Influence and Invisibility Tenants in Housing Provision in Mwanza City, Tanzania
Abstract: A high proportion of urban residents in Tanzanian cities are tenants who rent rooms in privately owned houses in unplanned settlements. However, in housing policy and in urban planning rental tenure gets very little attention. This study focuses on the reasons for and consequences of this discrepancy between policy and practice.Perspectives and actions of different actors involved in the housing provision process in Mwanza City, Tanzania, have been central to the research. The examined actors are residents in various housing tenure forms as well as government officials and representatives at different levels, from the neighbourhood level to UN-Habitat. The main methods have been interviews and discussions with actors as well as studies of policy documents, laws and plans.Among government actors, private rental tenure is largely seen as an issue between landlords and tenants. Tanzanian housing policy focuses more on land for housing than on shelter. This means that house-owners who control land have a more important role in urban planning and policies than tenants have. In Tanzania in general and in Mwanza in particular, housing policy focuses on residents’ involvement in upgrading unplanned areas by organising in Community Based Organisations. This means that owners who live for a longer period in an area benefit more from settlement improvements than tenants. Tenants are relatively mobile and do not take for granted that they will stay in the same house for long. This raises the question of tenants’ possibilities to influence as well as their rights as citizens as compared to that of owners. The question of citizens’ rights for dwellers in informal settlements has received increased attention during the last years in international housing policy discussions. There is an evident need to intensify and diversify this discussion.
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