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From policy to institution: implementing land reform in Dar es Salaam’s unplanned settlements

Manara, Martina (2022) From policy to institution: implementing land reform in Dar es Salaam’s unplanned settlements. Environment and Planning A, 54 (7). pp. 1368-1390. ISSN 0308-518X

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0308518X221107380


Tanzania led the wave of land reform in sub-Saharan Africa, promoting ‘institutional fixes’ of property rights to stimulate urban development and poverty alleviation. Since 2005, the Residential Licence programme has offered short-term leases to around 180,000 households in the unplanned settlements of Dar es Salaam. However, the rate of title acquisition has been moderate to low, as in much of urban Africa. To understand the demand for land titles, this paper adopts an institutional approach and a novel analytic framework examining social expectations around the Residential Licence and their effects on choices of formalisation. Primary data was collected through a two-round survey with 1363 and 243 respondents, respectively. The paper finds that landholders have conditional preferences for formalisation based on the behaviour of their neighbours and the advice of other landholders, local leaders and higher-level government. Interactions between state and non-state actors generate social expectations that compliance with the programme is low and the government is not committed to enforcing interim property rights. These beliefs discourage choices of formalisation and transform the Residential Licence into an ‘empty’ institution, which fails to embed in social practice. The study contributes to the literature on land tenure formalisation by examining the interaction of state and social forces in the implementation of land reform and by proposing a complex understanding of the demand for tenure formalisation, underpinned by collective choice considerations. Additionally, the paper offers a methodological contribution by adopting a novel method for institutional analysis with further potential applications in urban studies and geographic research.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2022 The Author(s).
Divisions: Geography & Environment
Date Deposited: 28 Jul 2022 15:00
Last Modified: 18 Apr 2024 00:54

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