Addressing the Land Information Requirements of the Urban Poor – Phase 2: Scaling Up the Use and Application of the Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM)



Approval Date
Proposal Focus
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type


Increasingly large numbers of city residents in developing countries live in conditions of insecurity of tenure and suffer a combined impact of poverty, social exclusion, and inadequate housing, water and sanitation. According to eviction monitoring NGOs, more than 9.9 million people were affected by forced evictions between 2003-2008, and in 2005 the number of people living in conditions of insecure tenure reached one billion. Tenure insecurity can be defined in a variety of ways. It is the degree of confidence that land users will not be arbitrarily deprived of the rights they enjoy over land and the economic benefits that flow from it. It can be defined as the certainty that an individual’s rights to land will be recognized by others and protected in cases of specific challenges, or, more specifically, the right of all individual and groups to effective government protection against forced eviction. With the large scale of tenure insecurity, there is an urgent need for innovative responses. It is becoming increasingly recognized internationally that land rights are not restricted solely to registered rights, and especially not to individual property rights. It is also clear that for land rights to be affordable at scale, a range of options need to be considered. Land tenure involves a complex set of formal and informal rights, ranging from various rights of use, to conditional or full rights to dispose of the land, referred to by the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) as a ‘continuum of land rights’. Tenure can take a variety of forms, and ‘registered freehold’ should not be seen as the preferred or ultimate form of land rights, but as one of a number of forms appropriate to different situations. Recognizing the diversity of land rights, a critical step is to find ways to adequately record them, and to capture commonly neglected forms of tenure. As a response to this need, UN-HABITAT, in collaboration with the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN) partners International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), International Institute for Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation Management (ITC)(University of Twente) and the World Bank (through a pilot in Ethiopia) has developed the Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) as a land information management framework with the capacity to integrate formal, informal, and customary land rights—reflecting the realities on the ground in many communities. This first phase and the succeeding second phase do not only focus on STDM as software or land information system, but also on how to mainstream the thinking behind the continuum of land rights and how to effectively build capacity of multiple stakeholders on how to use the system. It also provides an opportunity for UN-HABITAT, SDI and other GLTN partners to partner at country-level. It is envisioned that this learning will be further applied and be refined in the succeeding phases of activities involving the further application of STDM in other Ugandan municipalities as well as in other countries with different context and applications. This will also include a comprehensive learning process through SDI’s nodes and other GLTN partners.
The Second Phase Building from the lessons and experiences from the Phase 1 project, UN-Habitat and SDI with other key implementing partners, commit to implement a second phase. The second phase will focus on scaling up the capacity development initiatives on the use and application of Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) in Uganda and in other select cities/countries. The partners agreed that Phase 2 will initiate activities and interventions towards the following key components: a) Phase 1 Lessons Consolidation – Key partners including pilot communities will strengthen the documentation of the process and summarize the key lessons and experiences. The intervention will provide some guidance to the implementation of the next phase of the project and will be used to systematically scale up the use and application of STDM in other areas. b) Technical Assistance – UN-Habitat/GLTN and SDI will provide continuous technical assistance to slum dwellers federations in Uganda particularly in other municipalities and in other countries on the use and application of STDM either for improving tenure security, planning or for other slum improvement purposes. This support could be extended to other GLTN and SDI partners with the same objectives on slum improvement. The support include continuous technical assistance on STDM use including installation, provision of technical advice on the settlement profiling, enumeration and mapping process and provision of technical support in the design and customization of profiling and enumeration questionnaire and STDM software package. c) Capacity Development – This component is at the core of Phase 2 implementation and closely linked with the technical assistance component. The concept is to provide a number of capacity development activities (including a possible on-line training) for interested STDM users. The target participants for capacity development will include those slum federation members, GLTN and SDI partners operating at country level and project leaders who have shown interest and commitment to use and apply STDM in their enumeration and informal settlement improvement work. It is also planned to further support the settlement and enumeration work in other municipalities in Uganda and tests its application in other countries. It is agreed that another regional learning center will be established in the Philippines. d) Lessons Sharing and Advocacy – This component involves the sharing of the lessons and experiences on the use and application of STDM to international audience which may include making presentations, writing papers/articles and/or producing publications and information materials.
Key components and activities will be carried out under this initiative. These are: 1. Phase 1 Lessons Consolidation: This is to further strengthen the process documentation of the enumeration and mapping process adopted during Phase 1 and to consolidate the lessons and experiences. This would also mean further development of STDM as per Phase 1 experience. It is planned to organized meetings with stakeholders and joint missions in Uganda to generate the key lessons and experiences. The initiative will generate some guidance notes on how to replicate the experience in other areas. The initiative will also inform in a systematic way how to scale up the use and application of STDM in similar contexts. 2. Technical Assistance: This component will address the needs and requirements of SDI nodes and other GLTN and SDI partners in planning to expand (i.e. Uganda related work in additional 9 municipalities on top of the TSUPU’s five municipalities) or use STDM in their enumeration work. The component may entail some joint missions, meetings/workshops, internet-based discussion and provision of continuous technical support in the design of the settlement profiling and enumeration questionnaires, setting up the STDM system and customization of STDM for specific project, localities and for specific purposes. UN-Habitat /GLTN and SDI in consultation with key partners like Cities Alliance, University of Twente/ITC, and FIG and national counterparts will have to decide on the priority countries and interventions taking into consideration the available resources, the timing of interventions, the geographical spread, the strength of the partners at country level and other strategic considerations as enumerated above. It is true that the demand is increasing but UN-Habitat and SDI has to make some priorities and strategic choices. It is expected that under this component an implementation plan will have to be agreed upon in relation to the number of the countries and in relation to the types of interventions that will be needed and will be implemented. However, UN-Habitat and SDI and other partners may consider other partnership and funding arrangements outside of this project to address some of the demand from the field. a) Capacity Development: The project is expected to organize a number of capacity development initiatives targeting countries or projects committed to use and implement STDM in their work. UN-Habitat and SDI will come up with a capacity development plan to undertake the related activities with some considerations on the available resources, the intended impacts and other strategic considerations. Under this component, it is also planned to establish another regional learning centre in the Philippines. b) Lessons Sharing and Advocacy: This component involves the sharing of the lessons and experiences on the use and application of STDM to national/international audience which may include making presentations, writing papers/articles and/or producing and disseminating information materials.
Expected Impacts and Results
The long-term objective is to address the land information requirements of women and men living in slum communities and to build their capacity in the use and application of the land information systems based on free and open source software packages and in mainstreaming the thinking behind the continuum of land rights in their community driven approaches like participatory enumerations. This will form a basis for dialogue between local communities and cities in negotiations for improving tenure security, inclusive planning and enhancing access to basic services and infrastructure.