Research Paper: Urbanization, Slum Formation and Land Reform: Papua New Guinea

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[. . .] 759). Despite regulating the inheritance, use, as well as occupancy of land, this same customary law is crafted in such a way that sale of land is not contemplated, specifically to those outside the kin group (Cooter, 1991). As a matter of fact, for a long time also, no individual has possessed the power to offer land for sale to outsiders. For this reason Papua New Guinea, as Cooter (1991, p. 760) observes could easily be "one of the last places on earth" lacking effective land markets, "not because they have been suppresses as in communist countries but because that have not been invented."

In basic terms, slum upgrading programs and undertakings concern themselves with the legalization and regularization of properties (in instances of unclear and insecure tenure) and provision of basic services. With regard to physical upgrading, we could have enhancements via installation of street lights, better solid waste collection and management services, enhanced water supply, electricity, drainage, and construction of footpaths and access roads. One of the solutions to the slum problem that has been proposed in the past, according to Florida (2010), is the creation of what the author refers to as holistic policies that not only encourage ownership as well as investment, but also further enhance the "quality of life without transferring benefits to slumlords or further driving explosive population growth…" As a matter of fact, some of the countries that have significantly contained slum growth, i.e. Egypt and Brazil, have policies that seem to have relied on a number of factors such as "efforts to increase the transparency and efficiency of land markets, to improve local governance, to increase public investments massively, and to increase the supply of cheap housing" (Florida, 2014). The relevance of adjusting land ownership systems cannot, therefore, be overstated.

It has been argued that slums, most particularly in developing countries, result from a weak/unenforceable property rights regime and a weak formalized titles system. In basic terms, formalized titles, as De Soto (1994, p. 3) points out, are "standardized instruments of exchange registered in a central system governed by legal rules….proof of ownership and protection from uncertainty and fraud." As the author further points out, formalization does play a critical role in incentivizing land investment. This is to say that slums should experience marked improvement if squatters and slum dwellers are provided with titles to their dwelling places. In addition to allowing security of tenure, this would turn out to be a huge incentive to invest in the said land. Essentially, land ownership remains one of the most fundamental resources when it comes to the extraction of capital. This is particularly the case given that title holders could make use the said titles as collateral to access loans or credit. According to Cities Alliance (2014), people are, essentially, more likely to invest in not only better homes, but also their community if they are granted safety from eviction, and as a result develop some sense of long-term stability. As time goes by, "these incremental improvements by residents can upgrade the entire community" (Cities Alliance, 2014). The relevance of backing-up land rights with a clear legal framework cannot, also, be overstated.

Currently, majority of the land rights in Papua New Guinea are claimed by customary land owners. Implementation of the reforms being undertaken will transform these customary land owners into landlords. As a result of the ensuing development and economic growth, it is likely that household incomes will experience marked increase -- and hence further improvements in not only housing but also access to basic services and loans. In the past, interest regarding land titling initiatives has gained significant momentum -- particularly in the urban slum settlements context. This is particularly the case after De Soto's interesting but informed assertion that most of the land occupied by slum dwellers is in most cases extremely valuable. However, most of those living in the said land have no claim of ownership as they do not have titles. For instance, we have Paga Hill Settlement which, according to the Asia Sentinel (2012) correspondent accommodates approximately 3000 people. This particular settlement "is situated on customary, or traditional land owned by the Lohia Doriga people in a prime location adjacent to Port Moresby's downtown business district" (Asia Sentinel, 2012). On the strength of the fact that the settlement stands on customary land, its value cannot be unlocked for meaningful development. For those who live here, theirs is essentially 'dead capital' and it is not until life is breathed unto the said capital, through the issuance of land titles, that things would change for the better. It is, therefore, time that some developing countries like Papua New Guinea embraced land-titling programs. The country is in the process of implementing a new and well-thought-out land reform undertaking whose aim is to see land for development mobilized. Some of the key items of the land reform include improvements in not only land administration, but in also settlement of land disputes. The customary land tenure is also under reformation. If successful, the land reform and land titling programs in Papua New Guinea are likely to result in the creation of investment incentives and further increase the chances of individuals or groups of individuals to access loans from formal financial institutions.

In the past, attempts to unlock customary land for economic and other business opportunities have not been so successful. For instance, established in the late 1970s, Special Agriculture and Business Lease -- SABL, despite being a noble and welcome development, was misused by unscrupulous persons, leading to skewed reduction of land held under customary tenure (Numapo, 2013).

Part 3

The Roles of Institutions Such as World Bank, UN-HABITAT and Cities Alliance in Formulating National Slum Upgrading Policies

Some of the most important actors in slum upgrading governance include, but they are not limited to international and multilateral organizations, non-governmental institutions, and both the local and national governments. It is important to note, from the onset, that governments in developing countries do not usually have resources for upgrading. Further, most governments, as Cities Alliance (2014) points out, "either do not have the planning tools to deal with the rapid urbanization that is happening, or the tools in place are not sufficiently responsive to the reality on the ground." Some of the more active international and multilateral organizations are; the UN Habitat, the World Bank, and Cities Alliance, Agence Francaise de Developpement, and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. Multilateral organizations such as UN Habitat and the World Bank have been active in the provision of grants and loans to national governments. The timely changes of the lending framework at the World Bank, to permit for lending beyond national governments are welcome. In essence, this will enable other entities such as county as well as municipal authorities to access funds for slum upgrading efforts.

The government of Papua New Guinea, according to Cities Alliance (2011), seeks to undertake in the strategic planning of urban growth so as to build capacity for better provision of services. This activity, as Cities Alliance further points out, is in support of the implementation of community-based settlement upgrading efforts, particularly targeting Port Moresby. Plans include ensuring that informal settlements are connected to city infrastructure via the formulation of what Cities Alliance refers to as the City Infrastructural Investment Programmes. It is expected that a new urban policy will be fed by the lessons learnt from this particular undertaking. Essentially, "the activity will be implemented by UN-HABITAT in partnership with the government of Papua New Guinea and the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights (ACHR)" (Cities Alliance, 2011).

Part 4

The Experience of Community-Led Slum Upgrading through the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC) and the Indian Alliance, and the Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI)

The relevance of community involvement in slum upgrading efforts cannot be overstated. It is important to note that it is the people living in slums that know the area well and have better understanding of their problems. In that regard, therefore, it would be prudent to seek their input and active participation as in addition to aiding in the development of a sense of 'ownership', this would enhance the undertaking's chances of success.

Community-led slum upgrading has been successful in a number of contexts. It would be prudent to highlight the experience of such upgrading efforts through the likes of Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), the Indian Alliance, and the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC).

Table 1

Organization/Partner/Social Movement

Examples of Community-Led Programs

Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC)

Community toilets programme (in an attempt to improve sanitation) - Pune, India.

Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI)

Mandaue 7 Cities Upgrading Program -- Mandaue, Philippines

Indian Alliance

The Sunnuduguddu Scheme -- Bangalore, India

The relative success of the social movements and organizations highlighted above could be replicated in Papua New Guinea, particularly in support of the country's National Urbanization Policy. This is more so… [END OF PREVIEW]

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