Land tenure regularisation for sustainable land use in informal urban settlements: Case study of Lalaouia and Mesguiche, Souk Ahras, Algeria
Land is a topic of increasing importance in cities in developing countries. In Algeria, the issue of land is also complex and delicate. Furthermore, problems related to land are more acute when it concerns informal (or illegal) settlements. Since 1945, a ruralurban migration movement in Souk Ahras has resulted in the emergence of informal settlements that had developed on the agricultural land situated on the outskirts of the colonial urban centre. In general, under a formal pattern of urban development, access to land titles precedes the act of building and occupation. In the case of informal settlements, the acquisition of landownership ultimately occurs, after the occupation of land, through regularisation procedures. This article focuses on the experience of land tenure regularisation carried out in two informal settlements, namely Lalaouia and Mesguiche, in the city of Souk Ahras, Algeria. The article seeks to identify elements that have contributed to the greater or lesser success of land regularisation. The main finding of this research is that the regularisation of land tenure in Lalaouia and Mesguiche reflects the general tendency of the Algerian government toward informal settlements that is based essentially on the recognition of these informal settlements. Thus, a land tenure regularisation strategy is implemented. It consists of a combination of physical upgrading programmes that have been ongoing since the mid-1970s, on the one hand, and land-titling measures supported by a set of legal texts to handle the issue of informal tenure, on the other. It is found that the regularisation of the informal settlements relies on an accurate land-information system. The approach adopted within the selected informal settlements can be assessed as positive, since it enabled a relative tenure security, the stability of residents, and the improvement of life standards. Nevertheless, these technical and legal tools are applied separately, instead of a unified approach of regularisation. Besides the fact that the regularisation process is often tedious and time consuming, the article also highlights the main challenges and obstacles that impede the regularisation process: historical complexity of land status, and lack of human, technical and financial resources. These issues are exacerbated by social conflicts that are often associated with heritage.
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