A key priority for Cadasta Foundation following our launch in early 2015 was to identify long term organizational partners that have a track record of delivering impactful work with beneficiaries in strengthening their land and resource rights. In addition to being aligned to our overall mission, this real world experience really underpins our user-centric design approach to development of the Cadasta Platform.
As a start-up, it was also important for us to find partners willing to work through our many challenges and iterations of early product development and testing. We’re delighted to have found such a partner in Namati. In addition to the partnership described below, this commitment to collaboration is further exemplified by Namati’s Rachael Knight coming on board as the first member of our Strategic Advisory Group during our start up phase back in 2014.
Namati is an international non-profit organization focused on legal empowerment of marginalized groups. Their work on Community Land Protection around the globe has led the way in demonstrating how a combination of legal and technical supports to grassroots communities can help protect customary and indigenous lands. By sharing practical lessons and materials, such as the recently released Community Land Protection Facilitator’s Guide, Namati ensures that the expertise and experience of Namati and its local partner organizations are made accessible to any NGO or CSO interested in working to protect community rights to lands and natural resources.
The processes that Namati has developed for documenting and strengthening community rights has long been of interest to Cadasta staff. Their sharing of insights and experience is critical as we build a technology tool set, and knowledge sharing ecosystem, that can contribute to global efforts to better document land and other resource rights of citizens from vulnerable and other marginalized groups.
Our Work Together
Our partnership with Namati received a boost when, in August 2015, the Omidyar Network awarded a small grant to Cadasta and Namati to test tools and participatory methodologies for collecting, recording and sharing community land rights information. From the outset, the plan was to test these tools with a number of new Namati partners that had applied for support from the Community Land Protection initiative. Namati and Cadasta then collaborated to review the processes, technical capacity, and long term goals of these newly selected partners in order to identify fit-for-purpose methodologies and tools for data collection and management.
This past January, the Namati Land Team hosted Cadasta outside of Oakland for a two day technical workshop focused on approaches and tools for collecting data in the field and processes for managing the data within the Cadasta platform. This workshop was incredibly helpful in identifying gaps in data collection applications that Cadasta integrates with (such as ODK and GeoODK), as well as allowing Cadasta to gain direct feedback on the Platform from applied experts at Namati. That feedback was immediately fed back into our product development cycle. This initial training to Namati was also intended to build their capacity so that further training of field partners could be conducted by Namati staff.
In February, Namati conducted an initial workshop with a new partner organization, the Ogiek Peoples Development Program (OPDP), in Nakuru, Kenya. The training, led by Marena Brinkhurst of Namati, with technical assistance from one of our recently hired Developers, Erick Opiyo, was designed to provide initial introduction to the potential approaches and tools available for mapping community lands, how they could integrate with the larger community land protection process, and test out the tools in field simulations. Marena and Erick also collected feedback on the tools and processes. Following the training, OPDP was then able to select their tools of choice for data collection and management. They will now receive further training and conduct additional field testing in the coming months, with their formal field program scheduled to commence in May 2016.
Partner Feedback is Crucial
For Cadasta, a partner with global reach and technical expertise like that of Namati is critical to our success. We value the insights and feedback they are able to provide regarding how the Cadasta Platform can increase their efficiency and efficacy as they work to document and protect the rights of those individuals and communities currently faced with tenure insecurity. We look forward to ongoing collaboration with Namati as the field programs are implemented over the coming months and years.