Causes of Informal Settlement

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In developing countries, approximately one billion people (30-70 per cent) live in disgusting, generally overpopulated and unhealthy areas, the so-called informal settlements, with the poorest physical facility, socioeconomic situations and ecological deprivation (Cortemiglia, 2006). It is expected that this amount will upsurge to 1.5 billion by 2020 and 2 billion by 2030, if not urgent action is taken. In some countries, the percentage of people living in unauthorized settlements is far greater than in official land and housing markets (UN-Habitat, 2003). A remarkable number of inhabitants in urban and rural areas have no option but to settle in ridged iron sheds or mud-and-thatched huts lacking interior water system, power, and other amenities, with little or no right of entry to education, healthcare and other public facilities. Each informal settlement, though, is distinct in that it has its specific history, community, and distinctiveness, and it is hence not easy to generalize about a subject that concerns all developing countries nearly without exemption.
This section is divided into six portions corresponding to the purposes of the research. The first portion deliberates on the perception of informal settlements, the second section on the reasons for informal settlement, the third part on the relationship between informal settlements and sustainable urbanization, the fourth part on the relationship between informal settlements and urban land management, the fifth part on the empirical review and the sixth part of the analytical framework.

 Informal Settlement

It is difficult to find a clear definition of informal settlements. Various synonyms have been used in the literature to denote informal settlements. These include ―spontaneous, irregular, unplanned, marginal and squatter settlements. In some of these works, the term « slum areas » and « informal settlements » has been used interchangeably‖ (UN-Habitat, 2003), while a flawless meaning of informal settlements remains vague. Some organizations have given explanations of informal settlements and slums. The UN-Habitat (2003) categorizes informal settlements into two: ―Squatter settlements – settlements where land and/or buildings have been occupied without the permission of the owner, whereas Illegal land development – settlements where initial occupation is legal, but where unauthorized land developments have occurred (e.g. Change of land use that breach zoning plan, building extensions without building permits, subdivisions without regard to services and infrastructure, etc.)‖ (UN-Habitat, 2003, p. 82).
UNCHS offers a similar description. Informality denotes (1) unlawful occupation of land (2) non-conformity with building codes and infrastructure standards (3) both the illegality of the land in which a house is constructed as well as non-compliance of the house to building standards and codes (UNCHS, 1996). In many countries, informal housing is observed in squatted or on peri-urban areas that are divided illegally. The settlements are identified by different terms in different countries: Barridas (Peru), KachiAbadis (Pakistan), Camping (Indonesia), shanty towns (English-speaking Africa), Favela (Brazil), Bidonville (French-speaking Africa), etc. What is common for all informal housing, regardless of their country, is:

  • They are built by residents themselves with very little public support, often despite eviction threats from public authorities. The houses are built with intentions of owner occupation, renting or both.
  • They are largely built by low-income urban residents who see prevailing formal channels that offer them barely any convincing choices.
  • Houses are mainly built with informal financing techniques, i.e. loans from friends or family, inheritance, land or jewellery sales and savings in informal credit unions (Malpezzi & Sa-Adu, 1996).
  • Use local building materials, skills, designs and home-grown know-how.
  • They do not follow formal/legal building codes and regulations, especially during the early stages of the establishment.
  • They show significant variations in building types and quality. Some houses are of high quality, built with concrete blocks, corrugated iron, aluminium, zinc or tin. Others may consist of traditional rural building materials.
  • They are built in steps, which guarantee the flexibility of the builders/owners.

World Bank differentiates slums and Informal settlements (IS). Slums comprise older areas of existing cities undergoing deterioration and decay but IS also includes the poor and precarious housing and environment near the CBD, within the city or on the city fringes or other areas where lands are vacant, accessible and affordable. They constitute an expression of poor urbanization and poverty of city dwellers as well as « … failed policies, bad governance, corruption, inappropriate regulation, dysfunctional land markets… » (World Bank, 1999).
Since this research is primarily concerned with land tenure and land management, the term informal settlement is preferred. The definition of informal settlements that is adapted for the purposes of this research is unplanned settlements and areas where housing is not in compliance with current planning and building regulations i.e. unauthorized housing. Informal, or spontaneous, settlements are settlements whereby persons assert land rights to or occupy for exploitative land which is not registered in their names, or government land, or land legally owned by other individuals (Kibwana, 2000).*
Due to the inherent unauthorized status of informal settlements, the needs of the communities living in these settlements are enormous. Informal settlements normally experience low levels of services and infrastructure such as water, sanitation, electricity, roads, drainage, schools, health centres, marketplaces, etc. Water supply, for example, to individual households in informal settlements may be absent completely, or available from few public or community standpipes. Informal settlements are consequently areas of increasingly high risk with regard to health, fire, and crime.
Perry, et al., (2007) cited in Fransen and Pieter (2008) classified informality into two, exclusionary informality, when businesses and households are driven into informality by poverty; and voluntary informality, when businesses and households opt to be informal, based on a cost-benefit analysis (Fransen & van Dijk, 2008).

 Causes of Informal Settlement

In most developing countries, the formal market mechanism has systematically failed to satisfy the rapidly increasing housing needs of the population. It is estimated that between 30 and 70 per cent live in ‗irregular‘ settlements with a growing tendency (Durand-Lasserve, 1997), according to UNCHS (1996, p. 337), 64 per cent of the housing stock in low-income countries and up to 85 per cent of newly produced housing is unauthorized. Self-help housing has long been seen as detrimental to sound urban development and orderly Planning. In the last two decades, it is increasingly recognized as the only means available to fulfil the immense demand for mass housing in the cities, and thus a solution rather than a problem (UNCHS, 1996).
According to Van Asperen and Zevenbergen, growing lack of land for low-cost housing, due to the rate of urbanization and commercialization of agricultural economies, resulted to informal tenure (Van Asperen & Zevenbergen, 2007). In Melanesian cities and towns and Nairobi, the origin of informal settlements was related to colonial laws that restrict movement and suspension of this law after independence and poor performance of the economy afterward (Chand & Yala, 2008; Lamba, 2005).
For Berner (2001) it is economic restructuring driven by global competition and often accompanied by Structural Adjustment Programmes, which is destroying many of the jobs and forces an increasing number of people to eke out a living in the informal sector.
Cities still serve as safety valves for rural economies which are doing even worse: ―Most people flee to the cities because no matter how life there may be, it is generally better than the rural one they are leaving behind. Their new homes may be squalid shanties without plumbing or heat. But at least in the cities, they have an opportunity‖ (Berner, 2001, p. 227).
Poverty and informal settlements are inextricably linked as it is widely acknowledged that poverty is a major driver of both the establishment and entrenchment of informal settlements, with the majority of the urban poor located in informal settlements (see, for example, (UN-Habitat, 2009; Jones, 2011). Informal settlements have originated from difficult problems of housing, immigration rates, politics, physical planning, landlessness, and unemployment in urban areas. In particular, they originate from the existing gap between the number of regular dwellings supplied and the need (Yapi-Diahou, 1995). There is a strong correlation between informal settlements and informal economic sectors as well (Badshah, et al., 1991).
The urban fringe pressures on landowners and families, some as unwilling partners as they are consumed into the growing urban footprint. Pressures include land speculation and opportunism, leading to the ‗sale of lands‘, often without the consent of wider clan and family members. In this setting, informal and formal land dealings are used as a conduit to earn income and appease short-term poverty and day-to-day hardship concerns (Chand & Yala, 2008).
People who migrate to urban areas face considerable incentives to locate in informal settlements. For example, such settlements often have unregulated access to water and electricity, and land prices are considerably lower than what the formal settlements require. Informal urban settlements with the poorest households are often located on marginal land, including river banks, steep gullies, and mangrove swamps, and/or on land with disputed ownership. The implicit value of such land relative to its immediate surroundings is low and so the perceived risk of eviction by the landowner(s) is low. Settlements in such locations, however, are at a greater risk of being affected by natural disasters such as flooding (Chand & Yala, 2008).
There are several complex statutory requirements for establishing a formal settlement in major urban areas such as Port Vila, Honiara, Port Moresby and Suva (Jones, 2011). Not surprisingly, the private sector has not taken up the challenge of making land available for housing for low-income households. The costs of registering land and building in compliance with statutory requirements for residential housing is well beyond the capacities of the average citizen.
Nabutola (2004) stated that ineffective housing policies, among others, have contributed to the expansion of informal settlements in Kenya. In some cases the policy may not adequately address issues of housing for the poor, at other times government may attribute the problem to severe budgetary constraints, delays of implementation and lack of commitment.
Results of a study done in Ethiopia on urban land and informal economy reveal that urbanization and deficiencies of the public land management (especially the land allocation process) have led to the evolution of informal housing markets (Gondo, 2010). Major determinants of informal housing in this analysis include chronic poverty, shortcomings associated with the social housing programmes, unrealistic urban land use regulations and standards, bureaucratic tendencies as well as the informal economy itself.
Dowall (1991, p.2) in Fekade (2000) stated that informal settlements are manifestations of problems pertaining to government‘s public policies. The policy ambiguity, procedural complexity and the prohibitive cost involved in obtaining documents (titles) which legalize ownership of urban land has forced the urban land market to further proceed in an ‗informal’ or ‗illegal’ way.

READ  Knowledge Management

 Influences of Urban Land Management on expansion of Informal Settlement

Land Management is the process by which the resources of land are put to effective use (UNECE, 1996). Dale identifies three key attributes of land that every country must manage – its tenure, value, and use. He further states that access to information on the ownership, value, and use of land helps to achieve the social and political objective. In ensuring that land management is practiced; land administration is key (Dale & McLaughlin, 2000). The UNECE (1996) defines land administration as ‗the process of determining, recording, and disseminating information on ownership, value, and use of land when implementing land management policies‘.
Land management is a key to urban development due to its influences on the social, economic development and urban environmental management. Land and housing are important sectors as urbanization and urban development accelerate.
In the words of Plessis (2008) land use management is utilized to establish an orderly and well-regulated development. Land use management ensures:

  • Security of use (through the right recorded in the municipality‘s land use scheme);
  • Security of investment (through regulating all land uses in the development to ensure orderly, harmonious development that does not have any negative impacts);
  • Security of tenure (through a proper land allocation system such as township establishment); and
  • Value (the rights recorded in the municipality‘s scheme add value to a property).

In rapidly growing cities of developing country, distorted land markets and ineffective urban land management often have resulted in the degradation of environmentally fragile land; occupation of hazard-prone areas; loss of cultural resources, open space, and prime agricultural land; and excessive urban sprawl. An important challenge is to achieve a balance between urban development and environmental protection, taking into account linkages among land use, poverty, and the environment (Büthe & Milner, 2008).
Weak land administration and in particular inefficient land registration processes, corruption and red tape make urban land unavailable for about half of the urban dwellers and businesses. Hence, the phenomenon of parallel informal land allocation is widespread and is responsible for the alarming rate of informal settlements and related loss of revenue to the municipality (Serbeh-Yiadom, et al., 2008).

1.1 Background of the Study
1.2 Statement of the Problem
1.3 Research Aim and Objectives
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Limitations of the Study
1.6 Structure of the Dissertation
2.1 Introduction
2.2 Informal Settlement
2.3 Causes of Informal Settlement
2.4 Influences of Urban Land Management on expansion of Informal Settlement
2.5 Implication of Expansion of informal settlement for environmental management
2.6 Review of Empirical Literature
2.7 Analytical Framework
2.8 Summary
3.1 Introduction
3.2 The Study Area
3.3 Research Approach
3.4 Research Design
3.5 Sampling Technique
3.6 Methods and Instruments of Data Collection
3.7 Dependent and independent variables of the study
3.8 Analysing Mixed Methods Data
3.9 Confirming the Trustworthiness and Consistency of the Study
3.10 Ethical Considerations
3.11 Summary
4.1 Introduction
4.2. Urbanization in Bahir Dar
4.3 The Present Urban Landholding System
4.4 Informal Settlement, Valuation, and Compensation
4.5 Informal Settlement and Housing Policy
4.6 Summary
5.1 Introduction
5.2 Rapid Urbanization, Rural to Urban Migration and its Strain on Capacity of Cities
5.3 Urbanization, Poverty, and Informal Housing
5.4 Housing Demand and Supply
5.5 Some limitations in urban leasehold policy
5.6 Summary
6.1 Introduction
6.2 Informal Settlement and Urban Land Management Practices
6.3 The Influences of Land Management Policies and Practices on the Prevalence of Informal Settlements
6.4 The Implications of Expansion of Informal Settlements on Housing Supply and Environmental Management
6.5 Summary
7.1 Introduction
7.2 Summary and Conclusions
7.3 Knowledge Contribution of the Research
7.4 Policy Implications

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