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However, they may, with good reason, hesitate to use a formally titled home as collateral for a commercial loan. Should they default on the loan residents risk losing their home and any home-based business they have as well as any rental income they generate from leasing rooms or backyard shacks.

Constrained property markets mean they are unlikely to find cost-effective alternatives Mitchell , Payne, Durand-Lasserve and Rakodi Individual titling can also harm women if male heads of households are titled but spouses are not. For many of the urban poor, improving the legal and regulatory framework to support well-functioning rental markets may be even more useful than large-scale titling programs.

Informal Settlements and the MDGs

Given the complexity of urban land tenure and property rights and the limited capability or willingness of government at national and local levels to meet the increasing challenge, no single form of tenure can meet the diverse and changing needs of large urban populations. It is therefore important to consider a range of pragmatic approaches to improving tenure security and access to public services. Examples of simple approaches to improve tenure security along a continuum of rights can be found throughout the developing world.

The following examples are affordable, accessible and, most importantly, appropriate for the context in which they have been applied.

Holding their ground : secure land tenure for the urban poor in developing countries

The examples fall into three basic categories: recognition by authorities; protection from eviction or exclusion; and community-based rights. Community-based rights provide an opportunity to cooperate and gain power through numbers. These approaches demonstrate the wide range of tools that promote recognizing the need to regularize or formalize tenure status in ways that enjoy social legitimacy Payne and improve the provision of public services, access and public open space. These approaches work because they provide technical, affordable, contextually appropriate solutions for a range of tenure rights in cities.

Furthermore, these rights can be recorded, forming the basis of data and information needed to improve, plan, manage, and finance cities and municipal services and infrastructure. Experience demonstrates that each tenure option has benefits and limitations. Identifying which approach is most appropriate will depend upon local conditions. Success will also depend upon the underlying property right—either state or private ownership of land which is occupied.

A key consideration when designing urban projects is the impact it will have on perceived tenure security. While few people will invest unless they feel secure, this does not necessarily mean that they require full, individual ownership of land or property. The limitations of land titling programs have been widely noted Calderon Cockburn ; Gilbert , and so use of this approach should be tempered by recognition of these limitations Cousins et al Experience shows that the pragmatic approaches to tenure security listed in the previous section can achieve many of the same objectives as individualized titling and at lower cost.

For example, residents in Trinidad and Tobago report that the Certificate of Comfort provides sufficient tenure security as no evictions take place. A socially and financially effective means of providing an adequate, or locally acceptable, form of land tenure is to improve the rights associated with existing forms of tenure.

These simple measures can significantly enhance tenure security, facilitate service delivery and stimulate investment in home improvements. As a tool, the STDM enables all local stakeholders in a property or piece of land not necessarily the owners to document that space.

Rather than considering the land as a mutually-exclusive parcel, the stakeholders document it in ways that reflect and express all of the tenure arrangements and relationships to it, including secondary rights. Unlike formal land administration systems and software, STDM is open, free, transparent, flexible, mobile and scalable based on the technological capacities of the context in which it is being used.


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STDM provides an opportunity for social inclusion. The process of establishing these policies and laws should be participatory, gender sensitive and strive to make provision for technical and legal support to affected communities and individuals. Indirect measures may increase tenure security and investment in home improvements significantly and avoid the expense and political sensitivities associated with some formal titling programs.

In Karachi, Pakistan a local NGO organized residents to install a sewer system for up to one million residents, reducing demand for formal titles. In Mumbai, India improved services and ten-year leases stimulated substantial investment in home improvements. The Constitution of Colombia entitles all citizens access to all public services on the sole condition that they can pay for them; tenure status is not relevant.

As a result of these approaches, residents consider themselves sufficiently secure to invest what they can in improving their homes and pay for the services they receive. It should not be assumed that those living in informal urban settlements are passive victims of an oppressive urban environment.

Holding Their Ground Secure Land Tenure for the Urban Poor in Developing Countries

Participatory methods of recording land rights through community enumeration UN- Habitat and street addressing programs surveying and mapping to create addresses as promoted by the World Bank, are effective means of improving security and creating a sense of belonging and citizenship Menon, In most of these examples, residents are free to exchange their property through the market, or work from home, enabling them to use land and property as a means of economic betterment.

They also put available land to efficient use, which reduces urban sprawl, transport costs and emissions, and impacts on scarce agricultural land. More progress is needed to implement and enforce policies that enhance tenure security of the urban poor so that they are better able to share in benefits of development and economic growth. The innovative local approaches described in this brief have not been replicated at the scale and speed necessary to make a significant impact. Despite the fact that these approaches have achieved strong positive outcomes, they tend to be rejected by many government officials.

Improved service delivery depends on increasing the capacity of national governments and municipalities as well as on shifting the legal and regulatory environment. The following recommendations are consistent with these principles. To achieve significant progress in improving tenure security and access to services for all urban citizens, it is important to develop positive relationships with a wide range of stakeholders in the private and civil society sectors.

This will help to foster economic growth and land tenure and property rights resilience. As USAID increases its investment in urban projects, host-country mission officers and program staff should be mindful of the following points:. Skip to content. A Rapidly Urbanizing Planet Urban areas are a vital component of social and economic progress.

Land Tenure and Property Rights in Urban Environments The problems associated with urbanization are increasingly seen as failures in governance, including land administration and urban planning, rather than the size of the city per se.

Successful Local Approaches to Strengthening Urban Land Tenure and Property Rights The rapid and often uncontrolled growth of urban areas in developing economies has focused attention on the need to improve legal access to land and services for the existing and future urban populations. All residents in the unobjectionable settlements have this basic form of tenure, which is sometimes accompanied by the provision of public services, such as access roads, electricity, water supply and sanitation.

Physical upgrading of informal settlements Colombia, Indonesia, Pakistan : In select locations, informal urban settlements have been provided public open space, water, sanitation and power networks. These services create a high level of perceived tenure security without a formal change of legal status and have encouraged local improvements and investment. Hekr tenure Egypt : Under Hekr tenure, a modest ground rent is charged to informal settlers on unclaimed government land. It does not grant title, and cannot be transferred, but ensures that if households have to be displaced, they will receive compensation for buildings erected on their plots.

Temporary Occupation License ToL Kenya : TOLs were introduced in Nairobi to stimulate investment in small businesses as well as promote the efficient use of idle public land in strategic locations. Licenses are allocated annually on a renewable basis for a land rental fee and entitle licensees to construct semi- permanent structures. The owners of the land benefit by earning income from renters until they decide to develop the site. Local authorities provide services according to the rental period.

World Bank Research Observer, 20 2 , — Thirty years of World Bank shelter lending: What have we learned? Directions in development—infrastructure series.

Holding Their Ground: Secure Land Tenure for the Urban Poor in Developing Countries

Byabato, K. Legal title to land and access to formal finance by the low-income households: The case of Sinza C and Miburani neighbourhoods in Dar es Salaam. PhD dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam. Christiensen, S. Innovative land surveying and land registration in Namibia. Working Paper Cousins, B. Questioning the mythologies of Hernando de Soto. Cross, C. Why the urban poor cannot secure tenure: South African tenure policy under pressure. Royston Eds. London: Earthscan.

Daley, E. Land: Changing contexts, changing relationships, changing rights. Paper commissioned by U. Department for International Development, London. The mystery of capital: Why capitalism triumphs in the West and fails everywhere else. London: Black Swan Books.

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Deininger, K. Land policies for growth and poverty reduction. World Bank Policy Research Report. Deutsch, R.