Incrementally securing tenure: promising practices in informal settlement upgrading in southern Africa

Incrementally securing tenure: promising practices in informal settlement upgrading in southern Africa

Known as the “urbanisation of poverty”, about 62% of people today in towns and cities in sub-Saharan Africa live in informal settlements. The current paper reveals that land management in these conditions is under extreme pressure, and efforts to secure tenure among the urban poor are dominated by the paradigm of individual title implemented through large-scale titling schemes.

The document reflects on promising practices that have emerged through the work of the TSFSA (Tenure Security Facility Southern Africa) project, which signal new approaches to securing tenure in informal settlements.

Finding includes:

  • practical mechanisms to improve tenure can be identified and applied in slum or informal settlement upgrading programmes and projects
  • factors that will shape the prospects of incremental tenure security include policy frameworks, the state’s capacity to innovate, and the strength of civil society organisations that can support concerning communities

Accordingly, official practitioners in municipalities and local political representatives need to support innovation and actively engage with and adapt local practice. The work should:

  • build from existing local land management practice
  • promote the roles of NGOs in supporting organisations of the poor to resist evictions
  • promote the roles of NGOs in building alliances with municipalities to find context-specific means for administrative and legal innovation to secure tenure through different forms of official recognition

All things considered, the paper states that more work is required to implement strategies for official recognition and to build up a significant body of alternative practice that could form the basis of widespread advocacy.

 

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