The conference was held from 26 to 27 November 2012 in Nairobi, Kenya, and was hosted by the African Migration and Policy Development Centre, which forms part of DFID's Migrating out of Poverty consortium. Discussions included urbanisation data and trends, the role of urbanisation in poverty reduction, the impacts and drivers of youth migration to towns and cities, urban vulnerabilities and adaptation to climate change, urban governance and service provision, and land markets in urban areas.
Caroline Wanjiku-Kihato, Urban LandMark's Knowledge Promotion Theme Coordinator, was invited to present a paper at the Conference that she co-authored with Lauren Royston, who is the Tenure Security Theme Coordinator at Urban LandMark. The paper is entitled Rethinking Land Governance in Africa's Cities: The case of Maputo, Mozambique, and analyses the findings of a report called Operation of the Market study: Land Access in Urban Areas, which is based on a survey Urban LandMark undertook together with partners in Mozambique to understand how ordinary urban dwellers access, hold and transact land in two peri-urban sites in Maputo.
At the conference, Caroline highlighted that Africa's increasing levels of urbanisation have significant implications for urban land. Growing populations imply that there is increasing pressure for cities to provide economic opportunities, housing, infrastructure and social services to existing and incoming urban dwellers. These activities take place on urban land, and much of the new growth occurs outside of the state regulatory and legal frameworks.
Using survey data collected in Maputo's peri-urban areas, Caroline and Lauren's paper explores how ordinary urban dwellers access, hold, transact and manage land. The research findings suggest the existence of a land market that is technically outside of the legal system, but notwithstanding its illegality, that these land practices are organised, possessing sophisticated local land management and regulatory systems. The research notes that the low incidence of land conflicts in both neighbourhoods shows that these governance practices are relatively functional.
The research also shows that local practices are characterised by a complex web of social actors, including family members, neighbours, local leadership structures and state officials, all of whom lend the credibility and legitimacy that allow a local land market to exist.
Urban LandMark's findings from the Maputo survey challenged conventional understandings of formal and informal markets.
"The findings show that these socially embedded land markets not only allow us to understand how urban territory is carved up and managed; it also transforms the way we conceptualise formality and informality in African cities, allowing us to see how informal urban economies are co-produced by state and non-state regulatory systems.
These hybrid economies have implications for how we understand governance,
markets and the role of the state in our cities."
See more information on the conference, including abstracts and profiles of the conference presenters.