The unintended consequences of Egypt’s institutional land regime on unplanned settlement growth in the Nile Valley

M. Abdelkader*, R.V. Sliuzas, L.G.J. Boerboom, J.A. Zevenbergen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
139 Downloads (Pure)


Egypt has been facing substantial unplanned human settlement growth on agricultural land since the 1950s. Although plans to better manage future settlement growth are ongoing, a full understanding of unplanned settlement growth on agricultural land remains lacking. This study investigated why and how unplanned human settlement growth occurs in Assiut Governorate, the Nile Valley. A mixed-method approach combining the institutional resource regime framework, template analysis, and process tracing was used to gain insights into those mechanisms that generate unplanned growth. Analyzing the institutional land regime between 1805 and 2020 revealed that various public policies have existed alongside of land use and property rights, but the overall regime remains incoherent. In-depth interviews with stakeholders in Assiut Governorate highlighted that the informality in Assiut was driven by institutional and political, cultural, and economic forces (a total of 26 forces). Process tracing showed that the key mechanism behind unplanned settlement growth has existed since the 1950s and is triggered by a combination of incoherent public policy, land use and property rights. These results suggest that the current national development plan (2052 Vision) will most probably lead to similar setbacks if the land regime's complexity and incoherence are not addressed. They also revealed that several informal institutions and local values and customs could also be significant obstacles to effective regulation of the development of agricultural land in the Nile Valley and Delta Region.
Original languageEnglish
Article number105887
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalLand use policy
Early online date24 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022


  • Causal mechanisms
  • Institutional resource regime
  • Unplanned human settlement growth
  • Egyptian national development policy
  • Process tracing
  • Driving forces
  • The Nile Valley
  • UT-Hybrid-D


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