203 x 129 mm
Trading Places: Accessing Land in African Cities
By Mark Napier, Stephen Berrisford, Caroline Wanjiku Kihato, Rod McGaffin and Lauren Royston
Trading Places is about urban land markets in African cities. It explores how local practice, land governance and markets interact to shape the ways that people at society’s margins access land to build their livelihoods.
The authors argue that the problem is not with markets per se, but in the unequal ways in which market access is structured. They make the case for more equal access to urban land markets, not only for ethical reasons, but because it makes economic sense for growing cities and towns.
If we are to have any chance of understanding and intervening in predominantly poor and very unequal African cities, we need to see land and markets differently. New migrants to the city and communities living in slums are as much a part of the real estate market as anyone else; they’re just not registered or officially recognised.
Trading Places highlights the land practices of those living on the city’s margins, and explores the nature and character of their participation in the urban land market.
It details how the urban poor access, hold and trade land in the city, and how local practices shape the city, and reconfigures how we understand land markets in rapidly urbanising contexts. Rather than developing new policies which aim to supply land and housing formally but with little effect on the scale of the need, it advocates an alternative approach which recognises the local practices that already exist in land access and management. In this way, the agency of the poor is strengthened, and households and communities are better able to integrate into urban economies.
Professor Daniel Tevera, Head of the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Trading Places is a welcome addition to the critical literature that examines the intersection and collision of structure and agency in the operation of urban land markets in Africa. The authors deserve to be congratulated for producing a readable multidisciplinary book that introduces a fundamental discussion about the co-construction of urban spaces through land markets that are managed and articulated through a variety of governance regimes […] This book effectively highlights the hybridized ways used by the urban poor to access, hold and trade urban land, and how local practices shape the city. The well-researched arguments and the lucid style of writing make this book appealing. This book not only explains how problems around urban land markets arise but it also presents some innovative ideas on how to address them. However, if there is going to be a second edition of Trading Places it should consider providing more case studies and examples from other regions on the continent, especially West Africa where innovative approaches have been used by the poor to access urban land. Another lacuna in the book is the omission of an index, the inclusion of which would have enhanced ease of use. Finally, Trading Places is highly recommended for scholars of urban studies, urban planners, social scientists and policy makers.