, there has been a close collaboration with the Eastern African academic partners at Bahir Dar University in Ethiopia, Technical University of Kenya, and INES Ruhengeri in Rwanda. In addition, private sector involvement from Hansa Luftbild and ESRI Rwanda has been ensuring a commercial mindset is at the fore. The project aims, objectives, methods, innovations, and governance are still as originally described. The consortium has been working towards the data collection, piloting and demonstration activities at six case study locations. Needs assessment included reconnaissance visits to the sites, conducting workshops within the consortium, and empirical data collection in each of the countries. Subsequent analysis provided evidence of specific needs, market opportunities and readiness of end-users. Data collection activities have been also undertaken for the development of the first version of the smart sketch maps ontology. Qualitative representation of sketch maps, documentation of extended LADM and a prototype for sketch map alignment have been developed as well. In regards to the use of the UAVs test locations in Germany (Gronau) and France (Toulouse) have been used to trial data acquisition methods and undertake training. Preliminary results in terms of data quality evaluations with test flights have been achieved. In Africa its4land completed the first UAV flights in Rwanda and Kenya. Due to substantial delays with the UAV flight permission in Ethiopia, we have conducted data collection activities in Tanzania/Zanzibar as a risk mitigation strategy to avoid further delays. Tool development for automatic cadastral boundary extraction has also been completed and mainly tested on data from Germany and Rwanda. Recently the work on developing an image-processing system for hosting the tools for boundary delineation on UAV orthomosaics and a qualitative data processing system for hosting sketchmap tools has been accomplished. Developed on the Publish and Share platform, it provides a scalable runtime environment, a unified set of services for data management and interaction with tools developed in other work packages. Sustainable governance and capacity building of its4land project has also been investigated. The development of a governance model has also started. Findings from its4land work have been published in scientific journals, conference papers, and posters and have been shared through presentations and workshops. Meanwhile, the Management Team (MT), Advisory Board (AB), Valorization Panel (VP), communications channels, exploitation plans, and data management plan are functioning as expected.
The project is beginning to move beyond the state of the art in all its intended impact areas: partnership building, ICT advances, end-user understandings, enhancing innovation capacity, revealing global markets, and supporting environmental and social conditions. It has produced one of the first fully detailed needs assessments in land administration and provided a framework for other practitioners. Developed its4land ICT fit-for-purpose solutions based on emerging geoinformation technologies are rapidly expediting land tenure recording. They are collaboratively designed, adapted, integrated, demonstrated, and validated based on market opportunities and defined end-user needs. The sketch map approach allows the collection of land tenure information that is not accessible via orthophotos and provides a voice for people to talk to authorities. The use of UAV enables communities to produce maps for land tenure recording independently, or in collaboration with nationwide initiatives faster, cheaper and more accurate. The automation of image interpretation supports the delineation of parcel boundaries consistently and contributes to systematic data updating. Developed geocloud services coupled enable previously unforeseen methods for rapid spatial data acquisition, maintenance, and validation. Its4land produced one of the first fully detailed governance & capacity development assessments as well as models in land administration and provided a framework for relevant policy makers. Regarding the impact on end-users – including local communities, SMEs, NGOs, and government – the suit of tools enables local communities and governments alike to adjudicate, demarcate, survey, and record land tenure information that for too long has been unavailable or obscured.
its4land - logo
its4land - get needs
its4land - consortium
its4land - work packages
its4land - impact
its4land - dissemination
its4land - fly and create
its4land - draw and make
its4land - project design
its4land - automate it