Securing Land and Property Rights for All

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STDM Photo © UN-Habitat/John Gitau

The Social Tenure Domain Model (STDM) is a pro-poor, gender responsive and participatory land information system developed by the Global Land Tool Network (GLTN).

After many years of grappling with land registration initiatives at great costs to citizens, most developing countries are still unable to bridge the gap between formally registered land ownership units and those that are not registered or unaccounted for. The limited success in achieving increased cadastral coverage shows that, about 70 per cent of land ownership units in developing countries are not formally registered. This situation adversely affects individuals, families and communities who are on this unregistered land and, in most cases, these are poor and disadvantaged communities whose aspirations to improve their living conditions or movement on the property ladder are not addressed. The tenure insecurity experienced by communities in informal settlements and owners of unregistered properties is illustrated by forced evictions, land grabbing by elites or farming investors, inadequate compensation when it is considered, and a lack of poor urban service delivery, etc.

STDM has been developed to bridge the gap between formally registered land and land that is not registered. It is a pro-poor, participatory and affordable land tool for representing a person-to-land relationship along the land rights continuum. The land tool has been developed by UN-Habitat through GLTN and other partners in recognition of the need for legal pluralism and a broader recognition of person-to-land relationships.

STDM implementation is embedded in other GLTN land tools as a vehicle for UN-Habitat's Global Campaign for Secure Tenure. This campaign advocates for change and assisting Member States to introduce innovations which strengthen tenure security for the majority of people, especially the poor. It operationalizes the continuum of land rights concept, enlists inclusive approaches advocated in participatory enumeration, and highlights the gender status of land relations. STDM adheres to GLTN’s core values and principles, and this is strengthened by: its affordability (it uses free and open software packages); its flexibility in its use and application (it can be applied in various contexts, complements other tools and is a specialization of the ISO-approved Land Administration Domain Model - LADM); it is simple to use (non-technical people can use it); it is inclusive and has a pro-poor focus (it can be used by communities such as slum dwellers, small landholders, and is adaptable to formal situations, etc.); and it follows good governance principles (participation, gender-segregated data, responsiveness and transparency).

Visit the STDM website for more information

Additional Reading 

Partner Publications Relating to Country Implementation of STDM

Contact Info:

Location: Gigiri, UN Complex
Office: NOF South Wing Block 3
Telephone: +254 207623858
Email: gltn[at]

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