Making urban land markets work better in South African cities and towns: arguing the basis for access by the poor | Land Portal

Informations sur la ressource

Date of publication: 
janvier 2007
Resource Language: 
ISBN / Resource ID: 

Contemporary and historical state interventions in South African cities and towns have distorted urban land markets affecting especially the poor. Although partly underpinned by a formidable land administration system and a strong land rights base, South African cities and towns continue to manifest the historic inequality of class and race in their spatial land use and ownership patterns. This is reflected in, and reinforced by, unequal access to markets in land, housing, property in general, and development and use rights which has resulted in market failure for less wealthy individuals and households in their attempts to find places to live, trade and manufacture in order to earn a decent living. This paper discusses the balance between state allocation of urban land and market distribution of land as a resource, an asset which inevitably becomes a commodity which can be used by the poor more or less effectively to alleviate poverty. Observations are made about how the market has been distorted, and why it would make good sense (socially, economically and ideologically) for poorer communities to be better located in South African urban areas.

The author concludes that this distortion does not favour the poor and the implication is that the poor will remain poor, victims of jobless and landless growth, endless recipients of state allocation, and dislocated to the urban periphery. S/he portends that crude attempts to bring the two economies together may have the opposite rather than the desired effect and suggests deliberate bending markets slightly using state interventions in a circumspect manner as have been done in other parts of the world. The author cautions that for this to be achieved, there is need to further build the capacity of officials to negotiate with market players, reduce administrative costs and complexities, make market information available to potential sellers and buyers, extract value and disburse responsibly, bring urban actors together around common actions, transfer best practices and cleverly predict and monitor the impacts of the interventions.

Auteurs et éditeurs

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

M. Napier


"Urban LandMark" is short for the Urban Land Markets Programme Southern Africa. Based in Pretoria, the programme was set up in May 2006 with seven years of funding from the UK's Department for International Development until March 2013. The initiative is now hosted at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in South Africa.

Fournisseur de données

eldis (ELDIS)

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