Urban LandMark

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A Handbook on Urban Land Markets for Africa

Managing urban land: a guide for municipal practitioners

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In the news


The Seven Myths of Slums
According to Adam Parsons, editor at Share The World's Resources, conventional thinking on development issues is often characterised by many assumptions, clichés and rationalisations about the residents of slums. In challenging some of these core myths, we can focus on the structural causes of urban poverty that result in the rapid growth of informal settlements.

Free housing cannot continue forever - Sexwale
Free housing in South Africa cannot go on indefinitely, said Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale on Monday. The country has a housing backlog of 2,3-million units that the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) is aiming to address through a number of initiatives by 2030. "However, we do not want to create a beggars culture where people just expect to be given free houses from the State. This is just a safety net for the poorest of the poor, but cannot go on forever," said Sexwale at a media breakfast in Johannesburg.

Africa warned of 'slum' cities danger as its population passes one billion
Africa has joined India and China as the third region of the world to reach a population of 1 billion people, and it is expected to double its numbers by 2050, the UN says. By then, there will be three times as many people living in Africa's cities, and the continent that had fewer than 500,000 urban dwellers in 1950 may have 1.3 billion.

Affordable housing: Raising the roof
To cater for soaring demand, government and the private sector will need to build 600000 new affordable housing units. Though it provides accommodation to the majority of South Africans, affordable housing is still the least understood and most underserviced sector in the property market.

Easy access to up-to-date information on gender and land rights
Disparity on land access is one of the major causes for social and gender inequalities in rural areas, and it jeopardizes, as a consequence, rural food security as well as the wellbeing of individuals and families. The Gender and Land Rights database, hosted by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, contains country-level information on social, economic, political and cultural issues related to the gender inequalities embedded in those rights.

Making up lost ground in SA's informal settlements
In an article published in Business Day on 15 November, Kate Tissington of the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA and Lauren Royston of Urban Landmark argue that the creation of equitable towns and cities that provide dignity and quality of life for all inhabitants is not a pipe dream, but that it requires the collective buy-in and energy of local government officials, communities, social movements, planners, engineers and nongovernmental organisations.

Commonwealth Games displaced 250 000
The Housing and Land Rights Network has claimed that around 250 000 people lost their homes due to evictions and demolitions conducted for security measures relating to the 2010 Commonwealth Games.

New SA/EU programme aims to improve access to justice institutions for vulnerable and marginalised groups
A programme designed to assist South Africa's vulnerable was launched on 1 November with the financial support of the European Union. Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development Jeff Radebe said the "Strengthening of Civil Society" programme aimed to improve access to justice institutions for vulnerable and marginalised groups and to enhance participatory democracy.

Rethinking African cities
In an article published in the Mail&Guardian on 29 October, Caroline Kihato and Mark Napier of Urban LandMark argue that Africa needs cities that provide ordinary people with choices that enable them to participate fully in urban life.

Plan to fast-track transfer of title deeds in Cape Town
The City of Cape Town plans to speed up the transfer of residential erven to thousands of beneficiaries in townships across the Cape Metropole.

Urban poor uniting across borders
Members of a Thai 'slum network' are feeling empowered and expressing solidarity with their counterparts in Cambodia, the Philippines and beyond.

Zimbabwean government urged to stop mass evictions
The European Parliament has urged the Zimbabwean government not to evict about 20,000 illegal settlers from an informal settlement on the outskirts of Harare for failure to pay prohibitively high lease renewal fees charged by the authorities.

'There is no human who can sleep in this'
Evicted shack dwellers from the Gabon informal settlement on the East Rand have refused to occupy the 72 corrugated iron shacks built for them by the Ekurhuleni Municipality. This after they were evicted and their shacks demolished on May 11.

Urban project in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, targets poor areas
The lives of more than 35 000 families living in the 100 poorest neighbourhoods in Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon) have improved thanks to a World Bank-funded urban upgrade project.

Poor need city housing
Housing experts and civil society groups attending a high-profile conference held in Cape Town this week have slammed the government over the lack of low-cost housing in city centres.

The worst is over, but commercial property sector remains cautious
Dennis Ndaba of Engineering News reports that South Africa's commercial property market is still feeling the impact of the global and domestic economic downturn. The immediate focus is on mopping up the high vacancy rates caused by high levels of development activity in 2006/7, when the prospect of a recession appeared remote.

Beggars removed from Delhi streets ahead of Commonwealth Games
Police in Delhi have removed thousands of beggars and homeless urban poor from the city ahead of the Commonwealth Games that began on Monday 4 October, in what critics say is an effort to hide India's poverty from foreign visitors.

Habitat Day blighted by plight of 1 billion in world's slums
The United Nations marked World Habitat Day, which is observed each year on the first Monday of October, with ceremonies praising the work of the world body and its partners, but the celebration was blighted by campaigners' calls to ease the plight of a billion people who live in slums.

Zimbabwe: Up to 20 000 at risk of forced eviction
The Zimbabwean authorities must halt the pending evictions of up to 20,000 people from an informal settlement on the outskirts of Harare for failure to pay prohibitively high lease renewal fees charged by the authorities, Amnesty International said on 4 October.

Red Cross: Billions of poor urban dwellers face disaster risk
Over 2 billion urban dwellers in developing nations face a high risk from natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, according to a report released by the Red Cross on 21 September. In its 2010 World Disasters report, launched in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said that in any given year over 50,000 people can die as a result of earthquakes and 100 million can be affected by floods - a point illustrated by the devastating flooding in Pakistan.

'Double standards' in Hout Bay
Police armed with shields and rifles fired rubber bullets in order to quell a protest over the dismantling of illegal structures built on the slopes of the Hout Bay Sentinel. The City of Cape Town regards the dwellings as dangerous because they are built on a firebreak, but residents have vowed to fight any evictions.

Leading democracy commentator uses Urban LandMark position on RDP house eviction to argue that the poor should be allowed to make their own choices
Business Day recently published an article in which Urban LandMark and other organisations commented on steps by the human settlements department in North West to deregister the owner of an RDP house who has been renting it out (see link below). In an article published in Business Day on 31 August, Prof Steven Friedman, Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy, uses this case to argue that politicians have no business telling the poor what their choices should be, and that the press should report on issues of this nature in ways which reflect the reality of the poor.

Let's see the real value in RDP houses
Why would a subsidy beneficiary choose to rent out their house for R700 a month? This article by Kate Tissington, Kecia Rust, Robert McGaffin, Mark Napier and Sarah Charlton argues that we need to understand the choices people are making in difficult economic circumstances, with a view to supporting successful endeavours, rather than punishing people who are leveraging their RDP houses in rational and understandable ways.

Urban Landmark Regionalisation Theme Coordinator keynote speaker at UN Habitat Week at Shanghai World Expo 2010
Caroline Wanjiku Kihatu, Urban LandMark's Regionalisation Programme Coordinator, has been invited to participate, as one of the Shanghai Week Speakers, on the Forum on Opportunity on Sunday 10 October, where she will debate how we ensure that cities' resources are shared equitably to minimise conflict and inequality.

Government to focus on inner-city housing
Government's past focus on building settlements outside economic hubs was to the detriment of the poor who lived there, Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale said recently. At the official launch of the Tau Village in Pretoria's busy Struben Street, Sexwale said inner-city housing was a reality.

India cannot be made slum-free in five years
India's fast urbanisation is spawning greater numbers of slums, forcing millions of people to live in squalor. And a year after the government made the grand claim to make the country slum-free, officials say the five-year time-frame is unrealistic.

The urban housing conundrum
With the government failing to provide cheaper homes and private options out of reach, India's urban poor have little choice. Mint newspaper's Rahul Chandran reports on Kathputli Colony in Delhi, which has become the testing ground for a new strategy to house the poor.

Metro police burn down shacks outside luxury estate
Police earlier this week set fire to some 50 shacks in Cemetery Estate, a community of migrant workers and illegal immigrants located close to a number of luxury estates in Pretoria East. Commenting on the evictions, Mark Napier of Urban Landmark said the city had to find alternative accommodation for evicted people.

Joburg council ordered to rebuild homes in Kliptown
The Johannesburg High Court has ordered the City of Joburg and its metro police department to rebuild the Kliptown homes they destroyed while carrying out an eviction notice in June.

The art of public housing
Sanjeev Sanyal, president of the Sustainable Planet Institute, argues that, while India should pay heed to de Soto, it should not ignore the Singaporean model.

Johannesburg draws poor, struggles to house them
An article by Donna Bryson of Associated Press investigates the plight of poor tenants in inner-city Johannesburg.

Kicked out for the Cup?
Allegations of forced evictions for the World Cup have been sprouting up all over South Africa. Christopher Werth of Newsweek investigates.

New urban reform project to offer hope to slum families in Kenya
The government of Kenya has launched a countrywide municipal reform programme aimed at uplifting the living standards of the urban poor. Dubbed the Kenya Municipal Programme, the objective of the programme is to overhaul crucial services such as health, sanitation, and transport. It will also seek to move the function of regional and urban development planning from the Ministry of Local Government to individual municipalities.

Government proposes guarantee fund for those who cannot secure home loans
Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale has indicated that low and middle-income earners may be able to buy their own homes if a partnership between government and the banking sector is formed.

More than 50,000 people at risk of imminent forced eviction in Kenya
Amnesty International has called on the Kenyan government to halt the proposed eviction of more than 50 000 people living alongside the country's railway lines until guidelines that conform with international human rights standards have been adopted.

Black market highlights RDP cracks
According to research conducted by think-tank Urban Landmark, over the last five years 11% of all RDP properties were unofficially traded by owners who were barred from selling their houses due to a mandatory lock-in period.

UN says 227m escape life in slums
According to the United Nations, nearly a quarter of a billion people escaped life in the slums over the past decade. The improvement was thanks largely to housing efforts in China and India.

International real estate federation to provide affordable shelter for the poor in Nigeria
International real estate federation to provide affordable shelter for the urban poor in Nigeria.

India: Housing scheme guidelines to be rejigged to make cities slum free
Indian housing ministry fine-tuning flagship programme to make Indian cities slum-free.

Land reform slow
Willing buyer, willing seller policy introduced by Namibian Government fails to yield desired outputs.

Property rights at last for women
Court ruling finally gives Swazi women the right to own and administer property in their own names.

New initiative to support the development of State of the Cities Reports in Africa [Cities Alliance, PDF]
An initiative co-funded by the Cities Alliance seeks to develop 30 State of the Cities Reports, at least one per country, for sub-Saharan Africa. The initiative aims to use this process as a basis for building urban knowledge and organisational capacity among African urban policy makers, planners and practitioners.

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