The Land Market in Kampala, Uganda and its Effect on Settlement Patterns

Resource Library | Author Stephen Giddings | Date January 2009

It is generally acknowledged by government officials, international experts and local practitioners that the difficulty of securing reasonably priced land is the greatest single constraint to the private sector’s ability to provide well-located urban housing opportunities for low and moderate income families in developing countries. This has resulted in the private sector’s tendency to construct higher income housing in such well-located and well-serviced areas while forcing housing for low and moderate income families to the peripheries of urban areas where they may incur substantial costs, both in time and money, in commuting to employment opportunities in the urban center and where infrastructure and urban services are often lacking or deficient. Although land values in central cities and well-serviced residential areas for good reason tend to be more expensive than land at the urban periphery, a well-functioning land market can help to keep costs competitive. Conversely, where such land markets do not function freely, or where there are artificial distortions to the market, land values in well-located urban areas may escalate to the point where housing for low and moderate income families simply cannot be built at a profit by the private sector without subsidies. This is the case in the rapidly growing city of Kampala, the capital of Uganda.