Urban land grabbing and its implications to sustainable urban development a reflection from Oshitayi area, Ondangwa (Namibia)
Land grabbing is not new as this concept can be traced back through centuries of human history all over the world. Throughout the world, land either in rural or in urban areas, was subjected to some form of grabbing. The main focus for this mini-dissertation was to seek answers as to (1) why people (i.e. commercial and residential users) gradually choose to grab strategic unplanned land within the townlands of Ondangwa, particularly in the Oshitayi area; and (2) the implications of land grabbing to sustai nable urban development. The objectives were to determine the reasons for land grabbing and what possible impacts (both positive and negative) this land grabbing can have on the sustainability of urban development. This mini-dissertation was theoretica l and relied mostly on qualitative data collected using semi-structured in-depth interviews, document reviews and participant observations. A sample size of 27 respondents was used to provide data for this minidissertation. Fifteen respondents were randomly sa mpled from a group of 1 268 land grabbers consisting of 1 054 commercial users and 214 res idential users occupying land illegally in the Oshitayi area. Another 12 respondents were purposely sampled from a group of 25 target population (i.e. six officials working for the Ondangwa Town Council as well as six private professional town planners with experience and knowledge of the situation in the Oshitayi area). Even though there is a globally accepted notion that land grabbing taking place in many cities is fuelled by urban poverty, there are new reasons found for land grabbing taking place in the Oshitayi area. The emerging picture of this type of land grabbing is different from the usual accepted norm of pro-poor land grabbing whereby the poor people who are unable to afford serviced land in urban areas are believed to grab any available undeveloped urban land for shelter. This type of land grabbing was found to be more "opportunistic" in nature which is observed not to have been founded on the ground of seeking shelter. This means that the actors involved in this type of land grabbing knew what they want with the land they are occupying and they are merely not the "urban poor". It was evident from the findings that the reasons attributed to this type of land grabbing includes investment opportunities being pursued by local entrepreneurs, the cumbersome and bureaucratic legislative framework that is governing land delivery, opportunistic compensations, poor institutional coordination and lack of public awareness/participation in municipal agendas. Sporadic land grabbing was found to have positive implications for the economic and social aspect of sustainability, whilst negative implications are eminent for spatial and environmental aspects of sustainability with respect to urban development.