Design of a communal land tenure information system for Namibia

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

This thesis describes some of the communal land tenure systems pertaining to Namibia. Understandably, lands held under communal land tenure have tended to be neither fully documented nor legally and explicitly formalised; communal land tenure systems have been through the mercy of arbitrary action by the state, private individuals or other institutions (S.A Government, 1996: 43). The study attempts to examine the issues involved in the design of a communal land tenure information system for Namibia. It therefore seeks to examine the possibility of using information technology to plan and manage customarily held land, the requirement for an effective design and implementation of such a system and the method of designing such an information system to make room for continual improvement and the addition of finer detail. The research begins with an in-depth literature review of the communal land tenure systems in Namibia and a description of similar information systems. This is followed by the research methodology, which describes the technique used for collecting, analysing and presenting the results of the study. The needs analysis and the data structure contained in the atlas are outlined. The fundamental concepts of database design and the various steps taken by the author to design and construct the land tenure database model for the dissertation are also discussed. The pilot project is analysed, taking into account the capability of the system, its success in terms of a needs analysis, and the adequacy of the data. It specifically analyses the design in the light of social relationships, person or group interests and the spatial component of communal land tenure systems with respect to each area. In addition, it seeks to answer the question whether the tool fits the communal land tenure system, discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the overall system design and the implementation strategies. It is envisaged that, with the provision of the information system in union with its database, this will help to identify and document a communal land tenure system. For the rural dweller or farmer, this system will provide a pictorial image of what is really happening on the ground. The information system could later be upgraded and fully implemented, enabling individuals to effectively plan activities around the existing circumstances and conditions. The recommendation that came out from the study was that given the limited information available on communal land tenure systems, more effort should be spent to study and gather data on the system. It is strongly recommended, therefore, that research into conditions in the communal areas be regarded as a top pri01ity by the Government of Namibia. This could lead to a richer information base in the communal areas to be utilised to improve the lifestyle of the rural communities. Thus, the prototype project designed in this thesis should be implemented fully and later developed and incorporated into an information system which, in the past, has lacked communal land tenure input. The research could not touch on all the communal land tenure areas in Namibia. It is therefore advised that the rest should be investigated in more detail. The inheritance and conflict resolution mechanism which were not modelled effectively should also be reinvestigated.

Bibliography: pages 77-83.