SmartSkeMa: Scalable documentation for community and customary land tenure

M.C. Chipofya, Sahib Jan, Angela Schwering

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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According to the online database landmarkmap, up to an estimated 50% or more of the world’s habitable land is held by indigenous peoples and communities. While legal and procedural provisions are being made for bureaucratically managing the many different types of tenure relations in this domain, there continues to be a lack of tools and expertise needed to quickly and accurately document customary and indigenous land rights. Software and hardware tools that have been designed for documenting land tenure through communities continue to assume a parcel-based model of land as well as categories of land relations (RRR) largely dimensionally similar to statutory land rights categories. The SmartSkeMa approach to land tenure documentation combines sketching by hand with aerial imagery and an ontology-based model of local rules regulating land tenure relations to produce a system specifically designed to allow accurate documentation of land tenure from a local perspective. In addition, the SmartSkeMa adaptor which is an OWL-DL based set of rules for translating local land related concepts to the LADM concepts provides a more high-level view of the data collected (i.e., what does this concept relate to within the national LADM profile?) In this paper we present the core functionalities of SmartSkeMa using examples from Kenya and Ethiopia. Based on an expert survey and focus groups held in Kenya, we also analyze how the approach fairs on the Fit-for-Purpose Land Administration tools scale. The results indicate that the approach could be beneficial in scaling up mapping of community and customary lands as well as help reduce conflict through its participatory nature.
Original languageEnglish
Article number662
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2021


  • customary land tenure
  • fit-for-purpose land administration
  • participatory mapping
  • land recordation tools
  • semantic technologies
  • land information system

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