Urban LandMark is moving into a different mode of work in the tenure area - having undertaken research, developed an approach, set up relationships with national stakeholders and now, into application mode - testing of and support for the use of the approach in selected South African cities and towns.
Several years ago Urban LandMark published the findings of our research into how the poor access, hold and trade land in three metropolitan areas of South Africa - Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Principal findings included that 'socially dominated' land markets exist in the parts of these cities where poorer people live; that they are mediated by community organisation, social relations and the state; and that although they function in the short term to provide access to land, constraints exist as to how well they function in the medium and longer terms for the poor.
One of the primary implications of this work for the programme was the need to promote official recognition of these markets to improve how they function for the poor, and Urban LandMark identified increasing tenure security as the first step toward official recognition. As a result, we undertook to develop an approach for incrementally securing tenure in informal settlements in South Africa.
This work has continued with dissemination, application and work with the National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP, an initiative of the national Department of Human Settlements and Cities Alliance) to assist municipalities with incrementally securing tenure in upgrading projects.
We have learnt that the approach needs more widespread dissemination before demand can be expressed to use it. Matters are further complicated because the approach is 'business unusual' and requires some awareness-raising. Political acceptability of incremental upgrading, availability of legal declaration mechanisms, capacity in municipalities for administrative recognition and context-specific motivators for making markets work better are all factors that require investigation if need and applicability are to be properly assessed.
Urban LandMark has therefore moved into a different mode of work in the tenure area - having previously undertaken research, developed an approach to the realisation of incremental tenure security and set up relationships with national stakeholders. The overall purpose of this phase is to support an application testing component of the tenure approach work, with an emphasis on tenure investigation and administrative/legal recognition aspects. What this implies is that municipalities need to consider first how they give recognition to the rights of communities to the land on which they are living, ahead of following through with service provision and the full legal process of land sub-division and housing provision. We are also looking at some rural and customary tenure expertise for small-town engagement.
Fact sheets detailing our findings and lessons learnt from this application testing process will be available in July 2011.