The Land Rights Workshop

Back in April, I was taking a Mixed Methods course to prepare for my research in Tanzania. As the final paper for that class, I wrote about a plan to create a land rights workshop, and invite women to it using their mobile phones versus more traditional methods. At the time, the document was little more than a rough framework – many practical issues were not even addressed, let alone answered. In fact, I submitted under the assumption that it would never even come to fruition. However, thanks to the help of my professor and research coordinator, we actually managed to polish it into a workable plan of action.

The day came, and I was really nervous. I had arrived in Rufiji, a very rural district in Tanzania, the day before after an¬†extremely¬†uncomfortable bus ride. The hotel we had being staying in lost power, so my phone and computer were undercharged. All signs pointed to an inauspicious beginning to my project. Matters weren’t helped when the time for the workshop to begin arrived. Only a few women had shown up, far below expectations. At that moment I was convinced that the project would end in failure.

Thankfully, things turned out far better than I could have expected. As it turned out, the women were arriving from many miles away, and some didn’t show up more than an hour after the set time. When all was said and done, we actually had fifty more women than we had anticipated!

It was extraordinarily gratifying to see a paper that I had written at 2 am right before finals week actually come to life! I’m really happy that something I did, no matter how small, was able to affect these womens’ lives in a positive manner.


  1. tazevanove says:

    Hello Jonah! This seems like a very interesting project. I am doing research in Uganda this summer and recently met with a land rights advocacy group and district level land authority to discuss mapping challenges; I can really relate to this post!Here, maps can’t be used for M&E or to assist in programming needs because they reflect divergent land claims: that of the “official” Uganda Bureau of Statistics and that of the “reality” local people decide amongst themselves. Could your mobile phone platform be harnessed to mitigate these differences and create one usable map?