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In the news


Urbanisation and development: Policy lessons from the BRICS experience
This discussion paper by Gordon McGranahan and George Martine is part of a collaborative review of urbanisation in Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) by the IIED and the UNFPA. The review aims to gauge the role of urbanisation in the development efforts of the BRICS countries and to identify the key policy implications for other developing countries. The BRICS' vastly different individual experiences of 'urban transition' offer examples of how to seize urbanisation's opportunities, but also lessons on the pitfalls and problems inappropriate policies can bring.

Angola's trophy city a 'ghost town'
Built at a reported cost of $3.5-billion, the Nova Cidade de Kilamba (New City of Kilamba) was supposed to solve -Angola's chronic post-war housing shortage and go some way to fulfil a 2008 election promise to provide -one million homes in four years. But while the city was designed for several hundred thousand people, it is home to barely a tenth of that number, earning it the moniker of "ghost town".

Zimbabwe: Treasury to stimulate mortgage finance
Zimbabwe is planning to re-introduce paid-up permanent shares (PUPS) as its Treasury seeks to stimulate mortgage financing. The PUPS will enable building societies to raise long-term funding for periods of up to two years.

Fight for Philippi: Cape farmland could lose ground to housing
Despite research warning that the Philippi horticultural area, a mere 20-minute drive from the city centre, is crucial to the city's food security and particularly that of its poorest, the Western Cape department of environmental affairs and development planning opened the door for the rezoning of potential farmland to allow urban development.

Standard Bank Group Ltd: Affordable housing rental market looks increasingly attractive
The South African residential market offers an attractive opportunity in the affordable housing rental segment largely driven by low and middle-income earners who do not qualify for bonds and increased demand for housing located closer to areas of economic opportunity.

Zimbabwe: Home seekers scramble for co-operatives
Expensive mortgages have forced desperate home seekers to turn to housing co-operatives that have sprouted throughout Zimbabwe. According to a survey by The Herald, stands in medium and low-density areas range between US$5 000 and US$90 000. The price range has made it impossible for the ordinary person to own a stand or a house.

Lower-middle class gets housing assistance
The department of human settlements in the Eastern Cape has approved the first five beneficiaries of the much anticipated Finance Linked Individual Subsidy Programme. The programme was announced by President Jacob Zuma in his state of the nation address earlier this year.

Diepkloof investment brochure refers to Urban LandMark study on value capture
The City of Johannesburg and the Johannesburg Development Agency recently published a brochure to encourage investment in Diepkloof. The brochure refers to a value capture study by Urban LandMark, which estimated that land values in the Diepkloof area could increase dramatically, from R120 per m² today to an estimated value of up to R2 200 per m² by 2030.

Land sales via treaty or auction: A Namibian youth perspective
The Namibian authorities want to halt the auctioning of land with a view to making urban land cheaper and more accessible for low-income earners and young professionals. The writer of this article argues that the government's intended course of action should be aimed mainly at "preventing monopolies, cartels and other market players from using their power to set prices or output in the market".

Johannesburg: Doing the best for residents of informal settlements
The City of Johannesburg is exploring innovative ways of relocating residents living on unsuitable land to more user-friendly neighbourhoods within easy reach of public amenities. Recently, Mayor Parks Tau and several senior housing officials visited their counterparts in the City of Tshwane for knowledge exchange on the issue.

KPMG on fact-finding mission about SA cities
City-dwellers had to come together to ensure those who ran the city did so armed with workable, forward-looking plans, David O'Brein, leader of KPMG's Global Centre of Excellence for Cities said in Johannesburg on Monday. A team from the centre are in South Africa to meet with local, provincial and national government, including the Treasury, to hold discussions and establish relationships.

The South African Informal City
In 2011, the South African Informal City exhibition was conceived to highlight informal practices as an important issue for sustainable urban development. The objective was to explore the work being conducted around informality in South Africa and other developing countries. The project has since grown into a comprehensive website and a print publication supported by Urban LandMark.

Asia: Rethinking development finance for city 'slums'
Very little aid is actually available to low-income urban groups and grassroots organisations. If it is, it is subject to the conditions and priorities established by the aid provider. The Asian Coalition for Community Action (ACCA) is challenging this funding model by providing small grants to low-income communities for the initiatives they choose and supporting these communities to work together and work with their local governments.

Cape Town launches its biggest housing project
The City of Cape Town on Thursday launched its biggest housing project to date - On The Vlei (Market Housing) & New Horizons (GAP Housing) in Pelican Park. A total of 3 200 houses will be built for different income groups on the 80 ha site. The project will help the province make a dent in its housing waiting list, which Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said was 500 000-strong.

Zimbabwe: New scheme to benefit home seekers
Home-seekers are set to get relief following a partnership between the Zimbabwe Amalgamated Housing Association and the ZABG Bank to provide low-income residential stands.

East London: R3.6 million paid for land for new Orange Grove development
Residents of the Orange Grove informal settlement in East London were over the moon this weekend when they received news that Human Settlements department had concluded a R3.6-million land transaction for developmental purposes in the area.

Innovative funding model allows urban poor to determine their own future
The first global fund to give poor people direct control over urban development spending is having more than just a local impact.

Urbanisation of Africa is inevitable, and good
To outsiders, the problems raised by increased urbanisation in Africa seem insurmountable, but the new Director for UN Habitat in Brussels, Jean- Christophe Adrian disagrees, saying building sustainable cities after many decades of poor or non-existent planning can be done.

Kenya's slum dwellers versus the elite
Sick of their living conditions, Nairobi's poorest are suing their plutocrat landlords for the right to their land.

Social housing: The South African model
Sam Odia, National Director of The Fuller Center for Housing, explains why Nigeria has much to learn from South Africa's experience and policy in providing affordable housing.

SA city planners face many challenges
South Africa and the African continent would experience unprecedented levels of urbanisation in the next few decades which would present major challenges that governments and urban planners needed to be more aware of, Planning Minister Trevor Manuel warned on Monday.

Urban land set to triple by 2030, study suggests
Urban development is set to triple in the first three decades of this century, the largest cityscape expansion in human history, according to a new study that for the first time maps out urbanisation hotspots.

Namibia: Housing crisis continues as bank seeks partners in low-cost market
First National Bank (FNB) of Namibia is eager to partner with low-cost housing providers for the construction of houses in the country, which are currently in short supply. The latest housing index released by FNB last month indicated that land delivery across the country continued to deteriorate, in contrast to growing demand.

Building innovation into low-end housing finance
Sub-Saharan Africa is transforming its housing finance system and both policy makers and private practitioners are scrambling to keep up. A new course offers housing financers ways to steer clear of the issues that led to the US sub-prime crisis.

Namibia: Law banning urban land auctions coming
The Namibian Government has put in motion plans to change the Local Authorities Act and to ban town councils from selling land through auctions or tender processes that prevent many low-income earners from owning properties due to inflated prices.

Diverse range of retail insights at Annual Shopping Centre Congress
The 16th annual SACSC Congress will be held at the International Convention Centre in Durban, South Africa from 19-21 September 2012. Delegates hoping to gain a diversity of insight at congress will not be disappointed, as the theme (Connect: The Power of Personal) plays out across a variety of retail topics.

RDP homes 'dead capital' of nearly R50 billion
Failure to register nearly half of all RDP houses with any deeds office could be costing the South African economy at least R50bn, according to the Free Market Foundation. Nearly half of all houses built in formerly black-designated areas are not registered with any deeds office - a situation which means their owners effectively have no legal claim to their homes.

Notaries: Breaking the seals
Life is changing for notaries all over the world. Whereas they are losing their privileges in Europe, their authority is growing in Asia. Even America now sees the beginnings of a debate about their role. More is at stake than the fate of an obscure and little-loved profession.

Zimbabwe: Will new housing policy address agony of home seekers?
While government has sought to make public land available for pro-poor housing schemes in parts of Harare, beneficiaries - particularly civil servants - are finding it hard to build proper accommodation facilities. Urban migration has led to many of them living in dilapidated cabins.

Urbanisation in Africa: A new town
Property developers are building satellite cities and new housing compounds on the outskirts of some of Africa's largest cities, demonstrating a new trend in African urbanisation.

Land, financial obstacles identified as major hurdles in housing sector
A two-day international workshop on housing and informal settlement upgrading, which opened in Accra on Wednesday, has identified land topography and the inaccessibility of land and finance as major challenges in the housing industry in Africa.

How urban sprawl intensified floods in the Philippines
Unchecked development and rapidly growing informal settlements in metropolitan Manila have exacerbated the devastation of the recent flooding in the Philippines, according to a UN official.

Demolitions ravage Liberia neighbourhoods
Squatter areas in the West African state's capital are being levelled, destroying thousands of homes.The area is home to thousands, includes one of the busiest markets in the city, and has the distinction of finding itself on a very short list of Monrovia tourist attractions highlighted by the Lonely Planet travel guide.

Nigeria: Demolition of Makoko, 'the Venice of Lagos', tramples on human rights and urban beauty
The Lagos State Government has begun demolishing Makoko, one of the world's most iconic informal settlements. Violent eviction of the community in direct contravention of international law has resulted in the death of at least one neighbouring resident.

New shacks improve lives in Joe Slovo informal settlement
A partnership between the city of Cape Town, the Informal Settlement Network and the Community Organisation Resource Centre is improving living conditions in Joe Slovo informal settlement by demolishing old shacks and repositioning them in order to create roadways through the settlement.

City rethinks by-law enforcement in Joe Slovo informal settlement
Protest action by Joe Slovo informal settlement residents last week after the City of Cape Town removed an illegally-placed shipping container has led to the City relenting on its by-law crackdown in the area.

Sexwale dissolves 'dysfunctional' Estate Agency Affairs Board
Human Settlements Minister Tokyo Sexwale asks Special Investigating Unit to probe regulatory body of an industry that makes up 15% of South Africa's gross domestic product.

Cape Town: Residents of informal settlements fear housing scheme was a scam
Hundreds of residents and backyard dwellers in Doornbach, Thembeni and Joe Slovo informal settlements who paid R3 650 each to secure land upon which they could build are frustrated that years later, they have yet to see anything happen.

Grant boosts Stellenbosh University project to upgrade informal settlements
Stellenbosch University's iShack project, which aims for "improved" shacks, allows for incremental upgrading of informal settlements, enabling residents to assess services such as electricity and sanitation. In addition to funding from the National Research Foundation, the project has received a large grant and is looking to expand its work.

Land is not a Utopia for the dispossessed
Eighty per cent of the claims filed with South Africa's land commission were for forced removals from urban rather than rural areas. As a result, perhaps it is more appropriate for the other two prongs of the land reform process - land redistribution and tenure reform - to bear the full weight of correcting the severe imbalance of land ownership patterns in South Africa, writes Bernadette Atuahene in the Mail & Guardian.

Property scene reveals Angola's wealth gap
The 50 000-plus inhabitants of Chicala, a waterfront slum in Luanda, Angola, are being relocated to new homes outside the city. The move forms part of a housing policy that looks admirable on paper but in practice appears to be cementing the gulf between wealthy Angolans and the rest.

Damaging myths on the land issue undermine and politicise reform debate
In an article published in Business Day newspaper, Leon Louw of the Free Market Foundation argues that the issue in land reform in SA should not be about the quantity of land ownership in black hands but the quality and value of the land and secure property rights.

How to upgrade informal settlements: Lessons from Langrug
A partnership between the University of Cape Town, the Community Organisation Resource Centre, Shack Dwellers International and the Stellenbosch Municipality is improving living conditions for Langrug's population of 4,088 residents.

Empower home owners, don't criminalise them
In response to a Business Day article by Stephen Grootes on the land issue, and subsequent letters to the newspaper by Gail Daus-van Wyk (Forget land, get deeds) and Keith Gottschalk (Many owners sell their RDP houses), Kecia Rust of FinMark Trust and Mark Napier of Urban LandMark argue that protecting the rights of new property owners happens best by empowering those owners, not by criminalising the resale of houses in the short term (read the Letter to the Business Day).

Greenpoint Stadium must be turned into housing, says Cosatu
The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) in the Western Cape called on city managers yesterday to dismantle Cape Town's Greenpoint stadium and turn it into low-cost housing, saying that engineers and architects believed it was possible.

Growing Africa's land
A global land rush is afoot and Africa is top of investors' lists. Optimists predict agricultural transformation, while critics fear food insecurity, degradation and displacement. Read the full article by Adam Robert Green, as published on AllAfrica.com

With three MDG targets achieved, global partnership for development is key to 2015 success, UN report says
Three important targets on poverty, slums and water have been met three years ahead of 2015, says the 2012 Report on the Millennium Development Goals, launched today by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible - but only if governments do not waiver from their commitments made over a decade ago.

Africa should deal with rapid urban population growth
Dr Imoro Braimah of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana says African leaders need to focus on the development of comprehensive policies to supervise and control urbanisation.

RIO+20: Slum-dweller power
Shack Dwellers International, a network of urban poor associations in 33 countries, has come up with a winning formula of using micro-finance or savings schemes to develop their own plans to upgrade or purchase land for housing projects, which they then present to their local authorities.

Government in race to meet housing demand
The government has remained upbeat that it will meet its housing delivery commitments amid a soaring demand for houses in the country. A mid-term review report released last week indicates that South Africa's nine provinces have since 2009 delivered 83 412 serviced sites for the relocation of households living in informal settlements.

Alexandra celebrates centenary by building 100 houses
About 100 low-cost houses are earmarked for Alexandra's newest suburb, Centenary Village, to be built by the end of the year. The project will be spearheaded by the Department of Human settlements and forms part of an initiative to commemorate the township's centenary.

'Dump' people abandoned
Thousands of destitute people - including hundreds of children - living on a Gauteng dump are being left by the provincial government to fend for themselves.Lauren Royston, coordinator for Urban Landmark, says the province's refusal to provide the settlement with basic services violates their constitutional rights.

SA's affordable housing sector ailing
The affordable housing sector remains under pressure, even as demand for urban accommodation remains at a staggering 1m homes. Of the country's four major banks, most indicated they were in the process of devising ways of assisting potential homeowners who don't currently qualify for state housing subsidies.

Sexwale aid for poor seen as boon for banks
The government's new Finance-Linked Individual Subsidy Programme (FLISP) is intended to make it easier for low-income buyers to get loans by reducing the initial home loan amount for first-time buyers of properties that cost R300 000 or less. Banks are counting on the subsidies, together with a government mortgage guarantee programme due later this year, to help revive lending, stagnant since 2009.

SA's vision of sustainable cities revealed
Government recently unveiled a plan that authorities hope will turn the country's major cities into sustainable economic hubs. Part of the new strategy would be to unlock the mineral beneficiation potential in the country's mining cities, speeding up the building of new human settlements closer to where people work and building an integrated public transport system that incorporates rail, taxis and buses.

How satellite cities are reshaping East Africa
East Africa hasn't urbanised at the same rate as the rest of the world. While over 50 per cent of the world's population now lives in cities, the East African region of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi - the members of the regional intergovernmental organisation East African Community - will only reach an urban population of 31 per cent by 2030.

What happens when slum dwellers put themselves on the map?
The April 2012 issue of the journal Environment and Urbanization reveals how organisations of the 'illegal' urban poor have made themselves matter to city governments by mapping and documenting their informal settlements and the people and businesses in them.

Edge of sustainability: why Rio+20 mustn't ignore people on city fringe
Cities are the centres of growth, dynamism and opportunity, but they are vulnerable to pollution and disasters, and their poorest people lack basic services. Fiona Marshall and Lyla Mehta of the Steps Centre argue that it is the duty of Rio+20 to ensure the poor don't lose out from rapid urbanisation.

Opportunity for low-income earners to get onto property ladder
Lower-income South Africans who are struggling to secure their first property because their income is either too low to apply for a mortgage or too high to qualify for RDP housing, can now access affordable housing options at Stellendale Village in the Western Cape.

Finmark Trust, Urban Landmark and partners participate in 'The South African Informal City' exhibition
The Architects' Collective and partners hosted the The South African Informal City exhibition in Johannesburg in November/December 2011. This survey of South Africa's most relevant and innovative design and research projects featured explorations and interventions in the informal sector from across the country. Included in the exhibition was a study into the performance of government-subsidised housing units by the Centre for Affordable Housing in Africa, funded by FinMark Trust, Urban LandMark and a number of partners. The study included a visual investment survey, in which the process and extent of home improvements in three government-subsidised housing settlements was explored.

Clayville rental project addresses needs of 'gap market'
Nedbank has entered into an agreement with Central Property Developments Johannesburg to fund a rental housing development in Clayville, located in Midrand, Gauteng. Nedbank will be injecting just over R100 million into the 12-month construction period of this project, which aims to address the needs of the gap market.

Africa's housing ministers seek integration of climate change issues in planning
Meeting in Nairobi, Kenya last week, Africa's Housing and Urban Development Ministers made a commitment to strengthen and develop transformative national urban policy and adopt strategies for realising smarter and more sustainable urban development.

Banking group reports affordable-housing milestone
South African banking group First National Bank reports it has reached its R10-billion loan target in the affordable-housing market (houses aimed at qualifying customers with a gross monthly income of up to R18 000) by providing homes to more than 90 000 families.

New windows opening in housing market
With more than three million reconstruction and development programme (RDP) houses having been allocated since the dawn of democracy, there are now indications the policy has served its purpose and the government is looking to replace it with something it considers more sustainable.

The role of documents in supporting land rights
An article by Jonathan Jackson and Evaristo Musonda, published in the Jan/Feb 2012 issue of PositionIT, details the results of a study investigating how millions of black urban residents in South Africa have been inducted into the land tenure system that used to serve whites only. The study follows the process as experienced by administrators and residents in a township on the edge of the Eastern Cape town of Bathurst.

Houses for members of saving scheme
Scores of people will have decent roofs over their heads after a non-governmental organisation, the Federation of Urban Poor, handed over new houses to delighted beneficiaries in Orange Farm on 1 March.

Transport corridors play key role in property development
The next property boom in South Africa will be driven by transport developments in and around metropolitan areas, University of Cape Town associate professor Francois Viruly said on Wednesday.

Children left behind in world's city boom: UNICEF
Urbanisation leaves hundreds of millions of children in cities and towns excluded from vital services, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) concludes in a new report.

Alex renewal makes progress
With 14 500 houses built, hostels remodelled, electricity, water and sewage upgraded, parks created, bridges built and roads tarred, the Alex Renewal Project has made a huge difference in the lives of the people of Alexandra.

Green paper consultation on land reform to be completed in March
The robust engagement on the Green Paper on Land Reform will be completed before the end of March, according to Deputy Rural Development Minister Lechesa Tsenoli.

No bond for 83% of households
Four out of five households in South Africa do not qualify for mortgages, according to an SA Institute of Race Relations survey. The survey estimated that the incomes of about 83% of the country's nearly 14 million households are not enough to qualify for bank loans.

Cape Town: Eviction fight over unsafe building
The provincial government in the Western Cape has turned to the courts in an attempt to evict a group of people squatting on a piece of land it owns in Woodstock. The department said in papers before the Western Cape High Court that the structure of the building on the property is not safe.

Informal settlements could be our cities of the future
SA is one of the world's biggest manufacturers of shantytowns, commonly known as informal settlements. Independent consultant Greg Mills argues that by seeing these settlements as pointers to new forms of urban design, and by working with and on behalf of their inhabitants, these places can be transformed and developed "from the bottom up into decent living environments".

Cities can help rather than hurt our planet
With congestion, pollution and urbanisation all presenting environmental threats recently highlighted at COP-17, are cities good or harmful to our future?

State employees now own stakes in top malls in SA
The Public Investment Corporation (PIC) has bought two property companies that give government employees and retired public servants stakes in some of SA's premium shopping centres.

Zimbabwe: Bulawayo battles housing backlog, unpaid bills
In an effort to clear a housing waiting list of 100 000, the City Council has embarked on a low-income housing scheme.

Parliament redrafts Rental Bill
The Parliamentary portfolio committee on human settlements has decided to redraft the proposed Rental Housing Amendment Bill so that it covers aspects raised by the department of human settlements and addresses the loopholes and ambiguities identified in the Rental Housing Act and the Rental Housing Amendment Act.

Cato Crest demolitions halted
The controversy around the flattening of shacks to build low-cost houses in the Cato Crest informal settlement in Durban has been amicably resolved, with eThekwini mayor James Nxumalo announcing that the demolitions are to be suspended.

Rent and regeneration in old Johannesburg
As South Africa's largest city struggles to house its growing population, a new apartheid is opening up in the social sector. The Johannesburg Social Housing Company (Joshco) is one of a handful of organisations aiming to turn around areas like Hillbrow.

Over 300 title deeds presented to Joburg beneficiaries
The Joburg Property Company on Tuesday presented about 305 beneficiaries with title deeds to the land they are occupying and four-roomed houses they secured through the reconstruction and development programme.

Families in Motsoaledi informal settlement living in fear of eviction
Ten families living in corrugated iron shacks on the outskirts of the Motsoaledi informal settlement near Johannesburg are living in fear over the threat of eviction due to development in the area.

Title deed delays fail goals of upliftment
Research by Urban Landmark has shown that South Africa is losing the opportunity to raise billions of rands as collateral on government-provided housing to nearly 1.5 million households since 1994.

Harare City Council and Central African Building Society seal U.S.$15 million housing deal
Harare City Council has signed an agreement with the Central African Building Society to build 3 102 core houses worth US$15 million in Budiriro. The houses, for low-income earners, will be built over a two-year period, with each of the four-roomed core houses costing around US$12 000.

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