City dwellers’ room for influence in focus for NAI’s new researcher Jenny Cadstedt
Jenny Cadstedt is since August part of the urban research cluster at the Nordic Africa Institute. She will carry out research on urban planning. Her special focus is on land formalisation and settlement upgrading in Tanzania.
”A lot is happening in urban Africa, towns and cities are growing rapidly,” says Jenny Cadstedt. “There is a host of actors that are all, in their own way, pushing for changes. It is a very dynamic environment,” she says.
In 2006 she completed her doctoral thesis at the Department of Human Geography, University of Stockholm, where she also has been teaching. The title of the dissertation is ‘Influence and Invisibility: Tenants in housing provision in Mwanza City, Tanzania’.
”Ownership is the model in Tanzania. To own your own house is regarded by many as the norm. In cities, however, small scale house renting is widespread,” says Jenny Cadstedt.
Jenny Cadstedt has been studying the differences between owning and renting when it comes to perceptions, attitudes, status and respect in the neighbourhood, as well as participation in various self-help groups. The difficulties have been to demonstrate the importance of a particular type of housing, alongside aspects such as income, age and gender.
”The preconditions in the West for this kind of research is different and similar studies in developing countries have been few. There has, however, been an increased interest in private rental tenure, if not among high level government officials, at least among researchers and international institutions such as UN Habitat. UN Habitat’s global campaign for tenure security has highlighted the issues,” says Jenny Cadstedt.
Because the private rental tenure sector is, de facto, largely uncontrolled by the government, the official position can sometimes be rather unclear. In a Tanzanian policy draft from 2008 it is mentioned that house ownership is the norm. At the same time the draft points out that there is a great need for rental tenure. As a result, Jenny Cadstedt argues that it is of importance to highlight and increase public knowledge about tenants’ rights and obligations.
Jenny Cadstedt’s research at NAI will continue to deal with Tanzanian towns and cities where land formalization and upgrading projects are carried out. “Land formalisation, with Hernando de Soto’s concept of ‘the dead capital of the poor’ in mind, is very interesting from both tenants and house owners’ perspectives. Will formalisation create greater security for owners and therefore also for tenants, or will the only result be increased rent for tenants? Is there a correlation between legal tenant security and perceived tenant security,” asks Jenny Cadstedt.
Settlement upgrading in towns and cities is to a large extent community based projects. Jenny Cadstedt argues that there are several valid questions to ask as regards tenants’ participation and involvement in projects to improve their neighbourhoods.
Eventually, Jenny Cadstedt hopes to be able to compare her research with the situation in other African countries, since tenure security and various forms of land ownership differ between countries.