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Urbanization, the Crisis of Slums and the Myths and Mysteries of Property Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa

Over 60 percent (200 million people) of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa lives in extreme poverty in slums, the highest rate in the world. The slum population is projected to increase with rapid urbanization. Although the World Bank, other global financial institutions and developing country governments advance urban land titling and formal recognition of occupancy as the solution, empirical research in Sub Saharan Africa is scarce, the evidence has serious methodological problems, and is typically context-specific, making the findings equivocal. The project will conduct new field research in Nairobi, Kenya and Luanda, Angola and draws on research already carried out in Cape Town, South Africa and Lusaka, Zambia.  In Nairobi the government provided housing opportunities to the poor using low–interest mortgages for low-income households living in a section of Kibera. There were over 600 beneficiary households, while another 6,000 eligible households remain. In Luanda, about 50,000 former residents of a slum known as Chicala were moved to a temporary relocation area called Zango. The relocation happened in 2012. The government of Angola has been building social housing projects to provide Zango residents with new social housing opportunities. Others in slums such as Wenji Maka and Paraiso Musseques (slums) are not beneficiaries. The research project will take advantage of the situation as a phased-in natural experiment where some households that benefit earlier are compared to those that benefit later.The project employs a mixed methods approach, employing both questionnaire surveys and in-depth qualitative interviews at the two sites. The project will contribute to empirical evidence on the effects of property rights in Sub-Saharan Africa and build policy-relevant knowledge on global Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 - Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.