International Development Planning Review

Social agency and state authority in land delivery processes in African cities: Compliance, conflict and cooperation

International Development Planning Review (2006), 28, (2), 263–285.

Abstract

Housing land delivery processes in five medium-sized cities in Anglophone Africa (Enugu in Nigeria, Kampala in Uganda, Maseru in Lesotho, Gaborone in Botswana and Eldoret in Kenya) are compared, to identify commonalities and differences in the channels for housing land delivery and relations between the informal and formal institutions and actors involved. Factors that have led to compliance or non-compliance with regulatory provisions are identified; conflicts over land ownership and subdivision explained; and the circumstances in which relations between state and non-state actors demonstrate mutual accommodation rather than conflict analysed. Institutional analysis and a legal pluralist framework are used to examine the social institutions that govern the perceptions and behaviour of land actors. It is concluded that informal land delivery processes are often both continuations of earlier land administration practices and also responses to the failure of formal systems, with which they have complex and contested relations. They deliver large volumes of land more successfully than formal systems, but the social institutions on which they rely are weakening in the face of continued urbanisation and commercialisation. It is argued that neither continued conflict between formal and informal systems nor widespread non-compliance are solutions. Instead, the mutual adjustments that often characterise informal land delivery processes can provide a basis for future policies and improved cooperation with government.

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Rakodi, Carole