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Home » June 2010

Incrementally securing tenure: An approach for informal settlement upgrading in South Africa

Lauren Royston reports on the recent conference and launch of Urban Landmark's booklet on incrementally securing tenure

On Wednesday 14th April we held a conference on security of land tenure and informal settlement upgrading at the Johannesburg civic theatre. Our co-hosts were the National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP), which is an initiative of the National Department of Human Settlements and Cities Alliance.


Left to right: Pictured at the launch of the incremental tenure booklet were Lauren Royston and Mark Napier from Urban Landmark; NUSP Chief Director of Implementation Johan Wallis; and Duma Nkosi, former executive mayor of Ekurhulenid

NUSP rendered invaluable assistance with logistics and perhaps more importantly, with positioning us. We were able to tap directly into their community of practice - an assembly of approximately 45 municipalities in the country with whom they are engaging on informal settlement upgrading. We are very excited about our relationship with NUSP and the role we have agreed for Urban Landmark - to be the first place of referral on tenure matters in informal settlement upgrading.

We were glad to have the National Department of Human Settlements present, offering high-level support; Chief Director of Implementation Johan Wallis shared the platform with me in opening proceedings and welcoming everyone. We were delighted to be oversubscribed at the conference. An anticipated turnout of 35 to 40 turned into participants in excess of 50!

The conference presentations are up on the web site. While the approach will not work for everyone, we had several approaches for advice - important indications for the demand-driven approach we plan to use in the tenure area in the year ahead.

After the conference we held our official launch. Our approach to incrementally securing tenure is now in the public domain. It was a warm and collegiate affair with the former executive mayor of Ekurhuleni, Duma Nkosi, giving a keynote address. He gently admonished us all by stressing that there will never be enough resources for our needs, and that we have to use what we have wisely. Wide words indeed! Steve Topham, team leader of NUSP, offered very generous words of support for Urban Landmark and our work, commending us on our proactive stance, and describing us as the most committed and effective partners of NUSP.