In our work, in order to understand market dynamics, there’s often a need to acknowledge the difference between formal and informal housing. We tend to have a flexible definition, guided by what definition is suited better to the research project. We know that definitions vary and take account of the way the building was constructed (developer or household), the type of building materials used and whether the house has legal title (the latter of which is important because a title is required for the house to act as collateral for a mortgage).
Eighty20, a consultancy, has recorded the different definitions of informality they’ve come across through their work in South Africa. In a blog post, where they’ve published this data, it is apparent that the definitions tend to focus on whether the land is legally occupied and whether permission for the structure has been given by the local authority.
It’ll be fascinating to see how different authorities define informality across Africa. If you know of any definitions, please share them with us (email, Facebook, Twitter or comment below). In the meantime, see the different definitions recorded by Eighty20.