Urban Land for Inclusive Cities

Informality is not only the poor management of cities, but the product of a dysfunctional urban land market

Urban land has been at the centre of DAG’s work over the last 37 years.

DAG’s work on land tenure security over the years has focused on direct project support, training on community land administration in informal settlements, housing cooperatives, resisting evictions and securing land rights for dispossessed and marginalised communities. This work has resulted in secured tenure rights for close to 27 000 people.

In 2010, DAG hosted a three-day conference entitled Re-imagining the City: Towards a New Urban Order which set the agenda for the social value of land and called for the state to critically re-think the way in which urban land is used and managed.
This coincided with the first Land Value Capture Course in South Africa hosted by DAG and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

DAG’s various advocacy campaigns on public land release have a long history in the organisation. This history has been complemented by extensive research and capacity development work with local government to mainstream innovative land tools and strategies, which, in turn, complements and supports our advocacy work. Our research has included work on Sustainable Medium Density Housing, Land Value Capture, Inclusionary Housing, Incentives for small-scale rental housing and Municipal Land Release.

National Land Value
Capture Programme

In 2020, DAG scaled up its work on Land Value Capture nationally through a tripartite partnership between DAG, National Treasury’s Cities Support Programme (CSP), and the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy (LiLP) to implement a multi-year National Land Value Capture Programme. Land value capture is a policy approach that enables communities to recover and reinvest land value increases that result from public investment and government actions. Land value capture is rooted in the notion that public action should generate public benefit.
12.2 ULIC National LVC DAG - AKH-03
12.3 UILC Public Land Release Pickwick

Public Land Release

DAG’s current advocacy work on the release of public land for affordable housing includes the call for the release of military land in Cape Town, in collaboration with other local NGOs. The release of three military sites would together would potentially see the cultivation of 67 000 affordable housing opportunities. Complementing this is evidence based research on the release of municipal land for affordable housing with a footprint in four of South Africa’s biggest metros.

Historic Projects

Over DAG’s 38 year history we have continually grappled with the question of land: how it should be used, how it should be managed, who should manage it, and who should benefit from it? Through hosting discussions on land and urban development and proposing new models of land reform and land use, DAG has continued to take the lead in proposing and theorising just, sustainable and impactful land use.

In June 2019, DAG submitted a paper on models of urban land reform to the Nelson Mandela Foundation (NMF). The paper aimed to propose a model to transform the urban landscape that wais immediately implementable. In this paper, DAG proposed an urban land reform model that was built on the government’s intent to leverage publicly owned land for the delivery of affordable well-located rental housing in South African urban areas. The proposed model requireds the state to boldly and proactively identify, pipeline and transfer under-utilised land, and potentially buildings, for affordable rental housing that serves low income and working-class households earning below R15 000.

In 2018, DAG facilitated a six-day training course on pro-poor Community Land Administration for the Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre (SLURC) and its local partners, which included the Ministry of Land and local civic leaders. The pro-poor land administration system proposed that an innovative pathway be applied alongside conventional approaches in the management of land through inclusive processes based on the wider ideals of good land governance.

In 2010, DAG, in collaboration with UN-HABITAT’s Global Land Tool Network (GLTN), hosted a three-day national conference entitled ‘Re-imagining the City: A New Urban Order’. Forty international and local experts on urban land management, democratic urban governance, land value capture and community-centered and medium-density housing came together to share experiences and lessons on realising the right to the city. Participants from Brazil, Thailand, Mexico, the Netherlands and Kenya; national, provincial and local government, and a cross-section of civil society representatives all attended the conference.

Medium Density Housing – A Resource Book is a publication that provides guidance on sustainable medium-density housing. It was authored by Anzabeth Tonkin (DAG) and published in 2008. The book provides an overview of medium-density housing, its benefits, and its role in sustainable development. It also covers topics such as measuring density, density as a standard, sustainable design, and a range of housing type and tenure alternatives.


pRogramme Highlights