Public-Private partnerships in land for housing

Funding body: Department for International Development (DFID). KaR project number R6541.

Research in this area has concentrated so far on partnerships in the USA and UK. Within developing countries, little work has been carried out on partnerships in land provision or development, except for land pooling, land banking and land readjustment. The research, by case study, assesses and compares a wide range of innovative approaches and their potential for application in other countries. Low income households are aimed at as the main beneficiaries, by providing them with affordable access to legal land for housing. Government agencies in the case study countries and others also stand to gain from the increased awareness of Public-Private partnerships and the options that are available to them.

Duration: 1st April 1996 – 31st December 1997


  • A report cataloging and assessing major examples of intermediate tenure systems and their impact in improving security for the urban poor, planning and land management and tenure security. The report was submitted as a contribution to the UN Istanbul+5 conference.
  • A book covering the design and implementation of a wide range of partnerships for the efficient and equitable use of urban land. The book has been published under the title ‘Making common ground, edited by Geoffrey Payne.

To date, most research on Public-Private partnerships in developing countries has concentrated on the provision and maintenance of infrastructure. Research on innovations in land provision for housing has been limited.

The study involved primary research in five countries, however a number of additional studies were commissioned by local experts in Mexico, Bulgaria and Russia and the UK. Each of the case studies had the potential of being developed as replicable models for further application.

The Egyptian case study documents ways in which residents of informal housing subdivisions work with the local authority to provide commercial areas and social facilities. In some cases, local authorities have been known to construct scattered buildings on agricultural land in peri-urban locations, to guide subsequent development by land-owners and developers. Once the areas has been developed to an adequate density, services are then installed. At the same time, local communities agree informally on the planning conventions, rights and obligations regarding the development of individual sites. In this way, illegal subdivisions are becoming subject to local authority regulations, if not control.

The Indian case study assesses CIDCO’s Participatory Development Scheme for bulk land development and the use of Transferable Development Rights for making land available for public amenities. It also assesses the Cochin Integrated Development of Islands Programme, in Kerala, in which developers are invited to quote for a parcel of land following the agreement of the project agency to construct bridges and other infrastructure. The costs of these works are then recovered from the increased revenue generated from the completed developments. Other examples within India will also be assessed in terms of their ability to provide housing for low-income groups, provide infrastructure and amenities and integrate Project Affected People into development projects through direct partnerships.

The Pakistan case assesses the well-known Khuda-ki-Basti project in Hyderabad and the ways in which the approach in being applied in Sindh and other provinces. It expands on the previous studies of the Khuda Ki Basti project by assessing the ways in which local authority action seeks to build the capacity of local communities to undertake developmental works under their own control. This reinforces the technical, financial and managerial strengths of communities and seeks to enhance local community leadership. Other examples, in which public agencies are learning lessons from the activities of illegal developers (called ‘dallals’) will be analysed.

The South African project involves a Public-Private partnership in central Cap Town relating to a high density project in Woodstock. It was developed as a demonstration project to show how the task of the reconstruction and development of South African cities could be achieved through higher densities and social integration. The partnership was between a non-profit housing utility company and the Cape Town City Council. Other examples of innovation in other parts of South Africa will also be assessed where possible.

The emphasis of the project was to assess the lessons learned from the case studies and identify their potential application in other contexts.

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