Imagine being born and raised in a place that you deem yours while someone else claims that the limits of that area are wrongly set. This is the conflict between the indigenous and the farmers in many areas around indigenous reserves in Colombia. For the first time, these people measured their land limits together. This has been made possible with the help of ITC researchers, the Dutch Kadaster and the Distrital University in Bogotá.
A year ago, UToday published an item about the work of ITC researcher Javier Morales involved in the project Land in Peace, where ITC researchers and the Dutch Kadaster helped the Colombian people in rural areas to receive land rights they are entitled to Since then a lot of work has been done to improve this project.
Morales and his team worked on a new pilot where they used the same principle to solve the conflicts between the indigenous and the farmers in Colombia. The idea is simple: pick a village to survey, train the teenagers in that village to use a tailor-made surveying app and other technology. The teenagers can then bring along the farmers and the indigenous separately to measure their properties. With this approach, the team can survey a whole village of around 100 properties in a week.
For this pilot in the village of Cumaribo, Morales was able to simplify the app. This way the Colombian entities can make better use of the data. The work had immediate results: for the first time in history, the farmers and indigenous got together and started to talk with each other about the overlapping borders.
“Our solution is both cheaper and easier than the old procedure”, says Morales, “you only compromise a bit in quality which is not a problem for this purpose.” Normally surveying is done with an accuracy of centimetres. In rural areas, the borders are often based on moving land properties like the edges of forests, rivers and rocks. This means the accuracy can be relaxed to metres.
The project is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and actively supported by the Dutch embassy in Bogotá.