PROCESSES IN DEVELOPING COUNTRY CITIES: THE CASES OF KIGALI IN RWANDA AND PHNOM PENH
FORCED EVICTIONS AND MARKET EVICTIONS
The global context: urban
poverty and slum populations
to recent UN estimates, 924 million people - nearly one out of three
urban dwellers – were living in slums in 2004. Of these, 874 million are
from low and middle-income countries (Millennium Project, 2005). Urban
poverty as a proportion of total poverty is clearly increasing: 43% of
the population of developing cities are living in slums (28% in North
Africa, 71% in sub-Saharan Africa, 42% in Asia and 32% in Latin America)
(Lopez Moreno, 2003 and UN-Habitat, 2003 b). By 2020, this figure is
expected to increase to 1.5 to 1.7 billion, depending on estimates.
Recent estimates (Cohen, 2004) suggest that about 2.8 billion will need
housing and urban services by 2030. The slum population is expected to
increase from 32% of the world population in 2001, to about 41% in 2030.
So far, no
satisfactory solution for addressing the challenge of slums has been
found. Conventional responses are usually based on the combination of
three main types of intervention: (i) in situ upgrading in
existing informal settlements; (ii) evictions followed by resettlement
on serviced sites on the periphery of cities; (iii) the preventive
provision of low-cost serviced plots for housing (UN-Habitat, 2003 b).
These responses have achieved limited results. Despite some major
successes where political will and continuity,
economic development and mobilization of resources in sufficient
quantities have made possible the implementation at the national level of
innovative policies for housing the poor (South Africa, Brazil, Tunisia,
etc.), scaling up remains a major problem. Most slum policies are simply
treating the symptoms and cannot be considered as structural and
sustainable policies. The Millennium Development Goal is to achieve a
significant improvement in the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by
2020 (Millennium Project, 2005). This target would represent only 6% of
the slum population in 2020.
and market-driven eviction processes
paper, based on a series of observations made in a large number of
developing cities throughout sub-Saharan Africa, South and South-East
Asia and Latin America over the last two decades, emphasizes two recent
case studies in Kigali, Rwanda, and Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It does not
deal with “forced eviction” processes, but with particular forms of
displacement, usually under the pressure of market forces.
dynamics accompanying the liberalisation of land markets in many
developing countries, and nationwide land titling programmes carried out
in the name of economic development and poverty reduction (World Bank, 2003) are increasing the market
pressure on urban low-income settlements, and this in a global context
where resources generated by economic growth are rarely allocated to
housing and resettlement projects for low-income groups.
Many of the
evictions that are resulting from these dynamics are not recorded as
such either because they do not require the use of force, or because
some form of compensation is paid to the displaced households,
regardless of how fair and equitable this compensation may be. This
frequently results in a deterioration of their economic and housing
conditions, and ultimately in the formation of new slums. This is what
we call “market-driven displacements” or, in some circumstances,
“market-driven evictions”. It concerns primarily informal settlements,
and especially “slums” as defined by the United Nations (UN-Habitat,
2002). It encompasses all situations where displacements are the direct
or indirect consequences of a development aiming to make a more
profitable use of the land.
evictions as well as negotiated “market-driven displacements” are
closely linked with market pressures, except in cases where evictions
are the consequence of expropriations for the public interest (need for land
for infrastructure), or are justified for safety or public health
reasons (sites exposed to hazards and/or unsuitable for urbanization).
Although no reliable figure is available, in most cities the scale of
market-driven displacements or evictions clearly overrides that of
In the case
of formal settlements, whether the occupant is a tenant or the owner of
his dwelling unit, evictions may take place if the occupant does not
comply with an administrative or a court expropriation decision. In such
cases, expropriated owners are entitled to receive compensation
corresponding to the market value of their property as assessed by the
administration and, in case of dispute, by a tribunal.
in informal settlements are in a different situation: their irregular
situation regarding planning, development and/or construction norms (in
the case of informal commercial land subdivisions) and, more
importantly, their tenure status, means that they are not entitled to
claim compensation for the replacement cost of their land and dwelling
unit. They can be evicted with or without compensations or resettlements
options. Evictions may follow formal/legal procedures. However,
empirical observations show that many evictions do not have full legal
basis, or are not carried out according to legal procedures.
of tenure security depends on evidence the occupants of any settlement
can provide. Occupants in informal settlements do not usually have any
real rights such as a property title or a lease. In many cases, other
documents such as administrative permits, deeds of sale, receipts,
invoices, and ration cards may be accepted as evidence of
quasi-ownership, but with a lower value than real rights or leaseholds.
cases, the terms of the negotiations between communities living in
informal settlements, public authorities and landowners or developers
can be considered as being fair: compensation paid or alternative
resettlement options offered to the households concerned do not result
in any significant deterioration in their housing conditions or
expenditures. This is usually the case when concerned communities already
enjoy some form of de facto security of tenure, have access to
information, benefit of political protection, and are able to mobilize
resources to protect their interests.
cases, however, especially when the tenure status of households or
communities does not provide them with sufficient protection against
eviction procedures, or when their incomes, their cultural background,
asymmetry in access to information, social status, or the prevailing
political environment does not provide them with sufficient protection,
the terms of the negotiations are distorted; their negotiating/bargaining
capacity is weakened and they tend to accept arrangements that will
result in a deterioration of their housing situation and welfare. This may also
be the case when households have been allocated land under the
administrative “permits to occupy” (PTO) regime, which is still the
most common occupancy status in sub-Saharan West African cities. With
few exceptions, PTOs are temporary documents, granted conditionally, and
they can be unilaterally revoked by the administration whenever it
considers that the permit holder has not fulfilled his or her obligation and/or
that it can make better use of the land.
those who have settled on land whose value has increased over time, and
who cannot provide sufficient evidence that their rights on the land
are exposed to “market evictions”, are not necessarily entitled
– in strictly legal terms – to be paid compensation corresponding to the
replacement cost of the dwelling unit in case of eviction. In such
cases, everything depends on the balance of power at the local level,
and ultimately on political decisions.
INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS, MARKET-DRIVEN DISPLACEMENTS AND EVICTIONS:
CURRENT AND TRENDS AT GLOBAL LEVEL
mechanisms and trends must be analysed with reference to the global
context of the persistent imbalance between demand and the supply of
land for housing, the scarcity of prime urban land for development,
increases in the market value of urban land, and increasing
commodification of informal land markets (Durand-Lasserve and Royston,
2002). Although there is a continuum between forced evictions and
market-driven displacements or evictions, each has its own specific
common cases of forced evictions in developing cities are commonly
observed in the following situations:
landowner who has, in the past, authorized tenants to settle on his land
now wants to develop it or to sell it to a developer. He refuses to
collect rents and asks the occupants to move out (case of inner-city
slums in Bangkok during the last thirty years).
investor buys land suitable for development from a private landowner
with the intention of developing it. If tenants or squatters already
occupy the land, and if the investor cannot persuade them to leave
through negotiation, he may obtain an eviction order from a court.
authorities launch an expropriation procedure, by power of eminent
domain, in order to build infrastructure or carry out urban renewal, or
a redevelopment scheme, or a beautification project.
authorities sell land to private investors from the State private
domain, which is already occupied by tenants or squatters (case of
cities in transition where land is being privatized, with pressure of
emerging land markets). The sale of public land aims to increase public
revenues in the absence of land taxation and other fiscal resources. The
Kigali and Phnom Penh case studies are a good illustration of such
authorities recover land that had been allocated to occupants under a
temporary PTO regime, in order to carry out a development project,
usually in partnership with private investors (case of sub-Saharan
African cities where the PTO regime still prevails).
these cases, occupants of the land will ultimately be exposed to forced
evictions. However, de facto security of tenure in informal
settlements usually provides protection against forced evictions, which
may compromise the success of legal actions to evict occupants, and may
force private investors or public authorities to negotiate.
market-driven displacements or evictions are usually the result of an
actual or anticipated investment in a property that is already
informally occupied, and which cannot be developed as long as it is
occupied. The aim of the investor is to buy the land or immovable
property at a price, which is a below-market price, and to sell it back at
a higher price with or without development. Four main factors bring down
the market value of the land: tenants or squatters already occupy the
land or the immovable property (this is the most common case); the
tenure status of the land being transferred is uncertain, and obtaining
a real right may require time and financial resources; the land is not
suitable for development because of its physical characteristics, or
existing land use regulations preclude development. If the investors
succeed in obtaining the required land rights or manage to carry out the
land development, or can expropriate or evict occupants (tenants or
squatters), such transactions may produce a higher profit/return than
that obtained in conventional development projects, where vacant land
suitable for urban development is purchased at normal market prices.
Market-driven displacements may also result from in situ tenure
regularization, settlement upgrading and basic service provision without
community organization or appropriate accompanying social and economic
measures (such as credit facilities, advisory planning or capacity
building at the community level), and this may give rise to increases in
housing expenditures that the poorest segment of the settlement
population is not able to meet. When combined with increases in land
values and market pressures resulting from tenure regularization, the
poorest households will be tempted to sell their property and settle in
a location where accommodation costs are less. This commonly observed
progressive form of displacement results in the gradual gentrification
of inner city and suburban low-income settlements.
Market-driven displacements are frequently observed when several types
of property rights coexist, and each has a different value, depending on
the type of protection it affords, with the result that the economically
weaker households are exposed to market pressures. This usually happens
when tenure situations are covered by a dual legal system, with various
forms of reinterpreted “customary” laws and practices inherited from the
pre-colonial period coexisting with “modern” laws (e.g. in Rwanda and
many other sub-Saharan African countries (Kreibich and Olima, 2002,
Durand-Lasserve, 2003), or when multiple forms of tenure status and
occupancy rights coexist (legal titles coexisting with other types of
documents with varying degrees of legitimacy, such as administrative
permits to occupy, deeds of sale, bills, ration cards, registration
books, etc.). Such
situations are common when there are no appropriate land records or land
registers, or when existing land-related information systems are not
available, or no longer operate because they have not been updated or
have been destroyed), thus leaving the way open to arbitrary
interpretations as to the legal basis of tenure rights. This happens,
for instance, when urban land and houses have been occupied in a
post-war emergency context by refugees or returnees without proper
government control, and when private ownership rights have been
introduced with insufficient regulatory measures following years of
State monopoly on land, as can be seen in former socialist countries
(Cambodia, Vietnam, China, etc.). Compared
with forced evictions, market evictions are usually a longstanding
process. However, they may also take place in a very short period of
time. The systematic land titling and registration programs currently
being promoted in many developing countries, with the objective of
setting up mortgage finance systems, securing investments and mobilizing
“dead capital”, may accelerate market eviction processes if they are not
incrementally implemented or accompanied by appropriate measures to
provide protection for the poorest households.
exposed to market eviction may be located on private or public land.
Those living on prime land or land located in areas suitable for
profitable housing or commercial development projects are particularly
vulnerable to pressures from the administration or investors, especially
if they do not have full security of tenure. Poverty and weak community
organization usually increase the risk of market eviction. In all cases,
households headed by women are more vulnerable to market-driven forms of
displacements or evictions than those headed by men.
no figures for market evictions. Although
forced evictions are well documented by an efficient network of NGOs and
slum dwellers’ associations – the Center on Housing Rights and
Evictions’ Global Survey on forced evictions in 60 countries found that
6.7 million people were evicted from their homes between 2000-2002 and
that 6.3 million were under threat of forced eviction in 2003) (COHRE
2004) – there are no figures for the scale of market-driven
displacements. Yet in cases that have been documented, the number of
market-driven evictions is much higher than the number of forced
evictions. Market-driven evictions are usually seen as a normal
consequence of urban development, as a kind of “creative destruction”,
as defined by economist Joseph Schumpeter, which necessarily accompanies economic
development and modernization processes. Another set of problems
encountered in attempts to identify the scale of market-eviction is the
lack of agreed definitions. As long as negotiations between the involved
parties take place, whatever the terms of the negotiation, eviction is
usually considered as a voluntary removal. To illustrate this, we shall
refer to recent observations made in two different urban, social,
cultural and economic contexts: Phnom Penh (Cambodia), and Kigali
TWO CASE STUDIES: KIGALI (RWANDA) AND PHNOM PENH (CAMBODIA)
Historical, social and
economic backgrounds are different in the two cities, but they share
and Rwanda have a national population respectively of 13 million and 8
million, both predominantly rural populations. Urban population represents only
20% of the total population of Cambodia, and just 16% in Rwanda. Currently
the capital cities of
these countries have a population of 1.2 million (Phnom Penh) and 0.7
million (Kigali). The annual rate of urban population growth is around 3.5% to
4% in Phnom Penh and 7% Kigali.
Approximately 80% to 85%
of the urban population lives in informal settlements in Kigali,
and 25% in Phnom Penh (250,000 people, scattered among 500 settlements:
squatters on public land and in the urban-rural fringe, slums on private
land, and rooftop dwellers). Tenants represent more than 50% of the
population of Kigali and about 20 to 25% of the population of Phnom
countries are characterised by the gradual re-introduction of property
rights in a post-war / post-genocide context (Cambodia between 1971 and
1975, Rwanda in 1994), which resulted in both cases in the destruction
of land registers and records. Following the war and the genocide, these
two cities have been confronted with the massive arrival of
“returnees”/war refugees. This phenomenon has had a major impact on the
land tenure and housing occupancy status of the population. In both countries, the
emergence of a land market was accompanied by the implementation of a
nationwide land titling and registration programme. The cadastre of
Phnom Penh is currently being set up and is expected to be completed
within 5 to 6 years. In Kigali emphasis is being put on the creation of
Geographic Information Systems (GIS), for planning and fiscal purposes.
Kigali, the land remains the exclusive property of the State. The
right to use, develop and occupy the land is granted by the government
under the “permit to occupy” regime. The State retains the eminent
ownership of the land and is entitled to take it back if leaseholders of
plots of land for housing in urban or suburban areas cannot develop the
land within 5 years, according to construction standards set out by
public authorities. In rural and suburban areas customary rights were
recognised, and the subdivision and allocation of land by customary
owners was either recognised or tolerated. Combined with self-help
housing construction, this gave rise in the 1980s and early 1990s to the
rapid extension of large urban low-income settlements. In 1994, 80% to
85% of the population of Kigali was living in these so-called
“precarious” settlements. The adoption of the new Land Law in November
2004 did not put an end to the State monopoly of land, but recognised
private land ownership, and opened the way for a privatisation of land
Penh, private property was abolished by the Khmer Rouge regime which
was in power from 1975 to 1979, and the population of Phnom Penh was
forcibly displaced to rural areas. From 1979 onwards, following the fall
of the Khmer Rouge, the city was gradually reoccupied. All property
rights prior to 1979 were abolished. Those working for the new
government were allowed to settle in vacant land and abandoned buildings
in Phnom Penh with their families. They were granted only a right of use
but were allowed to transfer their land or dwelling unit by inheritance.
They did not have to pay rent, but they had – in principle – to register
with the government authorities and they received a “card” that
authenticated the legitimacy of their occupation. The land and house
remained the property of the State. According to the 1981 Constitution,
“no one is permitted to buy, sell, mortgage or lease land” (Art. 17).
However, during the 1980s, one could observe the development of an
informal property market, which included the subdivision and sale –
without titles – of apartments in city centre buildings. Increased
population pressure, combined with insufficient land and housing supply,
led to the accelerated development of squatter settlements in Phnom
Market-driven displacements and evictions in Kigali
1991 and 2002, the proportion of the urban population jumped from 6% to
17% of the total population of the country. This increase is due to the
combined effects of natural growth, rural-to-urban migrations, and the
return to the country, mainly to Kigali, of Rwandan refugees living in
neighbouring countries (Perouse de Montclos, 2000).
during the last five years, about 48,000 people have settled in Kigali.
This would require an annual provision of 8,500 dwelling units, in
addition to the units needed to cope with the existing
1994, the supply of urban land for the low-income population was mainly
provided by “customary owners” on the urban fringe. Government
authorities tolerated these practices and, especially in the late 1980s
and early 1990s, tried to streamline and regulate them by implementing
some regularization projects (République Rwandaise, 1987). The new
Government that came into power following the 1994 genocide did not
recognise the customary land market but did not suggest any alternative
policy for housing the poor, and took a series of actions to prevent the
formation of new slums. This situation is now resulting in growing
pressure on existing informal settlements, mainly for rental housing (République
du Rwanda, 2004 b).
and housing development policy currently implemented by the City of
Kigali is pushing the majority of the urban population into illegality.
Until the new Land Law adopted in November 2004 is implemented, land
remains the property of the Sate or, if it lies within the City of
Kigali administrative boundaries, of the City of Kigali, which allocates
land required for any development project (République du Rwanda, 2004
and construction norms and standards are an obstacle to the provision of
land and housing for the low-income groups. According to the National
Housing Policy defined by the government (République du Rwanda, 2004a),
the only settlements recognised as legal are “planned” settlements, as
opposed to “spontaneous” ones (République du Rwanda, 2004 d).
areas, any development must be based on an approved “development plan”.
Any other development is considered illegal. Individual housing
constructions are authorized on land leased by public authorities,
provided they conform to the same set of norms and standards. Few
households can manage this, and most have no choice but to rely on
informal land markets, and are thus exposed to eviction. At present,
restrictive planning and development standards are directly responsible
for the exclusion of 75% to 80% of households from legal access to land
upgrading projects are envisaged in a limited number of settlements,
most are not entitled to regularisation because they have not been
developed according to formal norms and standards, especially regarding
the minimum plot size required. The main objective of the City Council
is rather to carry out urban renewal projects in order to make prime
land in the central and peri-central area available for development
(Republic of Rwanda, 2002).
Expropriations and evictions result from the combined intervention of
public authorities and private investors. The city of Kigali evicts
households from irregular settlements in order to carry out
infrastructure, development and urban renewal projects, especially in
the central part of the city. Expropriation can also take place in
formal settlements that have not been developed according to official
norms and standards.
insecurity, due to the risk of expropriation by the public authorities,
can be added the insecurity caused by the pressure of the market on
urban and suburban land; informal settlements may be the target of a
development project initiated by private investors (individuals,
associations, cooperatives, developers) who can obtain approval from
City Hall for a development project on a site already informally
occupied, and negotiate the “voluntary departure” of the occupants or
their eviction. City Hall only intervenes if the parties cannot reach
agreement on the amount of compensation to be paid. Compensation paid by
private investors will later be deducted from the price of the land
that investors will have to pay to obtain a land title, after the development
project is completed.
practice generates a large number of conflicts; in 2003, 96% of
conflicts brought to the attention of the national ombudsman concerned
land tenure, and of these 75% concerned Kigali. Eighty
percent of households in Kigali are thus potentially exposed to this
form of expropriations or market-driven evictions. According
to official sources, about 1,280 households were evicted and paid
compensation by City Hall in 2003 and 2004. If the number of households
evicted by City Hall represented only 1/3 to 1/4 of displacements
following private investor interventions, as estimated by the City
authorities, then the total number of evicted households over the last
two years would be in the range of 3,840 to 5,120, corresponding to a
population of 17,300 to 23,000 persons.
The compensation issue is a key dimension of market
eviction processes. The compensation paid to households corresponds to
the cost of the dwelling unit built on the plot, as assessed by the City
Council, but not the cost of land, which remains the property of the
State or of the City of Kigali. In the case of eviction by public
authorities, or of displacement initiated and negotiated by private
investors, the compensation paid is based on the rate laid down by the
City Council in 1996, not updated to reflect rising values.
resettlement of displaced or evicted households on serviced plots might
be an appropriate response. However, the provision of serviced plots
does not meet the demand. In cases where resettlement sites have been
identified, the size of the plots, the administrative transfer costs
incurred, and the amount of rents and the norms and time frame imposed
for their completion are far beyond the ability of the displaced
households to pay.
Low compensation is paid to households
displaced or evicted from informal settlements, as it only takes into
account the cost of the development (buildings or crops). There is no
compensation for the land itself. Moreover, only households who own
their dwelling (42.7% of households in Kigali in 2002) can receive
compensation. Those who rent (47.2%) receive nothing at all and are
therefore in a much more precarious situation. The cost to the
households of gaining access to another dwelling unit is very much
higher than the amount of compensation they receive. For example, in
2004, the minimum cost of a dwelling unit constructed according to the
minimal norms recognised by the authorities is 3 million Frw,
to which must be added the annual land rent. Between January 2002 and
July 2004, the average amount of compensation paid to evicted families
was less than 0.7 million Frw.
If the rate
were to be revaluated, the city of Kigali would not have the required
resources to compensate and resettle expropriated households. The risks
and negative impact of the land and housing policies currently being
implemented in a context of land market privatisation must be
highlighted, as they may result in the large-scale transfer of land that
currently belongs to the State to high-income groups and investors, thus
increasing the risks of massive market-driven evictions.
registration systems, which give a much higher priority to the question
of tenure regularisation and access to ownership than to security of
land tenure, tends to worsen the situation. There is therefore a risk
that it will only be accessible to those who can afford it, thus
benefiting the richer households while penalising the poorest, as
registration is on a voluntary basis and depends entirely on the ability
of the individual to bear the cost.
resettlement alternatives offered to evicted households are worsening
the impact of market eviction processes. The practice of eviction
without fair compensation or without offering resettlement options is
creating a population of homeless families. The current land and housing
policy implemented in Kigali has resulted, in the last few years, in the
departure of a large number of evicted families who have settled in
small urban centres outside the City of Kigali's administrative
boundaries. However, there are a certain number of factors that limit
the magnitude of the eviction drive: most urban land still remains the
property of the State, thus limiting the development of a speculative
land market; there are still limited investment capacities in formal
housing development, and conditions for the emergence of a property
development sector are still far from being in place; and, for social
and political reasons, the city services do show a degree of restraint
in carrying out evictions.
eviction processes in Phnom Penh
Khmer Rouge regime, all private property was abolished in Cambodia and
most documents were destroyed. After the fall of the Khmer Rouge in
1979, returnees to Phnom Penh were selectively authorized to occupy
buildings on a first come, first served basis and were given a
“temporary permit” by the authorities, but all property remained in the
hands of the State. (Fallavier, GRHS, 2003). The right to own land was
reintroduced in 1989, allowing farmers to claim possession rights to
plots of up to 5 hectares, and households to obtain ownership titles to
residential plots of up to 2,000 sq. metres.
onwards, the government took a series of measures to address land issues
and ensure efficient land privatisation and management: enactment of the
1992 Land Law; recognition of the right to ownership of legal private
property by the National Constitution of 1993; the decision to issue land
titles, in 1995; and adoption of the Statement on Land Policy in May
2001 with the objective "to strengthen land tenure security and land
markets, prevent and resolve land disputes" and "to promote land
distribution with equity".
in practice only two types of documents used for claiming land ownership:
receipts, acknowledging a person’s claim to land, and certificates,
which are state authenticated documents certifying land ownership.
However, "land transactions involving certificates constitute only a
small proportion of total land transactions". "Even though only a very
small proportion of the population (at country level, both rural and
urban) has official title to their land, people have been actively
transferring land … on the market" (Sik, 2000). Sales agreements that are
signed and stamped by District chiefs are considered by most people as
official enough to certify the ownership transfer. Lack of clarity
regarding land titles and rights is increasing the vulnerability of
small landholders in the rural-urban fringe of Phnom Penh to market
pressures. A recent housing survey (Ministry of Land
Management, Urban Planning and Construction, 2003), points out that,
while 71% of those surveyed indicated that they owned their land, only
5.4% had a land certificate. A majority of people believe that if they
are occupying land without conflict or controversy it is legally theirs,
irrespective of whether they formally possess land papers." (Chan and Sarthi, 2002).
the number of households living in informal settlements has rapidly
increased, thus limiting their capacity to accommodate any additional
population. Three surveys over the last ten years by Solidarity for the
Urban Poor Federation (SUPF, 2003), a local Community Based Organisation
(CBO), confirm this trend: 130,000 people were living in 187 poor
communities in 1994; 375,000 were living in 569 poor communities in 2003.
Poor communities include squatter settlements on public or private land,
and settlements where low income families have a recognised occupancy
status that gives them some security of tenure but no ownership rights.
(2004) identifies, from the least to the most secure, nine types of land
tenure in the current situation in Phnom Penh: (i) pavement / mobile
dweller; (ii) unauthorised occupation of state public land; (iii)
unauthorised occupation of state private land; (iv) unauthorised
occupation of private land; (v) family registered book; (vi) court order
after dispute; (vii) government concession; (viii) certificate of
possession; and (ix) certificate of ownership.
most land and property transactions have taken place outside formal
market procedures over the last ten years, free access to land and
housing is becoming much less frequent than in the 1990s. All
observations confirm the increasing commodification of informal markets.
The survey carried out in 1994 by the Urban Survey Group (USG), a local
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), for the Municipality of Phnom Penh,
indicates that 58% of the households in informal settlements had paid to
be allowed to settle, and 42% had free access to the land or dwelling
unit. Another survey carried out in 1998 indicates that 61% of
households had to pay the previous occupants to buy or rent their dwelling
unit (Clerc & Rachmuhl, 2004).
forced evictions carried out by the Municipality of Phnom Penh for the
construction of infrastructure or city beautification projects
accompanied the development of squatter settlements in Phnom Penh
between 1990 and 1996. Evicted families were rarely given compensation
or resettlement options. Evictions were also initiated by private
investors/developers on land occupied by households who could provide
some form of documentation. The land would then be sold to the developers,
but the price paid to occupants depended on the “value” of the documents
they were able to provide. This procedure involved thousands of
families, combining forced evictions and market-driven displacements
attitude of the public authorities gradually evolved under pressure from
local and international NGOs. Between 1996 and 2001, more than 6,000
households benefited from 160 small-scale slum upgrading projects. A new
“concerted resettlement policy” was gradually defined and implemented by
the Municipality of Phnom Penh between 1998 and 2003. About 9,000
households were relocated to 21 sites on the urban fringe of the city.
Land was provided by the Cambodian Government or the Municipality of Phnom Penh,
and infrastructure construction and service provision were usually
funded by foreign aid agencies. Initially, concerted resettlement
projects concerned only a few households. However, between 2001 and
2003, the number of resettlements increased drastically in order to
respond to an emergency situation: 5,000 out of 7,000 households were
relocated, without proper agreement, following fires of criminal origin
in several poor settlements in Phnom Penh.
quantitative terms, the concerted resettlement policy was unable to cope
with the demand from low-income families: it resettled 1,800 households
per year, but during the same period, informal settlements had to
accommodate 5,000 additional households per year. In May
2003, just before the elections, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced the
Government’s commitment to put an end to evictions and to launch an
ambitious programme aimed at upgrading 100 urban poor settlements per
year over a five-year period. This would mean that nearly all of the 569
poor settlements identified in Phnom Penh in 2003 would benefit from
this programme. The announcement was enthusiastically welcomed by NGOs
and federations of poor communities in Phnom Penh as a major political
victory. (Community News. UPDF. Issue N°2 , June 2003 a & b).
nearly two years, the in situ upgrading policy has achieved very limited
results. None of the four in situ redevelopment projects based on land
sharing had been completed in January 2005. Negotiations between
community representatives, public authorities and investors took much
longer than expected. Profitability objectives were pushed to the fore,
to the detriment of social priorities, and land sharing turned into a
form of public-private development partnership.
last five years, intense land speculation and a spiralling increase in
the market price of land in urban and suburban areas have accelerated
large-scale market-driven displacements or evictions at the city level. The
sub-decree on Social land concession would – in principle – enable
displaced households to be resettled (Royal Government of Cambodia,
2003) and could be seen as an appropriate alternative for those
households that could not benefit from in situ upgrading projects.
However, implementation is not possible because no public land has been
made available for such projects, and the public authorities do not have
sufficient resources for land acquisition.
Market-driven displacements and evictions are taking place in a context
where the Government of Cambodia and the Municipality of Phnom Penh have no defined
policy regarding public land reserves, and where public land cannot be
made available in sufficient quantities for low-cost land or housing
Government of Cambodia and the Municipality of Phnom Penh own large
tracts of land on the periphery of the city that could have been used
for resettlement projects (Ministry of Land Management, 2003). However,
the inventory of public land reserves – especially of land owned by
Ministries – and their use for resettlement has always been problematic
in Phnom Penh, with profit-making development projects competing
increasingly with socially-oriented ones. In many cases, the proceeds of
the sale of land of the private domain of the State by government
administrations and government agencies are not returned to the
Treasury. Sharp increases in urban land prices encourage these
inner-city settlements are usually located in prime areas with a high
commercial value. For this reason, investors are exerting steady
pressure on Municipal authorities to develop these areas. In some cases,
development projects can be based on land sharing or any other form of
public-private partnership. In other
cases, development projects will require the displacement of the
community. This can be an eviction, but it is usually presented as a
voluntary or negotiated displacement. The terms of the deal will then
depend on the negotiating ability of the community or households
concerned (including organizational and lobbying capacity,
political protection, and tenure status).
A recent illustration of
pressures brought to bear on informal settlements concerns the case of
the Koh Pich area Community, which lives on public land that the Canadia
Bank and its parent company the Overseas Cambodian Development
Corporation wants to develop: while independent appraisal indicates that
the land on Koh Pich is worth a minimum of US $24-26 per square meter,
the current offer by the city to compensate residents is at the rate of
US $2.50 per square meter (East-West Management Institute’s Human Rights
in Cambodia, 2005).With no public land reserves being made available for
low cost projects on the urban fringe of the city, poor households do
not have affordable resettlement options if they move out of their
inner-city settlement. Thus, the new in situ upgrading policy
implemented from May 2003 onwards, although seen and presented as a
major success by NGOs and poor community federations, in fact had an
unexpectedly perverse effect by restricting access opportunities to
alternative resettlement sites.
eviction also concerns rural households on the periphery of Phnom Penh.
Interviews carried out in Sangkat Chon Chao, Khan Dank Kor,
in March 2004 confirm this dispossession process. Sangkat sources
estimate that between 40% and 50% of the farmland in the Sangkat has
already been sold off by small landholders to foreign and local
investors, mainly during the last five years.
forced sales have also been reported in the Sangkat in cases where
landholders were unable to provide a property title. This is a common
situation, as many households who received land in the 1990s believed
that they enjoyed sufficient security of tenure and did not apply in due
time for a property title.
MAIN IMPLICATIONS AND POLICY RESPONSES TO MARKET
evictions are considered a normal phenomenon, as long as they result
from market mechanisms and are not “illegal” with regard to
international legislation. Yet they concern tens of millions of
households in cities throughout the world (they also concern rural
populations, especially when titling programmes are implemented).
a forced eviction as a “negotiated displacement” is usually seen as
“good governance” practice. It is less risky, in political terms, than a
forced eviction; it is less brutal and accordingly less visible as it
can be achieved following individual case-by-case negotiations. Most
observers consider that the very principle of negotiating is more
important than the terms of the negotiations, especially regarding the
compensation issue, even when the compensation is unfair and detrimental
to the occupant.
context, there is a need for a better understanding of the mechanisms
and processes involved in market eviction or market-driven eviction. So
far, a great deal of attention has been paid to forced eviction issues
and the relationships between various forms of removal, evictions, and
resettlements. In order to assess policy responses to market evictions,
it is necessary to identify those mechanisms and legal and regulatory
frameworks and tools that could help to limit or streamline market
eviction processes are tending to replace the forced evictions that
prevailed in the 1990s, with similar effects on the poorest segments of
the communities concerned. Although no figure is available at the global
level, empirical information clearly indicates that the magnitude of
various forms of market-driven displacements now surpasses that of
forced evictions. This can be seen and interpreted as a normal
phenomenon: it forms part of the natural dynamics of change in every
city. The arrival of better-off households in poor urban settlements may
have a positive impact on local economic development, may generate new
employment opportunities and increase potential for further
At the city
level, a high rate of economic growth may have two
contrasting/conflicting types of impacts on urban informal settlements.
On the one hand, new employment opportunities and increases in earned
income must be considered as a precondition for poverty reduction and
consequently for improving the housing situation for the urban poor. On
the other hand, it may have a negative impact as it is usually
accompanied by rapid increases in land prices, and market pressures on
informal settlements located in urban areas suitable for development,
thus accelerating the pace of market-driven displacements or evictions.
The land development strategies employed by property developers, land
tenure and land market patterns on the periphery of the city, combined
with the steady increase in the price of urban land are drastically
restricting any room for manoeuvre available for housing the urban
poor. If they have some form of secure tenure, they are in a good
bargaining position and may be tempted to sell their property. If they
do not, they are vulnerable to pressures from investors and will be in a
weak position to negotiate and obtain fair compensation.
proper resettlement options, fair compensation and/or appropriate
accompanying measures, market-driven displacements or evictions have two
main impacts: (i) they lead to the establishment of new informal
settlements on the periphery of cities, far away from city centres,
where informal land markets still operate and can provide low-cost
accommodation arrangements; (ii) they tend to increase population
pressure and density in informal inner-city settlements that are not –
or not yet – targeted for development. This usually results in a
deterioration in housing conditions and/or increases in housing
expenditure and commuting costs for displaced households. Thus policy
responses to market-driven displacements and eviction processes should
focus on three main sets of issues: access to land for resettlement
programmes, compensation, and accompanying measures for communities
benefiting from in situ upgrading programmes.
little attention has been paid to making land for resettlement
programmes available to displaced or evicted households. One major
bottleneck is the availability of land – especially of publicly owned
land – for resettlement. In most cities, lack of transparency in the
management, use and allocation of public land reserves favours the upper
segments of the demand, to the detriment of the low-income groups,
through various forms of public-private developments where commercial
objectives override socially oriented goals.
issue of compensation is at the core of market eviction processes and is
itself linked with: (i) the market value of the titles/evidence
provided, which determines the ability of poor households to resist
market pressures and negotiate fair compensation; (ii) the role and
practices of government institutions involved in land management and
administration; (iii) the role of courts and tribunals, and (iv) the
role of NGOs and CBOs. The amounts of compensation paid should be
reassessed in context of accelerated commodification of land markets
and increases in urban land values. In most cases, resettlement grants
or compensation paid to displaced or evicted households do not
correspond to the replacement cost of the dwelling unit, but to its
value as assessed by government. This rarely incorporates the cost of
land, nor does it take into account the actual market value of land in
alternative resettlement sites in suburban areas.
measures, procedures and tools can limit market pressures on informal
inner-city settlements. These include various forms of protection
against forced and market-driven evictions (such as the Special Zones of
social interest in Brazilian cities), simplified planning procedures and
a revision of norms and standards. Especially in informal settlement
upgrading (tenure upgrading and the provision of infrastructure and
services), incremental processes should be promoted as
they leave communities time to adapt to new situations and be less
vulnerable to market pressures (United Nations, 2003 a, Christiansen
and Werner, 1999).
both resettlement programmes and in situ upgrading, particular emphasis
should be placed on tenure issues. Security of land tenure must be
dissociated from access to land ownership, and a wide range of
alternatives to individual land ownership should be made available in
order to limit market pressure on poor settlements (Durand-Lasserve,
Fernandes and al., 2002). In many cases, collective rights should be
provided rather than individual rights, at least for a certain period of
time, in order to limit pressure from investors on those settlements
that are being regularized (Payne, 2002).
organisation is a key element for limiting the negative impact of market
pressure on poor communities, as it usually gives them better
negotiating or bargaining powers. It is
a prerequisite for participatory planning and for the implementation of
accompanying measures in cases of slum upgrading or of displacement and
resettlement. In this respect, the action of national and international
NGOs is of particular importance for the advocacy planning services and
legal advice they provide to community-based organizations (Mitlin &
Satterthwaite, 2004, Imparato and Ruster, 2003).
a Senior Research Fellow at the National Center for Scientific Research
(CNRS) in Paris, France, and a member of the Board of Directors of
Global Urban Development. He works with the SEDET Research Center at the
University of Paris-Denis Diderot. He has written many articles and
reports, and is co-editor of Holding Their Ground: Secure Tenure for
the Urban Poor in Developing Countries. He works as a consultant for
international aid and development agencies in many African and Asian
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