Tag Archives: Improving tenure security

Geoff’s visit in January 2018 to Amaravati, the new capital city of Andra Pradesh, India

Geoff was commissioned by the World Bank to review the plans and land policy instruments being applied for the development of the new state capital after the bifurcation of the state in 2014. Land for the new capital is being acquired by three policy instruments, namely land pooling, negotiated settlements and formal land acquisition. The land pooling scheme is possibly the largest in the world and is the subject of local debate. Geoff’s role is to assess the way the policies are being implemented to ensure that no groups are disadvantaged.

Geoff in UN-Habitat Global Urban Lecture series

The United Nations has just released Geoff’s lecture on land tenure and property rights as part of the UN-Habitat Global Urban Lecture series. You can see it on their website.

The lecture distills 30 years of international experience on land tenure issues to provide a short, non-technical review of concepts, issues, methods and policy examples.

Geoff hopes the lecture will be useful for students, practitioners and policy makers and would be happy to receive feedback.

Ethiopia Urban Land Supply and Affordable Housing Study

In late 2016, Geoff was invited by ICF Consultants to join their proposal to undertake a major review of urban land supply and affordable housing in Ethiopia. The proposal was successful and Geoff has been appointed as the lead consultant in the review of urban land production and lease transfer, while Dr. Graham Tipple has been appointed the international lead in reviewing affordable housing.  The project will involve detailed studies in three cities, Addis Ababa, Adama, and Mekelle. Geoff will be working in collaboration with the local land expert Dr. Wondimu Abeje and Graham will be working together with Dr. Elias Yitbarek. The project will include a range of quantitative and qualitative research methods including extensive household surveys, semi-structured in-depth case studies, key informant interviews, focus group discussions and a review of the extensive literature on the subject.

Enjoying a coffee with Elias and Graham in the country where coffee was discovered

Enjoying a coffee with Elias and Graham in the country where coffee was discovered

The project will be undertaken over an eighteen month period and will include presentations on findings with key stakeholders in Ethiopia and discussions on policy and regulatory options for improving access to affordable, secure and reasonably located land for all those in need and means of strengthening the capability of central, provincial and municipal authorities in urban land management and administration.

Street scene in Mekelle

Street scene in Mekelle (መቐለ)

Local residents in Mekelle

Local residents in Mekelle (መቐለ)

Geoff undertook the first of several missions in March, during which he met key officials in Addis Ababa and Mekelle and visited a range of residential, commercial and industrial developments. A second mission is planned for early May to initiate the key informant interviews.

Improving tenure security for the urban poor in Cambodia

Geoffrey Payne visited Phnom Penh, Cambodia between 05-18 September as part of the ongoing project funded by Cities Alliance, GTZ and UN-Habitat to improve security of tenure and property rights for the urban poor.

The visit was mainly intended to attend a workshop being organised jointly by UN-Habitat and GPA on preparations for a national housing policy and the tenure project. The visit also enabled meetings to be held with His Excellency Im Chhun Lim, Minister of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction and His Excellency Kep Chuk Tema, ,Governor of Phnom Penh, together with many senior officials, leaders of NGOs and CBOs, academics, and representatives of donor agencies.

Cambodia is a country on the move. When our project started, residents of informal settlements were routinely being evicted at short notice and relocated to plots well outside the city. This not only disrupted their lives, but also increased poverty since they had to spend long times and increased costs travelling to places where they could earn a livelihood. Since early 2003, however, there has been a fundamental change of direction. The Prime Minister has announced a programme to upgrade 100 informal settlements a year for five years and only relocate existing settlements in cases where the land was needed for urgent public purposes or people were living in environmentally sensitive locations.

Our project is contributing land tenure options for these upgrading settlements, together with pilot projects on land sharing and new affordable developments. We are considering options for communal leases in order to minimise the burden on the municipality and provide residents with long term security in ways which discourage higher income groups from buying up plots. We also hope to liaise with local NGOs and the Asian Coalition of Housing Rights which are developing major initiatives on community led development projects in which tenure issues are important. Developments are anticipated later this year on the tenure front. GPA will also contribute a section on tenure to the draft housing policy.

Improving tenure security for existing slum residents and helping prevent the need for future slums


The role of a Land Tenure Typology and Regulatory Audits as complementary approaches to a more secure future.

Millions of people currently live without adequate security of tenure or property rights in the urban areas of developing countries. The United Nations expects the total to increase by nearly 37 million a year to 1.5 billion by 2020. In urban areas, where costs of access to legal land and housing are high and rising far faster than incomes, millions have to resort to illegal and unstable shelter. This is not just a problem for those living with insecurity on a daily basis who are unlikely to operate to their maximum potential, or invest in improving their homes and neighbourhoods. It is also a serious problem for governments seeking to harness the creative energies of their populations to achieve economic development and reduce poverty. In some countries, the proportion of people living in unauthorised settlements is already much higher than those in formal land and housing markets.

Given these high rates of urbanisation and urban growth during recent decades in developing countries, it is essential to improve the security and rights of people who are currently in the various types of unauthorised settlements. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals aim ‘to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers’ by 2020. However this target appears insignificant when compared to the 1.5 billion who are expected to be living in slums during the same period. On this basis, even achieving the MDGs will result in 1.4 billion people living in slums over and above existing numbers . It is therefore also essential to address the issue of how to reduce the need for new unauthorised settlements in the future by increasing the supply of planned, legal and affordable land on a scale equal to present and future demand.

Before making any policy decisions to address these parallel issues, it is necessary to develop a comprehensive understanding of local land tenure patterns and the frameworks which regulate urban land development and supply. The ‘Land Tenure Typology’ and ‘Regulatory Audit’ presented in this web page are two highly complementary tools developed by GPA, which will enable you to undertake your own review of the existing situation in your local area. This understanding can then inform decisions about policies to increase tenure security for existing slum populations -and even more importantly – make the need for future slums, less necessary.

Try these two techniques and let us know if they are useful!

Improving Tenure Security for the Urban Poor – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Funding body: Funded jointly by Cities AllianceUN-Habitat and GTZ .

The project followed on from a research project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to assess the tenure situation facing the urban poor in Phnom Penh during March and April 2002. The subsequent project has sought to develop innovative approaches to providing secure tenure for the urban poor in Phnom Penh as part of the capital’s social and economic development strategy. It has adopted an incremental approach to increasing formal tenure status and property rights to all informal settlements for a short initial period, during which surveys would identify those settlements considered suitable for in-situ upgrading and those which would need to be relocated. For those settlements to be upgraded, the objective has been to integrate them into the formal tenure system over time, in order to minimise speculative pressure, protect tenants from rapid rent increases and minimise distortion in land markets.
The main objectives of the project are to:

  1. Improve security for urban low-income households in Phnom Penh by offering residents of informal settlements in environmentally hazardous or economically strategic locations, Temporary Occupation Licenses (TOLs), and those in other areas longer terms of tenure security.
  2. Undertake a regulatory audit or review of the present urban planning regulations, planning standards and administrative procedures to identify options for reducing the cost of entry to legal and affordable shelter, thereby reducing the need for future slum formation;
  3. Identify available sites for Guided Land Development or other innovative approaches within the present urban boundaries to which households in environmentally hazardous or economically strategic locations can be moved before the expiration of their TOLs, unless applications to extend these are agreed, in which case such relocation will be on a voluntary basis. Residents of areas where TOLs are allocated will be encouraged to participate in the planning and form of such new developments;
  4. To strengthen the capability of central and local government agencies to undertake pro-poor programs for upgrading and new urban development.

Duration: March 2003 – October 2004

Project outputs:

  1. Four project reports (Inception, Workshop, Progress and Final Reports).
  2. Design and undertake settlement survey of informal settlements to identify those suitable for in-situ upgrading and those for relocation.
  3. Recommendations on changes to tenure system. A Summary of these recommendations can be found in ‘Getting ahead of the game’ (G.Payne) Environment & Urbanization Vol 17, No 1 April 2005.

In 2001, research carried out on tenure issues in Cambodia by Geoffrey Payne and Dr Beng Socheat Khemro demonstrated the potential for innovative approaches to improving tenure security for the urban poor. On completion of the project, a request was made by the Royal Government of Cambodia for assistance in developing practical options for improving secure tenure and a proposal was submitted to Cities Alliance, UN-Habitat (Fukuoka) and GTZ (Cambodia) for funding. This was approved and work commenced in March 2003

The project is based on research undertaken as part of an international research project funded by DFID with support from UN-HABITAT to assess progress in the provision of secure tenure for the urban poor in ten countries. Cambodia was one of the major case study countries, together with the Philippines, and fieldwork for the research was carried out in Phnom Penh during March and April 2002. The research demonstrated that there is a wide range of land tenure and property rights systems in Phnom Penh each of which forms part of a continuum in terms of the degree of security and rights they provide. It also demonstrated that the present policy of relocating residents of unauthorized slum settlements has increased poverty by removing poor households long distances from the central locations in which they earn their livelihoods. It has also discouraged households able to afford improvements from doing so. A subsequent workshop involving representatives of central and local government, international donor agencies and local civil society groups accepted that a range of alternative approaches deserved to be tested to see if they could meet the needs of the urban poor, whilst encouraging investment in the city and improving its environment. The research report presented some initial proposals to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Development and Construction and the Municipality of Phnom Penh.

On completion of the project, a request was made by the Royal Government of Cambodia for assistance in developing practical options for improving secure tenure and a proposal was submitted to Cities Alliance, UN-Habitat (Fukuoka) and GTZ (Cambodia) for funding. This was approved and work commenced in March 2003. This subsequent project was intended to build on the City Development Strategy currently in its final stages.
The project comprised proposals for four phases, as follows:

  1. Phase 1: Undertake a regulatory audit or review of the present planning regulations, standards and administrative procedures affecting access to legal shelter.
  2. Phase 2: Identify existing unauthorised settlements in environmentally hazardous or economically strategic locations and identify available sites for Guided Land Development projects.
  3. Phase 3: Issue Temporary Occupation Licenses and detailed plans prepared for a Guided Land Development.
  4. Phase. 4: Reports prepared on research studies in Siem Reap and Battambang and Guided Land Development. Workshops to be held and final reports prepared.

The project recommended that security of tenure be increased on an incremental basis for residents in informal settlements on selected state private land as well as state public land. The reason for this incremental approach, rather than the conventional approach of providing full individual titles to households in informal settlements was to prevent a dramatic increase in land values within inner city settlements. This was considered undesirable in that it would:

  1. Encourage many residents to sell their houses, probably for less than their new value to developers and speculators
  2. Encourage such sellers to invade other state land in an attempt to repeat the process
  3. Increase rents or lead to the eviction of existing tenants, who represented the poorest social groups
  4. Place an excessive burden on the existing administrative agencies responsible for surveying informal settlements and issuing titles.

For these reasons, an initial Moratorium on Relocations and Evictions (MORE) was proposed in order to guarantee residents in all informal settlements a minimum period of security for a period of up to nine months. During this period, criteria were developed and surveys carried out to identify any informal settlements which would need to be relocated because they are on land needed for a public purpose, or which is environmentally unsuitable for housing. Discussions were held with the relevant authorities to confirm the list. However, the Municipality considered that residents may interpret a moratorium as providing longer term tenure and the proposal was not adopted.

Following this decision, it was proposed to move directly to the second stage of providing a Communal Land Right (CLR) to designated informal settlements to be upgraded in-situ as part of the RGC policy announced in May, 2003 of upgrading 100 slums a year for five years. It was intended to introduce this in selected settlements during late 2003 and early 2004. This would have enabled the project objectives of providing practical improvements to tenure security to be realised within the project period and provided a framework for introducing longer term tenure arrangements (Communal Land Titles) within a five year period covered by the CLR. Any household still wanting to obtain individual titles would be free to do so provided they resolved any competing claims, agreed borders with their neighbours and paid the associated survey and registration costs.

After many discussions with key persons responsible for the legal framework on land issues at the Ministry of LMUPC, the conclusion was reached that a CLR could be issued once a sub-decree on registering urban poor communities was approved. Since Cambodia has no such sub-decree, it is recommended that this be drafted and approved by RGC as soon as possible.