HC Deb 08 July 2002 vol 388 cc707-8W
Mrs. Spelman

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment she has made of the value of property rights for poor people in the economic development of developing countries; what her Department is doing to promote property rights of poor people in the developing world; which projects her Department supports that promote the establishment of property rights for poor people in developing countries; and what the value of each project was in each of the last five years. [66808)

Clare Short

Property rights are an important element in poor people's range of livelihood assets and can assist directly in processes that eliminate poverty. My Department has made a series of assessments of property rights, mainly concerning land ownership and housing, in both rural and urban contexts.

Research has been undertaken, for example, to establish the range of tenure arrangements available to poor people in developing countries that allow people degrees of security and freedom in where they live, from which they can build their livelihoods for the future. The results are published by Intermediate Technology Development Group Publishing under the title "Land, Rights and Innovation". This tenure framework is currently being used to observe how poor people manage to establish their property rights in 15 developing countries. The work is being shared with the UN and World bank.

My Department is promoting better awareness of the role of property rights in poverty reduction through core funding support to UN-Habitat who are running their Global Campaign for Secure Tenure in 11 developing countries, and core funding support to the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions which is based in Geneva. Support is also provided to the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights.

Secure land and property rights for the poor are essential if they are to contribute to and benefit from economic development, and to unlock access to essential services and to finance for small-scale investment opportunities of all kinds. Many poor people have no or insecure property rights and can fall victim to forced evictions by landlords governments and commercial land development in both town and country.

Secure rights can be provided through various forms of tenure, and DFID is working actively throughout the world, especially in Africa and with global institutions to help developing countries establish effective policies and institutions to deliver secure property rights to the poor and prevent evictions. In those cases where we have a direct role to play, DFID projects have helped governments to deliver secure rights and land titles to the poor; I would highlight: South Africa were we spent £5.9 million up to 2000—a further phase is now being prepared in addition to a project earmarked at £5 million to help the SADC countries strengthen property rights for the poor throughout the Southern African Region Guyana where a £4.39 million project is due to end in 2003 Support to Kenya Land Reform £0.47 million Uganda Land Laws (Tenure) £1.35 million Asian Coalition for Housing Rights £2.19 million Property Rights in Croatia £0.59 million 10 projects in the former Soviet Union totalling £3.53 million, and £295,000 through NGO partners in Bangladesh, directly assisting the poor access land and secure their rights.

41 projects both small and large with a total value of £34.34 million have been contributing to our overall efforts over the last five years. In addition DFID supports research projects into how best to enable access to land and secure property rights for the poor in different contexts in various countries; in the same period there have been 19 research projects with a total value of £2.5 million.

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