Secure Tenure on Zanzibar

Project Profile

Secure Tenure in African Cities - Home 


Project selected under the Innovation Programme Call for Proposals 2019:

Secure Tenure in African Cities: Micro Funds for Community Innovation


Secure Tenure on Zanzibar


What is the problem?

The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar (RGoZ) has struggled to provide Certificates of Occupancy to citizens. Without such documents, however, land users may face ownership, management, and tenure issues and delays in development projects.


Where does it occur?
Zanzibar Archipelago, East Africa


Who does it affect? 
Land owners, users, and developers in Zanzibar


What are the causes?
Property records for the Zanzibar Archipelago are largely nonexistent, and traditional methods of data acquisition are insufficient for obtaining or compiling these records. There may be hundreds of thousands of plots that need to be documented but there are not enough government surveyors or equipment to complete the work. Thus, it is currently difficult if not impossible for RGoZ to provide Certificates of Occupancy to all land owners and users within a reasonable timeframe.


The goal of the project is to set up a data model and data collection protocols and tools that will enable RGoZ to use ubiquitous technologies such as smart phones, tablets, and drones to digitally collect information on land use in a fraction of the time required by previous methods. The project will also develop a field guide and criteria for selection of tools and methods; create custom mobile application and web platform to collect data; train stakeholders on data collection and management; collect data in a pilot area; and support the RGoZ Commission for Lands in data processing. The target is to set in motion activities that will enable RGoZ to adjudicate for 50% of owners in the coming months and years. Further, the project aims to enhance the local capacity and institutional development necessary to support the design and implementation of evidence-driven urban property rights interventions. Finally, citizens are expected to benefit from the project by obtaining Certificates of Occupancy on their properties, unlocking the assets within them.


Project Update (as of December 2019)


Achivements so far

Capacity Building and fostering partnerships: Together with the RGoZ Commission for Lands, Spatial Collective has completed the review of the land adjudication process. The company has assessed the efficiency of data collection methods and completed the subsequent redesign of the paper-based adjudication form. Working with Cadasta Foundation, they built a smart-phone and web-based platform for digital data collection and tested the application in the field with the Adjudication Department of the RGoZ Commission for Lands. They documented all findings to stakeholders, including criteria for the selection of tools and methods.


Lessons learned

While the accuracy of location data, collected by using tablet or mobile phone-based solutions together with drone imagery, cannot achieve the accuracy of a professional grade GPS unit currently used by the government, Spatial Collective’s research shows that it is still very high and in most cases satisfactory.   Further, simplifying the data collection tools and methods can benefit the RGoZ Commission for Lands in several ways, for example: All of the data is digitally recorded and stored, which leads to better data management. The ease-of-use enables the deployment of a large contingent of enumerators, significantly speeding up the process of collecting data.


Moving forward

The RGoZ Commission for Lands Executive Director has approved the commencement of data collection activities within the pilot area. Working with the Commission for Lands, Spatial Collective will take the following steps: Train a group of enumerators on using the new tools and methods of data collection. Carry out data collection in the pre-selected area of Zanzibar City. Train Commission’s staff on data management. Provide a comprehensive proof of concept report for scaling up operations in Zanzibar.



About the grant recipient

Spatial Collective is a Nairobi-based, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and technology consulting company that
operates primarily in East Africa. Its model consists of training and supporting communities and organisations on
adopting available technologies to collect data that is important to them.

Most of Spatial Collective’s work is conducted in difficult environments where there is little existing data and on issues of
significant global importance ranging from property rights, environmental management, livelihoods, economic prosperity,
formal and informal governance initiatives, and safety and security.


Resources from this project


Photo by: Spatial Collective

Photo by: Spatial Collective


Project Update (December 2019)