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Home » April 2011 » Gauging Urban LandMark's impact over the last five years

Urban LandMark's incremental tenure approach

Steve Topham, an independent consultant to NUSP, is of the view that the work of Urban LandMark has had important indirect impacts in terms of informing government's informal settlement upgrading initiatives. He argues that without inputs from Urban LandMark, the NUSP drafting team would not have had the sophisticated understanding of tenure necessary for the task.

Urban LandMark, he argues, has effectively contributed to what is, in his opinion, the biggest shift in housing policy since 1994. The achievements to date have centred around conceptual shifts and the acceptance of these changes by key government structures.

Our support to the National Upgrading Support Programme (NUSP)

The NUSP programme aims to provide a substantial number of households in well-located informal settlements with access to basic services and security of tenure over time.

The programme has been formally approved by the housing Minister and Members of the Executive Council (MINMEC)1 and enjoys the support of the Presidency. It also forms part of the delivery agreement between the national Minister and Provincial MECs.

Urban LandMark's support to the NUSP included providing information on forms of tenure to inform the process, participating in key engagements and strategic meetings, hosting joint events and workshops, and developing a resource manual on in situ upgrading.

The initiative has enjoyed attention at the highest political levels. The following is an extract from the President's State of the Nation Address of 11 February 2010:

As you are aware, we are committed to five priorities:
education, health, rural development and land reform, creating decent work, and fighting crime.
In addition, we will work to improve the effectiveness of local government, infrastructure development and human settlements.
We will undertake a number of key activities towards the achievement of these outcomes.
During this year of action, let us work together to make local government everybody's business.
We are working to upgrade well-located informal settlements and provide proper service and land tenure to at least 500 000 households by 2014.
We plan to set aside over 6 000 hectares of well-located public land for low-income and affordable housing.

A key new initiative will be to accommodate people whose salaries are too high to get government subsidies, but who earn too little to qualify for a normal bank mortgage.
We will set up a guarantee fund of R1 billion to incentivise the private banking and housing sector, to develop new products to meet this housing demand.

While we share attribution for this far-reaching set of policy statements with a number of partner organisations, it is clear that Urban LandMark has played a significant role in shifting the discourse on informal settlements to include the notion of incremental tenure development, and away from the idea of informal settlement 'eradication'.

We have also placed land release on the agenda through the LANDfirst network's call for managed land release.

The implementation of the approach is now under way, and Urban LandMark is likely to be involved in a number of capacities, including NUSP's training programme.

1 Forums where national ministers and provincial MECs with common sectoral responsibilities co-ordinate their activities.

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