Informal land investments and wealth accumulation in the context of regularization: case studies from Dar es Salaam and Mwanza

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Between half and three-quarters of new housing development in African cities has been taking place on land acquired through informal channels. This paper offers insights from a study of self-builders’ investments in informal land and housing in Dar es Salaam and Mwanza, two of the largest and fastest growing
cities in Tanzania. The findings demonstrate that self-builders’ investments
in informal land and self-built housing are inextricably linked with household
wealth accumulation processes and long-term security. In light of the research
findings, the paper offers reflections on the potential impacts of ongoing land
formalization processes. The paper argues that the informal housing system has far more advantages than appreciated by proponents of formalization, that the vision of bringing “dead capital” to life is misleading, and that the anticipated emergence of active formal markets for land and housing may not serve the needs or interests of low- and middle-income households.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEnvironment and Urbanization
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)89-108
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020

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