Low-tech Tools Can Fight Land Corruption, Experts Say

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Technological solutions to prevent land corruption require resources, but they do not have to be expensive, land rights experts said Tuesday.

Satellite imagery, cloud computing and blockchain are among technologies with the potential to help many of the world’s more than 1 billion people estimated to lack secure property rights. But they can be expensive and require experts to be trained.

That’s where low-tech solutions such as Cadastre Registry Inventory Without Paper (CRISP) can be useful, said Ketakandriana Rafitoson, executive director of global anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) in


CRISP helps local activists in Madagascar, one of the world’s poorest countries, document land ownership using tablets with fingerprint readers and built-in cameras, which cost $20 a day to rent.

Users can take pictures of ID cards, location agreements, photos of landowners, their neighbors and any witnesses who were present during land demarcation, Rafitoson told the International Anti-Corruption Conference.

Lack of trust

One challenge in Madagascar is a lack of trust in politicians, Rafitoson said, meaning it is better if local charities are involved, too.

“If we just leave the land authorities with the community, it doesn’t work because they don’t trust each other,” she said.

Corruption in land management ranges from local officials demanding bribes for basic administrative duties to high-level political decisions being unduly influenced, according to TI.

The Dashboard, a tool developed by the International Land Coalition (ILC), is also putting local people at the center of monitoring land deals, said Eva Hershaw, a data specialist at the ILC, a global alliance of nonprofit organizations working on improving land governance.

The Dashboard is being tested in Colombia, Nepal and Senegal, where it allows ILC’s local partners to collect data based on 30 core indicators, including monitoring legal frameworks and how laws are implemented.

Next week, TI Zambia will launch a new phone-based platform, which can advise Zambians on various aspects of land acquisition and guide them through processes around it.

Rueben Lifuka, president of TI Zambia, said users can also report corruption through the platform, including requests for bribes. 

Those affected by corruption can decide whether a copy will be sent to the local authorities, and TI can then track the response.

An improvement in internet coverage in Zambia means it is becoming easier to develop technologies such as the platform, which cost about $34,000 to develop, Lifuka said.

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