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Adoption of volunteered geographic information into the formal land administration system in Kenya

Siriba, David N., Dalyot, Sagi
Land use policy 2017 v.63 pp. 279-287
case studies, information systems, issues and policy, land tenure, models, spatial data, Kenya
Individualization of tenure through title registration programmes introduced in many African countries after independence with the promise of security of tenure and increased agricultural productivity has, instead, had the opposite effect. Informal land arrangements continue to emerge as a result of the slow pace of land adjudication (formalization) and updating of land information systems. The trend towards computerization of land information systems has only put focus on already existing formal land tenure arrangements, leaving out the informal social tenure arrangements. As a result, there are now many efforts worldwide motivated by the introduction of the Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM), and freely-available and easy-to-use technology tools to identify, document and map land in support of informal land administration arrangements. Actions are made towards the use of community-generated information to support land administration. Using theories from the interplay between formal and informal institutions, this paper discusses the potential outcomes in adopting Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) in land administration in Kenya. Two case studies are presented that demonstrate the complementary-accommodating, versus the substitutive-competing approaches. These are then compared with the formal land adjudication process in Kenya. It is established that because of the direct involvement of the national mapping agency in land adjudication where VGI is utilized, the outcome is a case of formal adoption of VGI, while in the other case, where there is little or no involvement by the national mapping agency, the outcome is more of competition and substitution. The latter is an example in which the VGI is used just like any other information to inform policy making, rather than taking it as the authoritative source. We argue that since informality is – and will always be – part and parcel of land administration in many African countries as a result of ingrained social relations and power structures, adopting crowdsourced land information into existing formal land administration systems should consider the particular land administration process, satisfying innate demands and requirements, thus re-engineered to accommodate VGI.