This paper assesses the strengths and weaknesses of a state-led land delivery process in Gaborone, Botswana, in particular the extent to which such a process enables the poor to access land with secure tenure. The paper observes that, despite its efforts, the government has been unable to supply sufficient urban land to satisfy demand, largely because of three interrelated factors: (i) the changing and speculative nature of demands made by middle- and high-income beneficiaries; (ii) the evolution of a 'culture of entitlement'; and (iii) government reluctance to address the land and housing needs of the poor. Consequently, while the unattainable land demands made by the rich have resulted in a sprawling albeit well-planned city, the poor have utilised their collective agency to stake their claims by 'illegally' occupying, first, state land within the town and, later, customary land in peri-urban areas. These contradictions and contestations have, in the long run, forced the government to rethink, revise and rewrite its policies and approaches to urban land supply and development processes, although poor people continue to lose out in the struggles over policy, state land allocation and increasingly commercialised processes of informal peri-urban land subdivision.
International Development Planning Review (2006) 28 (2) 209-34[doi: 10.3828/idpr.28.2.5]