What impact do land markets have on spatial justice?

Part of the EARF research team together with local partners

What impact do land markets have on spatial justice? This is the key research question in this new research project IHS executes in Somaliland and Uganda. This project falls under the East Africa Research Fund (EARF) and is executed by a consortium of IHS, Erasmus University, the DPU of UCL and IPE-Tripleline, London. Dr. Paul Rabe from IHS visited Somaliland last month to begin the research on Land Markets in Hargeisa and Berbera, Somaliland.

Marty Clark

photo by Marty Clark

Land markets play a decisive role in determining access to urban land. The research seeks to look into the processes of land acquisition and how the benefits and burdens of land markets are distributed across different urban inhabitants. The research will investigate ways in which institutions influence inequality and, more specifically, how the institution of complex land markets impact on spatial justice.

The research is being carried out in four cities in two countries; Hargeisa and Berbera in Somaliland and Kampala and Arua in Uganda. It seeks to explain the dynamics of urbanization in East African cities on their own terms and to analyse the links between governance, political settlement and “the city as a system” approaches in the four cities. The current phase of rapid urbanization calls for a shift in governmental approaches to the occurring radical changes by formulating policies that inform the management and development of cities.

The visit to Hargeisa and Berbera, part of the research’s first phase, is to carry out an assessment of the urban land markets which aim to give a clear picture of the roles of the different actors in urbanization, the trends in the land market and impact for the urban context. The findings will help to conclude on the different aspects and meanings of land, the mechanisms of its control, and who plays which role in making land markets work, especially with a focus on the urban poor.

The visit to Somaliland involved meetings with the Minister of National Planning, the mayor of Berbera and various local stakeholders both in Hargeisa and Berbera.

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Author: Dorcas Nthoki

Photo credit: Marty Clark