Research output: how Complex Land Markets influence spatial justice

simulated environment where students apply knowledge and skills
simulated environment where students apply knowledge and skills

The research project Spatial Inequality in Times of Urban Transition has been executed by a consortium of IHS, Erasmus University, DPU-UCL and IPE Triple Line, London. This research project seeks to develop an understanding of how the urban transition in four East African cities works within integrated systems of a given political economy in which Complex Land Markets (CLM) play a key role.

The main objective of the research is to understand how Complex Land Markets influence spatial justice. For this, we investigate the urban transition in 4 East African cities, Hargeysa and Berbera in Somaliland and Kampala and Arua in Uganda. This project falls under the East Africa Research Fund (EARF).

A number of interrelated research methods were used throughout the study (see figure 1), in order to answer the project’s research questions.

Alexander Jachnow, Carolina Lunetta and Els Keunen from IHS and Dorcas Nthoki were responsible for the design, implementation and analysis of the household survey. This survey, which seeks to provide a knowledge base of people's participation in CLM, employed the following research questions to guide data collection and analysis.

  1. How do selected households in each city engage in complex land markets?
  2. How are the spatial qualities distributed among the selected households?
  3. What factors contribute to a household’s choice of residential location and/or purchase of land?


Data Collection

The household survey was conducted following a spatial assessment, which allowed for sampling of households based on different housing or settlement types identified across each city. These were considered to reflect broad and general neighbourhood differences in terms of income distribution shared housing conditions and distinct outcomes in terms of individual households’ interaction with land markets and the related implications for social and spatial justice. In Kampala 2,846 households were interviewed, in Arua 1,764, in Hargeysa 2,389 and in Berbera 999 households.

The survey questionnaire was designed through an iterative process, with the involvement of experts and people on the ground. It was created in English and translated into local languages. The survey was administered using a tablet, which assisted in identifying the survey location and in taking the interview.

Data collection was done by local enumerators trained by the research team. The fieldwork in Uganda was done between May and June 2018 and in Somaliland between June and September 2018.

Preliminary Findings

Four dominant housing types have been defined in each of the 4 surveyed cities, reflecting a variation in socio-economic conditions found. Some preliminary findings of the household survey for Kampala will be presented below. These findings were disaggregated according to the different housing types.

Housing typology & Tenure type

Distribution of population by household income groups 

In Kampala, 31.31% of the 2,846 households interviewed are in the very-low-income group, 19.72% in the low-income group, 21.05% in the middle-income group and 27.93% in the high-income group. As in the chart above, the incomes groups correlate with the housing types as expected, although all income groups are represented to some degree in each of the housing areas.

Distribution of household heads gender by housing type

Women who are head of the household are more likely to be living in the low and very low-income areas, whereas this is the opposite for men who are household heads.


Tenure type by housing type

More than 50% of the households interviewed are renters, 34% - homeowners and 12% caretakers. A strong relationship between tenure type and housing type reveals that households in low-income areas in Kampala are more likely to rent property compared to households in high-income areas. Additionally, high-income areas are more likely to have caretakers as occupants.

Tenure type by household head gender

There is a strong relationship between gender and tenure type. Female-headed households in Kampala are more likely to live in owned property than male-headed households and more male-headed households are likely to be caretakers than female-headed households.


Rental Agreement & Ownership Document

Out of 1311 renters, only 26% (336) have a written agreement. Although weak, there is a significant relationship between housing typology and rental documents. Households in high-income areas more often have written agreement compared to households in other income areas. There is no significant association between gender and the type of rental agreement.


Out of 767 homeowners interviewed, almost 95% indicated having an ownership document. Nevertheless, only 45% reported having a registered title, representing a significant number of transactions in Kampala which are unregistered, and therefore may be unknown by state institutions. Of those who registered, nearly 75% were households in high or middle-income neighbourhoods. Major obstacles for lack of ownership document are high costs and lack of supporting documentation.


Property Availability & Acquisition

Ease of finding a property by housing type

Of the 2093 households interviewed, around 77% found it easy to rent or buy a property in Kampala. No significant association between ease of obtaining property among different housing types or household head gender was found. For those who expressed difficulty (8%), high prices and little availability of property were the main reasons that hindered their access to property.

Reasons that facilitate access by housing type

A strong association between housing type and the reasons for ease in obtaining property shows that households in lower-income areas found it easier to afford property as compared to higher-income areas. Households in the mainly middle-income areas found it easier to obtain property due to high availability than households in the lowest and high-income areas.

Property availability Kampala research

Means of acquisition by housing type

Most of the homeowners in Kampala purchased their property from a private individual (80%). The second most common means of acquisition is inheritance from the husband's side of the family (9%). A higher percentage of households in high-income areas are more likely to acquire property through customary allocation than those in lower income areas.

Perceived property value and investments in the property

Although only 32% of respondents said they had invested in their property, more than 90% of people believe the value of the property has doubled since they moved in.


Past move & intention to move

Location prior to moving

Information collected on past moves in Kampala shows that 27% moved from outside the city. Half of the respondents moved to their current location within the last 5 years. People renting have moved to their current location more recently.


Intended location of future move

When asked “Are you planning to move to another place in the coming 2 years”, 817 respondents (42%) responded positively. This is considerably more than the actual moving behaviour in 2016-2017, when 658 respondents (27%) moved, although it is important to note that intention to move and actual moving behaviour are quite distinct.

From the chart below, 86% out of those who intend to move would remain in an urban area in Uganda, out of which 62% would remain in Kampala.


Amenities present upon relocation

Clear differences can be observed between the housing typologies regarding the amenities present at the moment of relocation.

Satisfaction of the neighbourhood per housing type

Differences in satisfaction with the location (“How satisfied are you living in this neighbourhood?”) were anticipated depending on the neighbourhood conditions. However, a large majority (84%) is satisfied with their neighbourhood, seemingly regardless of their location.

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About the project: Spatial Inequality in Times of Urban Transition

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