Overcoming Data Collection Barriers to Accelerate Impact: Reflections on Cadasta’s New Grant Program

Cadasta’s goal and vision is to build a world where even the most marginalized individuals and communities can benefit from the opportunities afforded by secure land and resource rights. To do so, we develop and promote the use of simple digital tools and technology to help partners document and store their land and resource rights data. 

However, the tools and time required to document land and resource rights can be cost prohibitive for some of our partners. That is why we developed the Data Accelerator Grant. Our hope is that partners can leverage our grants to overcome data collection cost and equipment barriers to expand the impact of their land and resource rights documentation. 

With our partners’ needs and concerns in mind, we created an application form that is short and easy-to-complete. We prioritized grant activities supporting the purchase of equipment and paying for staffing costs associated with surveying and set evaluation criteria that is simple and fairly straightforward.

To more effectively support our partners in overcoming data collection challenges, we require that eligible applicants have a signed Partnership Agreement or MOU to be considered. In doing so, we aim to support the organizations we work with to successfully complete their projects.  We also wanted to issue grants as easily as possible. Having a signed partnership agreement or MOU makes the grant process easier for the partner and for Cadasta.

Launching this grant was a team effort by many people in the organization—including the entire Cadasta communications, technical, and program teams—but the special recognition goes to Anna Freestone who supported the early grant program design as a summer intern and to Siphie Komwa who supports grant administration as a Program Coordinator.

We also met with partner organizations that have launched small grant programs before and learned from their experiences. Colleagues at Namati, Habitat for Humanity International, and Cities Alliance all supported our grant program design process and I am grateful for their time and advice. 

In just 30 days since announcing the Data Accelerator Grant opportunity, more than fifty organizations have expressed interest in the grant or in signing a Partnership Agreement to then access the grant. I consider this a tremendous response—one that the Cadasta team is responding to as quickly as we are able to—but the success of this grant program is not tied to mere interest. 

Our success will be measured by the number of grantees (and percentage of Cadasta partners who become grantees) utilizing new equipment and expanded staffing capabilities to more quickly complete the data collection phase of their projects. After successfully completing the grant, we envision partners continuing to use the equipment for expanded data collection and/or advanced community engagement and advocacy activities using the community maps and visualizations generated by project data.