Global Urban Observatory
Land Information Service Project in
Municipal Council – Kenya
We are moving into an information age in keeping with the
global trends. While this obvious mega-trend has many facets, the opportunities
and requirements for land information systems are particularly significant in
this era. Land information is important now because of a complex set of issues
involving both the private land ownership rights and responsibilities and the
rights and responsibilities of the society as a whole to manage and maintain a
quality environment for all its citizens. The onus for ensuring up to date,
clear and authentic land information falls on the municipal councils.
The Nyahururu Municipal Council, like most local authorities in Kenya, has a
manual land information system. Consequently, all information produced and
generated in undertaking the various municipal functions is in the alphanumeric
form, plans and maps. The Manual Operating System currently in use has
increasingly become inefficient due to the rapid population increase and
expanded boundaries, which have increased the area of jurisdiction of the
Council, resulting in expanded user requirements. The system is cumbersome and
fraught with delays in searches, resulting in a number of problems ranging from
difficulties in accessing data, slow retrieval and replacement time. Paper
records frequently disappear, are misplaced or interfered with. Moreover, the
poor provision of access of retrieval facilities has led to inadequate updating,
cross-referencing and generally poor record maintenance. At times, important
land information records have lacked backup copies. Finally, the increasing
number of properties has translated into the need for more storage space.
To address the above problems, with the aim of providing land information to the
users more efficiently and effectively, computerization of the land information
service has been deemed as one of the solutions. A computerized land information
system that lays the groundwork from which future land use decisions can be
addressed based on proper background information. A system that does not
infringe on, or take away existing property rights or other such freedoms but in
general improves land management.
Almost all countries in the world began with a manual system of recording land
information. However, a minority of geologists and other geoscientists have been
using computers for the manipulation of spatial data since 1960’s. From the
1970’s most countries began to initiate some form of computerized land
information automation and mapping systems. This was pertinent due to firstly,
the many problems and constraints that emerged as a result of increasingly
complex land ownership, tenure and registration issues. Moreover, the
authorities empowered to collect rates were not effectively doing so. In the
1980’s, advances made in computer hardware catalyzed the development of
software for handling spatial data.
Several important facts associated with the increasingly popular computerization
of the land information services include:
- Necessity of modern computerized land records information services so that
those involved in the generation and manipulation of the records can, in a
timely manner, correctly answer fundamental questions about public and
private rights and responsibilities to land.
- Knowledge of the spatial reliability of all data sets at all times so that
land ownership rights and responsibilities are not incorrectly determined
because of imprecise information. This for instance, results in the quick
access and efficient monitoring of rates management, particularly rates
- Ability to concurrently carry out several requests relating to a property
in a multi user institutional setting such as a municipal council. This is
different in a manual system where use of land records by a person excludes
the rest in accessing the same records.
- Development of the software is designed according to the spatial handling
needs of the council and the personnel. This ensures the development of standardized
data collection, storage, updating and retrieval activities.
Aims and Objectives
The principle objective of computerizing land information systems in
Nyahururu Municipal Council is to improve capacity to serve the users with
quick, reliable, up to date, consistent and user friendly computerized land
The above would be realized by updating the manual records to address any
inconsistencies, gaps and lack of information. The records would be structured
in a format ready for computerization.
The aims of Computerizing Land Information Systems in Nyahururu are:
- To improve operators' functions of the municipal council and any other
users of land information emanating thereof. This is tenable due to improved
access for updating and retrieval.
- To create a computerized database of the land information in Nyahururu,
which can be used in application of other computer packages e.g. GIS in
- To have readily available up to date and authentic land information for
decision making both at the council level and at other higher levels. A
necessity for achieving optimum land use based on planning and therefore
The computerization process will entail provision of
computers, printers and scanners as well as the training of staff. Prior to the
actual project implementation exercise, a sensitization workshop was organized
where all potential users were involved.
The Nyahururu officers will be trained on how to computerize the information.
This will ensure that the project becomes sustainable as the council owns it. At
the initial stages, the project's broad aim is to computerize the current active
records in order to create a computerized database. The database becomes the
depository of all the information required for the council functions in land
matters. In the future, the information in the database can further be
manipulated or be used by introducing GIS. This project will run parallel with
the manual system and eventually the manual system will be considered as a
This web page is
maintained by UNHABITAT, Global Urban Observatory Section, and was last updated
by Philip Mukungu on 28 June 2002. Please forward comments, corrections or requests
for more information to: (Philip.Mukungu@unhabitat.org)