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The National Research Institute of Papua New Guinea has found that increasing migration combined with natural population growth had seen rapid growth of urban settlements spilling over into peri-urban customary land in Port Moresby.

This process has been fuelled by the shortage of affordable residential housing.

NRI finds that though unplanned settlements on State, private or customary land is illegal in Papua New Guinea, there is growing evidence of informal arrangements between landowners and settlers where migrants employ creative strategies to obtain and maintain access to the land.

According to NRI case study the ‘Taurama urbanization pilot project 2012’ was intended to develop customary land at Taurama Valley as a suburb under a partnership arrangement between the government, landowners and developers.

However, that project was abandoned when landowners disposed land informally to settlers before the project could be implemented.

Landowners informally released their land as a result of the following:

• Lack of understanding of the purpose of the project due to lack of consultation and engagement with landowners;

• Landowners wanted to save customary land from what they interpreted as alienation; and

• Offered an opportunity to earn cash for meeting livelihood needs.

Due to the reasons stated above, the informal customary land transactions resulted in the following impacts such as

• Conflicts between landowners and settlers for selling the same plot of land to different people;

• Security of tenure is not guaranteed for future generation of settlers; and

• Conflicts between landowner families over decision on land disposal and how the cash is distributed.

NRI stated that the State needs to facilitate a process for landowners to work with settlers so that they (landowners) can maintain ownership of their land and collect ongoing rental dues from settlers.

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