What is incremental settlement?
Incremental settlement is the process by which legally recognised settlements are created over time in an incremental manner through the involvement and actions of a range of role-players including government, communities and the private sector. It includes the development of such settlements from:
- an in-situ context where people have already occupied the land in an illegal manner and the area is then formalised and upgraded over time (This is called upgrading of informal settlements UIS); as well as
- a greenfield context where the land is undeveloped and the area is prepared for future settlement and upgraded over time (this is called Managed Land Settlement - MLS).
Incremental settlement is a pro poor approach to settlement development that is being promoted and advocated by the LANDfirst network. If you have not yet done so, you are encouraged to endorse or pledge support for LANDfirst charter that provides a vision and principles for LANDfirst (another name for incremental settlement) approach.
Broadly there are two extremes for how low income households in need of housing can access land and houses:
- On the one extreme they can wait for government to build them a government subsidised (RDP) house, which may take a number of years. At current delivery rates some have calculated that this may take up to 30 years for all to be housed. The challenge with this approach is that households will have to find their own accommodation while they wait for government to provide them a house.
- On the other extreme, households can take matters into their own hands and illegally occupy land and built "shacks", with government and others turning a "blind eye" to this illegal occupation. The challenge of this approach is that it is illegal making it difficult to come in later and rectify and upgrade what people have done for themselves.
Managed Land Settlement is an approach that is between these two extremes. Land is made available in an organised and managed manner on which people can start to build their own houses, with government coming in latter to assist in upgrading these areas step by step.
For more on why MLS is considered necessary see:
- Between a shack and an RDP House: Alternative Forms of Tenure Security
- Land First: An innovative strategy to accelerate housing delivery