Documenting Property Rights in Post Conflict Kosovo

Cadasta recently commenced a pilot project collaboration with the Kosovo Cadastral Agency (KCA) on adapting our technology driven solutions to improve efficiency within the registry and cadastral operations of Kosovo for field documentation of property rights claims. The pilot focused on the village of Krusha e Madhe, a community which suffered tremendously during the Kosovo conflict, with most of the males of the community having been abducted and presumed killed. As a result, the women of the villages lack formal registration to the land and the homes they occupy, or at best, possess only property documents in the names of their missing male relatives.

Krusha e Madhe was selected as a pilot location given the vulnerability of the population in regards to their property rights; in addition to the presence of successful cooperatives with growth constrained by the lack of access to credit. Furthermore, with their legal rights property rights in jeopardy, the Cadasta platform serves as an intermediate step of documentation prior to full registration.

This activity falls within the World Bank funded Real Estate and Cadastre Project that is assisting the government in producing a national cadastre system and develop the necessary geospatial data infrastructure. As part of the project, the World Bank and Kosovo Cadastral Agency (KCA) has prioritized testing the use of innovative technology. To date, the KCA has also worked with UAVs to collect high resolution imagery, and there is an interest in using mobile technology to replace paper based processes for data collection.


Working with the World Bank Kosovo team, Cadasta collaborate to pilot mobile data collection activities and the Cadasta platform, focusing on the use of Field Papers for collection of data on paper maps using the drone imagery as a basemap, GeoODK for collecting spatial data (through tracing drone imagery or using a built in GPS) and completing the required questionnaires (inclusive of photos) on an android tablet, and managing the data within the Cadasta platform.  This would replace the current practice that involves taking a paper copy of the cadastral map into the field, paper copies of registry data, and then going through the questionnaire on a paper form, which is then transcribed when the forms are eventually sent back to the office, and finally integrated into a temporary adjudication database.  Cadasta proposes that by digitizing this process in the field and using the Cadasta platform as an intermediate step, the approach could be made more efficient, accurate, and provide greater details.

Following a half day of training in the platform and data collection tools, field data collection forms were revised based on feedback from the KCA, and the data collection updated in order to allow for data collected in the field to have maximum utility.  Later in the week Cadasta assisted the KCA with field data collection using both Field Papers and GeoODK in order to gain feedback from the KCA, test the utility of the tools and verify the time needed to collect data versus using traditional methods.  The field pilot led to further revision in the data being collected, and confirmed that using the mobile application did not add any additional time, while also allowing the benefit of more consistent data collection (using drop down lists), the ability to capture photos or properties and documentation of properties, and the collection of geospatial data that is linked to the form – both verifying that data was collected on site in the case of private contractors collecting data, and creating an initial spatial database.

Useful feedback regarding data collection tools and the platform was also provided during field testing. We quickly realized, for example, that the data collection form in GeoODK needed to be updated to allow for multiple objects (buildings) with different owners to be permitted within the same official parcel.  We also realized that Field Papers, while great for printing with a standard high resolution satellite imagery, is not quite ready for the 2-3 cm imagery that we had available, so we’ll need to contribute some time to the open source application so that Cadasta, and others, can benefit from UAV imagery within Field Papers.

We appreciate the willingness of the KCA and the World Bank team to test new tools.The combination of mobile data collection, high resolution imagery and a platform to manage the data should prove to be a approach that saves time of KCA staff while allowing for more accurate data collection. Most importantly though, we appreciate the opportunity this work provides in contributing to enabling a positive impact on people’s lives through more secure land and property rights.