Cadasta at Work: Urban Informal Settlements

The rate of urbanization and the number of people living in urban and peri-urban settings has increased exponentially in the past century. Although urbanization is associated with higher incomes and development, it also produces extreme urban poverty. Almost half of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements (also known as slums or shanty towns) where they are socially and politically excluded and lack access to basic public services and amenities.

Around the world, city officials and local and international organizations are looking to gain a better understanding of how many people are living in informal settlements and are in need of public services. Cadasta’s tools make it easier than ever to efficiently document, analyze, manage, and share critical land and resource rights information.

By creating an accessible digital record of land, housing, and resource rights, we empower residents of informal settlements, as well as the organizations and governments that service them, with the information they need to make data-driven decisions and put vulnerable urban communities and their needs on the map.


With Cadasta’s Technology, Tools, and Services
City Officials and Municipal Governments can overcome the constraints and challenges imposed by traditional land administration systems to more efficiently document, analyze, and manage urban property data.

Communities and Organizations can use Cadasta’s tools to document their land claims and advocate for improved access to public services such as water, electricity, sewage, roads, and parks.

Residents can use the data documented and managed on Cadasta’s platform to advocate for and defend their land rights.

Cadasta in the Field

In Lagos, Nigeria, Cadasta partnered with the nonprofit organization Justice and Empowerment Initiatives (JEI) and the Nigerian Slum/Informal Settlement Federation to document land and property rights information of the communities living in Lagos’ informal settlements. Volunteers and paralegals from the Nigerian Federation used Cadasta’s tools on handheld GPS units and tablets to collect and manage a robust set of data from more than 30 communities across Lagos’ informal settlements. The data was then used to create community maps and tenure security reports that helped JEI identify citywide trends and advocate for formal recognition of the communities.

In the Indian state of Odisha, government officials made international history and headlines with the Odisha Liveable Habitat Mission which utilizes Cadasta’s tools to identify, map, and issue formal land certificates to residents of urban informal settlements. Using drone imagery, community data collectors, and Cadasta’s technology, this ambitious program demonstrated the potential of bottom-up data collection and resulted in the issuance of 60,000 official certificates of occupancy. By 2020, an estimated 1 million people will have been documented by the program, enabling these residents to invest in their properties and businesses without fear of eviction.

In Port Harcourt, Nigeria an estimated 480,000 people living in informal settlements face the threat of eviction and demolition by local authorities. The Human City Project, led by the local nonprofit Collaborative Media Advocacy Platform (CMAP), works to support and develop the “strategic and technical capacity of slum communities to participate in the shaping of their city.” Cadasta is partnering with CMAP to train young local mappers to use Cadasta’s tools to improve their data collection, management, and reporting processes. Through our collaboration, CMAP will be better able to support residents’ efforts to defend their rights and use household survey and mapping data to advocate with local and state officials for their urban planning needs.

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