Credit: T. Lupic.
In 2009, almost 40% (395 million people) of Africans lived in urban areas. This urban population is expected to grow to one billion by 2040. Most of this growth is taking place in overcrowded urban slums that lack sanitation, durable housing, and tenure security-the certainty that a person's rights to land will be recognized and protected.
In many urban areas, large numbers of people establish "informal settlements," where many illegally occupy and build on land. Although informal settlements largely lack basic services, the urban poor depend on them for their shelter, livelihoods and communities. In the absence of clear property rights, these people are vulnerable to forced eviction, worsening poverty and renewed urban homelessness.
Africa's rapid urban growth makes cities a priority for public policies, including policies to protect the tenure security of residents in informal settlements. Ultimately, secure tenure for urban residents will contribute to more secure incomes and improved health for many.