• SmallBanner 01
  • SmallBanner 02
  • SmallBanner 03

Secure land tenure for urban slum-dwellers: A conjoint experiment in Kenya


Year published: 2019
Categories: Journal Article

Author / Authors:

  • Hye-Sung Kim
  • Yong Yoon
  • Mary Mutinda


Until recently, improving land tenure security has been an integral part of slum upgrading initiatives aimed at improving living conditions in urban slums. However, there is limited empirical evidence on whether slum dwellers find housing options with improved tenure security preferable and whether they can afford such options. This study identifies the causal effects of improving land tenure security on slum dwellers' preferences and abilities to afford alternative, upgraded housing options. To this end, it employs a conjoint experiment embedded in a public opinion survey on a sample of 3,715 respondents from five urban slums in Nairobi and its outskirts. Our experiment has three main findings. First, slum dwellers prefer a more secure land tenure type rather than contested land when considering where to live, but this preference depends on the respondents' informal settlement, occupation, and stated reasons for living in the slum. Second, improvement of land tenure security has almost no influence on slum dwellers' abilities to afford upgraded housing options. Instead, the cost of rent is the most important factor determining affordability. Finally, slum dwellers' preferences and affordability frequently do not overlap. For instance, over half (56%) of the respondents who prefer the housing option with a more secure land tenure type—that is, land with clear ownership—over contested land are unable to afford it. Therefore, improving land tenure security alone will have limited success in helping slum dwellers transition to housing options with improved living conditions. Instead of one-size-fits-all land formalization policies aiming at improving land tenure security, policies should be designed specifically for each informal settlement to address its residents’ unique needs and interests.

Habitat International, Volume 93, 2019


  • Journal Article