Urban Land Tenure

A large and increasing proportion of people in the urban areas of developing countries are unable to obtain access to legal shelter and are forced to live in various types of unauthorised settlements. Whilst this presents urban authorities with major problems, the situation is even more difficult for the poor themselves. However, various forms of tenure have evolved to meet their needs and create situations in which there is now a continuum of formal, customary and non-formal tenure categories in most cities.

Geoffrey Payne, director of GPA, has been undertaking research on tenure issues since 1989, when he was commissioned to undertake an international review of the subject by the World Bank. Since then, he has carried out research for, amongst others, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in collaboration with the United Nations Campaign for Secure Tenure.

In 1999, GPA was commissioned by DFID and the Lincoln Institute for Land Policy in Cambridge, USA to undertake a major international research project on innovative approaches to secure tenure for the urban poor. This included examples from fifteen countries an has resulted in a documentary film called ‘Land Rites’ which was transmitted on BBC World Television in June 2001 as part of the run-up to the United Nations Istanbul+5 conference in New York. Geoffrey Payne was part of the UK delegation to this conference, at which the film and a media pack summarising the case studies was launched. A book is being prepared for publication at the end of 2001. In 2000, he was invited by the World Bank to present a paper on land tenure and property rights at the bank’s annual Urban Forum.

Selected Projects

The Role of Land in Achieving Adequate and Affordable Housing (UN-Habitat) Land Based Finance for Affordable Housing

GPA was commissioned by UN-Habitat to prepare a review of different land-based finance policy instruments applicable for improving access to affordable housing. An initial report was prepared as the basis for a presentation at UN-Habitat in Nairobi in May 2019. Following feedback and a range of meetings with senior UN-Habitat staff, the report was expanded and renamed to provide a range of non-market options. It is hoped that the report will be helpful for mayors and other policymakers. To access the report, please click here

Land pooling project in India
GPA was commissioned by the World Bank to assess the proposed land pooling policy instrument being undertaken to develop land for the new capital city for Andra Pradesh and to prepare a report. The assignment involved two missions and was completed in late 2018.

Increasing tenure security
Geoff was invited by the Network-Association of European Researchers on Urbanisation in the South (N-AERUS) to present a paper on ‘Options for intervention: Increasing tenure security for community development and urban transformation’ at the World Urban f\orum in Quito, Ecuador. His paper will be published as a chapter in a book to be published in late 2019.

Tenure security in Indonesia
Geoff was commissioned by the World Bank to assess the land tenure implications of a house improvement programme for possible Bank funding.

Secure and affordable land in Vietnam
Commissioned to contribute as urban land specialist on the World Bank funded mission on ‘Affordable Housing in Vietnam: A Way Forward’ The assignment involved identifying policy options for increasing the supply of affordable and secure land for the urban areas of Vietnam, especially those on low incomes.

Issue Brief on ‘Land Tenure in Urban Environments’
Geoff was commissioned by by Cloudburst Consultants, Washington DC, on behalf of USAID to prepare an Issue Brief on ‘Land Tenure in Urban Environments’. The review has been published and was presented at a seminar on ‘Making Cities Work’ at USAID in Washington DC in April, 2014.

Informal settlements in India
Geoff was appointed land tenure expert on the Informal Settlements Improvement Project. Responsibilities include advising on the design of the proposed project.

Security of Tenure report
GPA was commissioned by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing to prepare a report on ‘Security of Tenure: Types, Policies, Practices and Challenges’. The report was prepared with GPA Associate Alain Durand-Lasserve and was published as an official United Nations report in February 2013.

Rwanda land tenure review
Geoff collaborated with Alain Durand-Lasserve on a sub-contract with Practical Action to review Phase 2 of the DFID funded Land Tenure Regularisation Programme currently being implemented throughout the country.

Land tenure in Cambodia
Geoff was appointed technical expert on a World Bank Inspection Panel assessment into the design and implementation of the multi-donor Land Management and Administration Programme. The report addressed the impact of proposals for land tenure changes for residents in central Phnom Penh and was presented as part of the Inspection Panel report presented at a meeting of the Board of Directors of the World Bank in March, 2011.

Regularisation of informal settlements
Commissioned by UNDP to prepare papers on governance and regularization of informal settlements for use by UNDP staff and other professionals.

Secure Land Rights for All
Prepare a policy paper with Julian Quan for the global Land Tool Network, UN-Habitat on land tenure systems and the extent to which they meet specified criteria, such as increased security, access to formal credit, increased investment in housing and increased municipal revenues. The report was published in 2008 as a UN-Habitat report ‘Secure Land Rights for All’.
Social and Economic Impacts of Land titling Programmes
Commissioned by the Government of Norway to prepare a review of the social and economic impacts of land titling programmes. The report was published, together with Alain Durand-Lasserve and Carole Rakodi in Lall, Somik, Freire, Mila, Yuen, Belinda, Rajack, Robin and Helluin, Jean-Jacques (edtors) ‘Urban Land Markets: Improving Land Management for Successful Urbanization’ Springer, New York, 2009.

Urban and peri-urban land titling programmes
GPA was awarded funds by SIDA to undertake a social and economic impact assessment of urban and peri-urban land titling programmes in Senegal and South Africa. The project started in June 2007 and was completed in early 2008. Leading researchers in each country were commissioned to undertake fieldwork and analysis.

Land tenure in Bangladesh
Commissioned by UN-Habitat to survey urban land tenure problems in three cities (Chittagong, Kushtia and Naraynganj) and identify options for improving urban land management and tenure security for the urban poor.

Desk review of land titling programmes
Geoff was commissioned by the Government of Norway to co-ordinate and manage a desk review with colleagues of international land titling programmes.

Towards developing a Programme of Support on Land Issues in South Africa.
Advising the UK Department for International Development – South Africa on options for supporting government policy on urban land management in ways which benefit the urban poor.

Land Tenure Concept Paper, Cambodia
Produced a land tenure concept paper for the National Campaign for Secure Tenure of Cambodia, for UN-Habitat.
Land tenure issues paper
Guest editor of research bulletin ‘Insights’ special issue on land tenure and property rights. 12,000 copies distributed to policy makers, administrators and professional groups internationally.
Land titling review
UK government – Commissioned by DFID to prepare a report for the Cabinet Office assessing the work and proposals of Hernando de Soto on land tenure and property rights’.

Improving tenure security for the urban poor, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Director of ‘Secure tenure for the urban poor’ project funded jointly by Cities Alliance, UN-Habitat and GTZ 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.

Secure Tenure for the Urban Poor
Commissioned by the UK Department for International Development as an extension to the project ‘Innovative approaches to secure tenure for the urban poor’ (below). The project provided evidence of the strengths and limitations of ‘intermediate’ non-statutory tenure systems in providing secure shelter and their potential contribution to the formulation and implementation of pro-poor urban land tenure policies. It also contributed policy options to the UN-Habitat campaign for Secure Tenure and the Cities Alliance activities.

Innovative approaches to secure tenure for the urban poor.
Commissioned by the UK Department for International Development to review innovative approaches for increasing security of tenure for the urban poor. The project reviewed examples and prepared recommendations (including a film transmitted on BBC World Television in June 2001 and a media pack) submitted to the UNCHS Campaign for Tenure Security and the Istanbul+5 conference in 2001. A book (‘Land, Rights and Innovation: Improving tenure security for the urban poor’ Intermediate Technology Publications, 2002). Cases were reviewed in Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt,  India, Kenya, Peru, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey.

Land tenure and property rights in Kenya
World Bank Urban Forum – Presented paper on urban land tenure policy issues and options in Kenya – Presented paper on tenure at UN Istanbul+5 PrepCom conference. Belgium – Member of the Commission evaluating research and training courses at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.

Urban land tenure policy
International review of policies on land tenure and property rights for the UK Overseas Development Administration (now DFID).

Land tenure and property rights review
Land tenure and property rights.  Commissioned by the World Bank to prepare a Discussion Paper.