Category Archives: Projects

Macedonia knowledge transfer programme

Funding body: European Agency for Reconstruction Commissioned GPA by GNV

Objectives: The objective of the training is to enable participants to:

  1. Analyse the existing urban situation in their respective municipalities;
  2. Create a structured approach to urban planning;
  3. Identify options for stimulating investment in the local economy;
  4. Identify options for increasing the participation of relevant stakeholders.


Geoffrey Payne was appointed by VNG International, based in the Hague, Netherlands as a Senior Planning Expert on an EU funded knowledge transfer programme (TRAIN) in Macedonia. The project required Geoffrey Payne to prepare a curriculum for a series of training programmes delivered to staff representing all 85 of Macedonia’s municipalities.

The project commenced in March 2005 and Geoff was involved from July, when he visited Skopje for two weeks to prepare the course curriculum. This was followed by another two week visit in November to train local trainers in delivering the curriculum, though this was adapted in discussions to ensure it was appropriate to meet local needs and conditions. The actual delivery of the training was carried out during three assignments of four weeks each between January and April 2006.

Each assignment involved spending four days in each of four main urban centres, Skopje, Bitola, Gostivar and Stip, during which selected staff from local municipalities attended the courses. The fifth day of each week was spent either travelling between centres or evaluating the completed week and preparing for the coming one. During the first cycle, key issues of urban planning and development were introduced. This was based on the fact that Macedonia had been part of the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia until 1991 and most of the senior professionals responsible for urban development have limited awareness of the role of planning in a mixed economy.

A series of lectures, workshops, seminars and exercises were there organised to help increase awareness of policy options and ways of realising them. The fact that many municipalities had populations of less than 10,000 people and the only large city, Skopje, had a population of over 500,000 required a flexible approach to planning roles. This module covered issues such as the Urban planning in a market economy, preparing an urban development, enhancing participation, securing the strategy and a general evaluation. During the second four week cycle, the programme moved from principles and policies to specific issues. Following a recap of the first module, issues covered included the planning base, preparing the strategic framework, assessing the regulatory framework, a site visit and regulatory review and an evaluation. All these were carried out in each of the four urban centres and with the active contribution of the local trainers.

During the final four week cycle, the programme began with a short recap of the second module and then a gaming simulation exercise was carried out to enable participants to not just assimilate the ideas introduced, but to apply them working in groups. After this, lectures and seminars discussed ways of preparing a strategic urban plan and identifying priorities for implementation. Geoff wrote a paper on urban planning in Macedonia. To download it click here.

Geoff’s input to the TRAIN programme was one of six modules addressing all key aspects of urban development. He worked with several colleagues to deliver a programme which sought to enhance the ability of local professionals to meet the challenges facing the country as it seeks to develop towards entry into the European Union. Geoff made many good friends throughout the country, especially among the project leader Tony Armstrong, the TRAIN office team and his interpreter Ali Ibrahimi, his trainers, Dusica Angelkovic, Gordana Trenkoska and Besnik and wishes them and the participants all the best in the future. Whilst in Macedonia, Geoff also joined the local flying club, for details of which click here. Geoff’s contribution to the TRAIN project ended with participation in a national conference in July 2006, which presented the work of the participants on all modules as a basis for action by the newly elected government.

Improving Tenure Security for the Urban Poor – Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Funding body: Funded jointly by Cities AllianceUN-Habitat and GTZ .

The project followed on from a research project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to assess the tenure situation facing the urban poor in Phnom Penh during March and April 2002. The subsequent project has sought to develop innovative approaches to providing secure tenure for the urban poor in Phnom Penh as part of the capital’s social and economic development strategy. It has adopted an incremental approach to increasing formal tenure status and property rights to all informal settlements for a short initial period, during which surveys would identify those settlements considered suitable for in-situ upgrading and those which would need to be relocated. For those settlements to be upgraded, the objective has been to integrate them into the formal tenure system over time, in order to minimise speculative pressure, protect tenants from rapid rent increases and minimise distortion in land markets.
The main objectives of the project are to:

  1. Improve security for urban low-income households in Phnom Penh by offering residents of informal settlements in environmentally hazardous or economically strategic locations, Temporary Occupation Licenses (TOLs), and those in other areas longer terms of tenure security.
  2. Undertake a regulatory audit or review of the present urban planning regulations, planning standards and administrative procedures to identify options for reducing the cost of entry to legal and affordable shelter, thereby reducing the need for future slum formation;
  3. Identify available sites for Guided Land Development or other innovative approaches within the present urban boundaries to which households in environmentally hazardous or economically strategic locations can be moved before the expiration of their TOLs, unless applications to extend these are agreed, in which case such relocation will be on a voluntary basis. Residents of areas where TOLs are allocated will be encouraged to participate in the planning and form of such new developments;
  4. To strengthen the capability of central and local government agencies to undertake pro-poor programs for upgrading and new urban development.

Duration: March 2003 – October 2004

Project outputs:

  1. Four project reports (Inception, Workshop, Progress and Final Reports).
  2. Design and undertake settlement survey of informal settlements to identify those suitable for in-situ upgrading and those for relocation.
  3. Recommendations on changes to tenure system. A Summary of these recommendations can be found in ‘Getting ahead of the game’ (G.Payne) Environment & Urbanization Vol 17, No 1 April 2005.

In 2001, research carried out on tenure issues in Cambodia by Geoffrey Payne and Dr Beng Socheat Khemro demonstrated the potential for innovative approaches to improving tenure security for the urban poor. On completion of the project, a request was made by the Royal Government of Cambodia for assistance in developing practical options for improving secure tenure and a proposal was submitted to Cities Alliance, UN-Habitat (Fukuoka) and GTZ (Cambodia) for funding. This was approved and work commenced in March 2003

The project is based on research undertaken as part of an international research project funded by DFID with support from UN-HABITAT to assess progress in the provision of secure tenure for the urban poor in ten countries. Cambodia was one of the major case study countries, together with the Philippines, and fieldwork for the research was carried out in Phnom Penh during March and April 2002. The research demonstrated that there is a wide range of land tenure and property rights systems in Phnom Penh each of which forms part of a continuum in terms of the degree of security and rights they provide. It also demonstrated that the present policy of relocating residents of unauthorized slum settlements has increased poverty by removing poor households long distances from the central locations in which they earn their livelihoods. It has also discouraged households able to afford improvements from doing so. A subsequent workshop involving representatives of central and local government, international donor agencies and local civil society groups accepted that a range of alternative approaches deserved to be tested to see if they could meet the needs of the urban poor, whilst encouraging investment in the city and improving its environment. The research report presented some initial proposals to the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Development and Construction and the Municipality of Phnom Penh.

On completion of the project, a request was made by the Royal Government of Cambodia for assistance in developing practical options for improving secure tenure and a proposal was submitted to Cities Alliance, UN-Habitat (Fukuoka) and GTZ (Cambodia) for funding. This was approved and work commenced in March 2003. This subsequent project was intended to build on the City Development Strategy currently in its final stages.
The project comprised proposals for four phases, as follows:

  1. Phase 1: Undertake a regulatory audit or review of the present planning regulations, standards and administrative procedures affecting access to legal shelter.
  2. Phase 2: Identify existing unauthorised settlements in environmentally hazardous or economically strategic locations and identify available sites for Guided Land Development projects.
  3. Phase 3: Issue Temporary Occupation Licenses and detailed plans prepared for a Guided Land Development.
  4. Phase. 4: Reports prepared on research studies in Siem Reap and Battambang and Guided Land Development. Workshops to be held and final reports prepared.

The project recommended that security of tenure be increased on an incremental basis for residents in informal settlements on selected state private land as well as state public land. The reason for this incremental approach, rather than the conventional approach of providing full individual titles to households in informal settlements was to prevent a dramatic increase in land values within inner city settlements. This was considered undesirable in that it would:

  1. Encourage many residents to sell their houses, probably for less than their new value to developers and speculators
  2. Encourage such sellers to invade other state land in an attempt to repeat the process
  3. Increase rents or lead to the eviction of existing tenants, who represented the poorest social groups
  4. Place an excessive burden on the existing administrative agencies responsible for surveying informal settlements and issuing titles.

For these reasons, an initial Moratorium on Relocations and Evictions (MORE) was proposed in order to guarantee residents in all informal settlements a minimum period of security for a period of up to nine months. During this period, criteria were developed and surveys carried out to identify any informal settlements which would need to be relocated because they are on land needed for a public purpose, or which is environmentally unsuitable for housing. Discussions were held with the relevant authorities to confirm the list. However, the Municipality considered that residents may interpret a moratorium as providing longer term tenure and the proposal was not adopted.

Following this decision, it was proposed to move directly to the second stage of providing a Communal Land Right (CLR) to designated informal settlements to be upgraded in-situ as part of the RGC policy announced in May, 2003 of upgrading 100 slums a year for five years. It was intended to introduce this in selected settlements during late 2003 and early 2004. This would have enabled the project objectives of providing practical improvements to tenure security to be realised within the project period and provided a framework for introducing longer term tenure arrangements (Communal Land Titles) within a five year period covered by the CLR. Any household still wanting to obtain individual titles would be free to do so provided they resolved any competing claims, agreed borders with their neighbours and paid the associated survey and registration costs.

After many discussions with key persons responsible for the legal framework on land issues at the Ministry of LMUPC, the conclusion was reached that a CLR could be issued once a sub-decree on registering urban poor communities was approved. Since Cambodia has no such sub-decree, it is recommended that this be drafted and approved by RGC as soon as possible.

Capacity Building in Land Administration, Housing and Urban Development – Maldives


Funding body:

World Bank and Maldives Housing and Urban Development Board (MHUDB)


The objective of the project was to assist the Government of the Maldives to prepare a strategy and plan of action to improve the legal and regulatory framework for land and housing markets. The assignment focused on institutional and capacity building in the areas of land management, land property rights, urban development, and housing policy and markets. The project team consisted of four international consultants led by Geoffrey Payne and sought to advise and assist in the establishment of the essential legal and regulatory structure for urban land management in the Maldives; designing reforms for regulatory administrative procedures; and, contribute to preparing a strategy and action plan for the implementation of the broad reform program. The project focused on institutional and capacity building in the areas of land management, land property rights, urban development, and housing policy and markets.

Duration: 14th April 2001 – 13th April 2003

Project outputs:

  1. Administrative and institutional reform of the legal and regulatory framework governing land administration and management including property registration and land information systems;
  2. A housing and urban development strategy for the Maldives, including urban planning and development tools and market oriented mechanisms for private sector participation; and
  3. The international training of five key executives to be nominated by GOM.

In addition, Geoffrey Payne organised a study tour of India for senior GOM executives.


The Maldives consists of 1,200 small coral islands in the Indian Ocean. The population (270,000 people) is growing at an annual rate of 2.8% and is concentrated on 200 islands. Eighty islands are used as tourist resorts, tourism being one of the country’s two main industries, the other being commercial fisheries. The main urban centres suffer from excessive overcrowding.

General institutional capacity levels, particularly in all areas of the public sector, are low and the country depends on expatriate labour force. The government recognises the urgent need for institutional capacity at the middle and upper levels of its administration, particularly in the areas of housing and urban development.

The efficiency of the current urban system is low, partly due to the unique physical environment, and partly due to an inappropriate legal framework and inefficient urban and housing policy tools. The lack of appropriate laws, regulations and procedures for land (alienation, allocation, transactions and limited uses of property rights), as well as urban planning and development control tools, inhibits effective attempts to address the pressing development needs of Maldives. The ineffective use of scarce land translates into very severe overcrowding and unaffordable housing units. Private land ownership has not yet been established in Maldives, neither is there a functioning land market with a transparent market valuation mechanism to improve resource allocation. Difficulties are encountered in registering transfers of land ownership. With the exception of a few plots of privately owned land, the state owns all the land and allocates plots to its residents free of charge. There are no set criteria or procedures for land alienation, nor are there incentives to stimulate a land market through private initiatives.

Regulatory guidelines for affordable shelter

Funding body:  Department for International Development (DFID). KaR project number R7851.

Aims: To improve knowledge among stakeholders responsible for providing urban land, shelter and services, on regulatory frameworks which can reduce entry costs to legal and appropriate shelter for the urban poor.

Duration: 1st September 2000 to 31st March 2004

Project outputs

  1. A manual containing a methodology for assessing the costs, specific planning standards regulations, procedures and options for reducing entry costs to officially sanctioned developments.

  2. A film of the Lesotho case study by TVE for use in training courses and transmission on the BBC and other networks (as appropriate).

  3. Training materials for use in urban development agencies, training institutes and NGOs, etc on simple methods of assessing the cost of existing regulatory frameworks and ways of improving them.

  4. Online publications of findings and recommendations at key stages in the project

It is difficult to reduce the scale of poverty by increasing incomes. However, considerable improvements can be achieved by reducing committed expenditure on major household items such as access to land, shelter and essential services. The costs of legal shelter are significantly influenced by official planning standards, regulations and administrative procedures, which frequently impose costs which low-income households cannot afford. This forces many people into unauthorised settlements which reduces security, inhibits access to credit and exposes them to additional social, financial and environmental costs. Many of these standards, regulations and procedures are inherited, or copied from other countries, outdated, or just inappropriate and lead to neither equity nor efficiency. The project will review the social and economic costs of key variables, such as plot size, road reservations, density levels, land use regulations and the time taken and steps involved in obtaining development approvals, in both formal and informal settlements in the selected countries. It will also identify and address constraints to reducing access costs for low-income groups to shelter, enabling them to retain a larger proportion of existing incomes. Priority options for further reducing costs will then be tested in local projects and disseminated widely for consideration in other countries. Inappropriate planning standards, regulations and procedures

  1. raise the costs of legal shelter;

  2. inhibit social cohesion and economic activity;

  3. waste land;

  4. discourage private sector participation;

  5. encourage unauthorised settlements and;

  6. encourage corruption.

Previous DFID funded research on public-private partnerships revealed that regulatory frameworks frequently restrict access by low-income groups to legal shelter. Analysts and officials have also acknowledged that research is needed to show which standards, regulations and procedures need to be revised to make access to legal shelter more affordable to the urban poor.

The project seeks to reduce costs and increase choice for low-income urban households to appropriate and affordable shelter. Low-income urban households are increasingly unable to avoid market based costs for land, shelter and services, so any reductions which can be made to such costs through reforms of the regulatory framework will effectively increase their disposable incomes. Studies will be made of households in unauthorised and officially approved settlements to identify the key variables affecting shelter costs and alternative options acceptable to the poor. These will then be tested in new urban projects in collaboration with local authorities and monitored to assess acceptability to all stakeholders. Which cross cutting themes (i.e.: gender, environment, sustainability) will be addressed by this project

The needs of women and other vulnerable groups are central to the research and will be assessed in studies of existing behaviour and future preferences. The environmental impact of existing urban planning regulations, standards and administrative procedures in terms of the land area required for urban expansion into peri-urban areas and agricultural land will be estimated and options identified for regulatory frameworks to reduce the ‘environmental footprint’ of urban growth. The study will explore options for increasing options for compact, mixed land use urban developments, reduce pollution and make public transport more viable. Economic sustainability will be improved by reducing the costs of entry to legal settlements based on market costs for land, construction and services provision. The likelihood of social conflicts is also expected to fall as standards of living rise.

Key publications include ‘Making Common Ground’ (G Payne, editor, IT Publications 1999), Hernando de Soto ‘The Other Path’ (Taurus 1986), Angel A ‘The Land and Housing Markets of Bangkok’ (PADCO, Washington DC 1987), Durand-Lasserve A ‘Articulation between formal and informal land markets in developing countries: Issues and trends’ (mimeo 1987), Dowall D and Clarke G ‘A framework for reforming urban land policies in developing countries’ (World Bank 1991), Farvacque, C and McAuslan, P ‘Reforming urban land policies and institutions in developing countries’ (UMP World Bank 1992) have all stressed the need to review regulatory frameworks. The project will build on this literature and provide empirical data on specific changes, plus guidelines for assessing issues and options in other contexts.

Land Tenure for the Urban Poor

Funding body: Department for International Development (DFID).


To review and disseminate examples of innovative, intermediate tenure systems and their impact in improving security of tenure for urban low-income groups and reducing distortions in urban land and housing markets.

Duration: 1st April 2000 – 30th June 2001


The following were produced as outputs of this project:

  1. A book reviewing major examples of innovative tenure systems and their impact in improving security for the urban poor, planning and land management and tenure security. The book was launched at the World Urban Forum at UN-HABITAT, Nairobi in Appril/May 2002 and at a Cities Alliance seminar on “Secure Tenure for the Urban Poor” in Washington DC in May 2002
  2. A documentary Film (transmitted on BBC World television in June 2001) as a contribution to the United Nations Istanbul +5 Conference.
  3. A video version of the film in VHS and BetaMax formats in English, French and Spanish (available from TVE International, mail TVE distribution for information on delivery).
  4. An information or media pack entitled ‘Land Rites’ for international distribution to media networks, NGO’s etc.


Security of tenure, or the lack of it, is emerging as a key factor in the ability and willingness of poor households to protect themselves from the threat of forced evictions, or to invest in improving their living conditions. Recent approaches have varied between the extremes of removing unauthorised settlements or granting residents full freehold titles to their plots. These approaches impose further suffering on the poor, or grant them windfall benefits which distort land markets and may even encourage further unauthorised subdivisions. Various intermediate forms of tenure, such as Certificates of Use, Community Land Trusts, ground rent, condominium titles and transfer development rights, have been introduced to increase rights and security without intensifying land market distortions. These appear to offer improved security without raising expectations and can be implemented without recourse to legislative or administrative reforms. However, no comprehensive evaluation of the performance of such progressive, intermediate systems in practice has yet been undertaken. This project reviewed the extent to which key examples have improved perceived security and encouraged local investment in dwelling and settlement improvements.

Security of tenure for the poor has been recognised by the United Nations as one of two issues (with governance) which will form the key issue for UN-HABITAT’s future programmes. These include a new Global Campaign for Secure Tenure and should be seen as the strategic entry point for the effective implementation of the Global Plan of Action for the Habitat Agenda and considers that legal recognition of tenure is one of the most signifiant steps that a national government ran take towards giving expression to the right to housing. The research provided a survey and assessment of innovative approaches which was presented at the UN Istanbul+5 meeting in 2001.

Security of tenure is a basic requirement in enabling the urban poor to survive and also improve their economic status within increasingly market based land markets. Providing households with appropriate forms of tenure security which are affordable to the poor, and protect the rights of tenants, women and other particularly vulnerable groups, is a prerequisite to reducing poverty and providing access to employment and essential services. Which cross cutting themes (i.e. gender, environment, sustainability) will be addressed by this project

Gender was a central concern of the project, as many women are denied access to security of tenure on equal terms to men, even though a substantial proportion of households in many countries are now female headed. This severely disadvantages both women and their children from obtaining secure accommodation. The provision of affordable and secure shelter can reduce the need for poor families to settle in environmentally sensitive or hazardous locations and therefore improve the urban and peri-urban environment. Effective tenure systems can also enhance economically and socially sustainable urban development. The project reviewed intermediate forms of tenure which seek to address these issues and assess the extent to which they have succeeded and offer lessons for other locations. It also identified the cultural and institutional factors which need to be considered when transferring such approaches from one context to another.

Public-Private partnerships in land for housing

Funding body: Department for International Development (DFID). KaR project number R6541.

Research in this area has concentrated so far on partnerships in the USA and UK. Within developing countries, little work has been carried out on partnerships in land provision or development, except for land pooling, land banking and land readjustment. The research, by case study, assesses and compares a wide range of innovative approaches and their potential for application in other countries. Low income households are aimed at as the main beneficiaries, by providing them with affordable access to legal land for housing. Government agencies in the case study countries and others also stand to gain from the increased awareness of Public-Private partnerships and the options that are available to them.

Duration: 1st April 1996 – 31st December 1997


  • A report cataloging and assessing major examples of intermediate tenure systems and their impact in improving security for the urban poor, planning and land management and tenure security. The report was submitted as a contribution to the UN Istanbul+5 conference.
  • A book covering the design and implementation of a wide range of partnerships for the efficient and equitable use of urban land. The book has been published under the title ‘Making common ground, edited by Geoffrey Payne.

To date, most research on Public-Private partnerships in developing countries has concentrated on the provision and maintenance of infrastructure. Research on innovations in land provision for housing has been limited.

The study involved primary research in five countries, however a number of additional studies were commissioned by local experts in Mexico, Bulgaria and Russia and the UK. Each of the case studies had the potential of being developed as replicable models for further application.

The Egyptian case study documents ways in which residents of informal housing subdivisions work with the local authority to provide commercial areas and social facilities. In some cases, local authorities have been known to construct scattered buildings on agricultural land in peri-urban locations, to guide subsequent development by land-owners and developers. Once the areas has been developed to an adequate density, services are then installed. At the same time, local communities agree informally on the planning conventions, rights and obligations regarding the development of individual sites. In this way, illegal subdivisions are becoming subject to local authority regulations, if not control.

The Indian case study assesses CIDCO’s Participatory Development Scheme for bulk land development and the use of Transferable Development Rights for making land available for public amenities. It also assesses the Cochin Integrated Development of Islands Programme, in Kerala, in which developers are invited to quote for a parcel of land following the agreement of the project agency to construct bridges and other infrastructure. The costs of these works are then recovered from the increased revenue generated from the completed developments. Other examples within India will also be assessed in terms of their ability to provide housing for low-income groups, provide infrastructure and amenities and integrate Project Affected People into development projects through direct partnerships.

The Pakistan case assesses the well-known Khuda-ki-Basti project in Hyderabad and the ways in which the approach in being applied in Sindh and other provinces. It expands on the previous studies of the Khuda Ki Basti project by assessing the ways in which local authority action seeks to build the capacity of local communities to undertake developmental works under their own control. This reinforces the technical, financial and managerial strengths of communities and seeks to enhance local community leadership. Other examples, in which public agencies are learning lessons from the activities of illegal developers (called ‘dallals’) will be analysed.

The South African project involves a Public-Private partnership in central Cap Town relating to a high density project in Woodstock. It was developed as a demonstration project to show how the task of the reconstruction and development of South African cities could be achieved through higher densities and social integration. The partnership was between a non-profit housing utility company and the Cape Town City Council. Other examples of innovation in other parts of South Africa will also be assessed where possible.

The emphasis of the project was to assess the lessons learned from the case studies and identify their potential application in other contexts.