Social Tenure Domain Model featured in FIG Young Surveyors newsletter

The Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) is a tool developed to address the tenure issues in the developing countries mainly for the rural and urban poor. As a land administration system, it has the capacity to record formal and informal land rights including overlapping claims in land. The current version is a Quantum GIS plug-in and postgreSQL for data management.

It was developed by the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), an alliance of over 50 global, regional and national partners contributing to poverty alleviation through land reform and improved land management and security of tenure ( To facilitate its goals, GLTN has been developing a number of tools that are pro poor and gender sensitive such as STDM. The implementing partners such as FIG, World Bank, ITC, and Cities Alliance have contributed enormously in the testing, evaluation and piloting of STDM to attract a big demand globally.

It is a common phrase that everyone has a relation to land. But access and right of use for this noble resource has been restricted to a few, marginalizing the poor whose rights have not been captured in the administration system. With statistics showing that nearly 70% of the land is unregistered in the developing countries, the concern for tenure insecurity in the affected regions is overwhelming.

It is unfortunate that people living in the unregistered land don’t enjoy any benefits and only live in fear of evictions; they cannot access loans or mortgages to develop it. This situation is even worsened by the fact that there are no policy shifts to offset this. Pro poor land tools such as STDM are a new way to provide a conciliatory process to gradually protract the bigger picture of envisioned land system that will be realistic, inclusive, affordable and able to record the layered rights. These approaches are not to a conclusive end in the design of land administration system but incrementally, engage the key actors and influence the process to attract a compromise towards a collaborative, institutionalized debate on continuum of land rights.

This tool is built on global standard of the larger Land Administration Domain Model (LADM) and all its databases and map data are interoperable with other land administration systems implemented at national or local levels. In a nutshell, STDM is a specialization of the Land Administration Domain Model which makes it fit for various contexts and applications for purposes of easy sharing and dissemination. Some of its powerful features include report builder and custom map output, certificate composer and charting module.

To date, GLTN and development partners continue to improve the system including the training package to make it robust enough for dissemination. The network is currently initiating a partnership agreement with FIG and various universities to review STDM and make further recommendations for improvement as it looks to test the tool further in other contexts.

By Solomon Njogu

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