Urban LandMark
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March 2013

Issue homepage Message from the Programme Director Urban LandMark and DFID London debate improved access to urban land and property rights Urban LandMark participates in China-Africa workshop on pro-poor urban development Urban LandMark participates in conference on urbanisation and rural-urban migration in sub-Saharan Africa Our research in practice: Isandla Institute workshops Urban LandMark's Guide on Managing Urban Land with four local municipalities Don't miss Urban LandMark's 2013 Conference: Moving from Knowledge to Change: Agreeing the Next Steps for Better Access to Urban Land Urban LandMark and the Association of African Planning Schools host a workshop to discuss knowledge production and research collaboration in the global South Update on our Tenure Security Facility Southern Africa project Handbook for First-Time Home Owners - in all 11 languages! Developing a booklet on the Land Governance Assessment Framework South Africa (LGAF)

Update on our Tenure Security Facility Southern Africa project
Urban LandMark's Tenure Security Facility Southern Africa project, supported by Cities Alliance and with co-funding from UKaid, is providing technical assistance and advisory services on incrementally securing tenure in slum upgrading. The work aims to contribute to improved access to land for poorer people, which in turn contributes to improved livelihoods, active citizenship and asset creation.

As part of this project, Urban LandMark has undertaken two studies on how the poor access, hold and trade land - one study in two settlements in Lilongwe, Malawi and the other in two settlements in Tete, Mozambique.

The studies aim to shed light on the ways in which informal land transactions occur and the extent to which they result in tenure security and asset creation in these informal settlements. Results from the Lilongwe study, which surveyed the informal settlements of Mtandire and Chinsapo, are now available.

This research forms part of a larger programme of work Urban LandMark has undertaken over the last number of years, and which includes similar studies on how the poor access, hold and trade land in Maputo (Mozambique), Luanda (Angola) and Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg (South Africa).

Some preliminary results from the survey in Lilongwe: people's perceptions about their rights

Although none of the respondents in either of the settlements surveyed have ever had a title deed, most respondents feel that because they have lived in these settlements for a while, their rights are stronger. The reason for this? They have built social networks in the area and have become part of the community. Respondents in Chinsapo who rent appear to feel less that their rights have become stronger than respondents in Mtandire. This could be due to the fact that people are being evicted in the area.

Main reasons why rights are stronger Main reasons why rights are weaker
Mtandire - own 66% - my neighbours can prove property is mine
47% - I have official letter from the chief
30% - I am part of the community
60% - disagreement with neighbours/family
20% - houses are being demolished
Mtandire - rent 68% - I have built a good relationship with my landlord
35% - my neighbours can prove the house is mine
18% - I am part of the community
33% - disagreement with neighbours/family
22% - waiting too long for development
Chinsapo - own 46% - my neighbours can prove property is mine
44% - I have official letter from the chief
23% - I am part of the community
33% - waiting too long for development
33% - the community leaders have changed
Chinsapo - rent 54% - I have built a good relationship with my landlord
21% - my neighbours can prove the house is mine
20% - I am part of the community
44% - disagreement with neighbours/family
33% - people are being evicted
22% - waiting too long for development

The survey also shows that a functioning informal market exists in the two informal settlements, which enables households to trade and hold land both on an ownership and rental basis. Key characteristics of this market are as follows:

  • Friends and relatives play an important role in identifying the place to live and in ensuring that contractual arrangements will be valid.

  • The Chief plays a key role in respect of the ownership market, but significantly less so in respect of the rental market, which is between a landlord and tenant. In respect of ownership, rights to a property are obtained for most respondents through an agreement witnessed by the Chief or a document given to them by the Chief.

With respect to households that own land, it appears that the market operates effectively and there appear to be very few disputes. If disputes should occur it is predominantly about boundaries of the property. The role of the Chief does appear to increase tenure security among households that own, but comes at a cost in that households are required to provide the Chief with a gift.

With respect to households that rent, there is some indication that the market does not operate that effectively and such households are vulnerable to landlords in terms of rentals and eviction.

Malawi Tenure Security Dialogue brings government and community stakeholders together

To further interpret the results from the Lilongwe survey, Urban LandMark's local country partner, the Centre for Community Organisation and Development (CCODE), organised a national dialogue between key stakeholders in the country on securing land tenure in slum upgrading.

A key concern of CCODE and its alliance partner, the Malawi Homeless People's Federation, is how to meaningfully increase the tenure security of slum dwellers in upgrading processes. To this end, the alliance tries to engage with a variety of stakeholders on the question of urban land tenure security in slum or informal settlement upgrading.

The findings of Urban LandMark's Operation of the Market study in Lilongwe were shared with participants from government and communities, social movements and NGOs, and compared with people's experiences of urban development on the ground. Dialogue participants provided additional insights into how urban land management works in practice, as the basis for dialogue about how upgrading can work with, and not against, the current arrangements. Participants further engaged on perspectives of tenure security to inform key national policy processes currently under way in Malawi that deal with urban policy and land reform policy.

For Urban LandMark, working in partnership with CCODE was an essential ingredient for the successful execution of the Operation of the Market study in a short space of time, as CCODE is actively engaged in these issues, which means the study could 'piggy-back' on their capacity and work.

The partnership between Urban LandMark and CCODE has also ensured the successful positioning of the study so that it is not just another piece of research.

Animated discussions at the dialogue meant that state stakeholders saw the value of engaging directly with communities. The event showed how the Operation of the Market study can be a vehicle for dialogue among stakeholders, as perspectives were given from all sides and participants advocated for their positions in the discussions that it generated.

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