Hundreds of millions expect to lose their homes against their will, largest ever study reveals – Kenya focus

Report includes data on Kenya, where 28% of respondents said they expected to lose their home or other property against their will in the next five years.


  • 1 in 4 people fear losing homes, global survey of perceptions of property rights shows
  • Findings point way forward for national and international policy-makers working on land rights and regulation
  • More than 210 million living in African cities will fear for their rights to stay in their homes by 2050

Hundreds of millions of people in developing countries expect to lose their homes against their will in the next five years, a ground-breaking study has shown.

Prindex, a joint initiative of the Global Land Alliance and Overseas Development Institute (ODI), asked adults across 33 countries whether they expected to lose the right to use their homes during the next five years. One in four adults said that it was likely or very likely that they would lose their homes, equivalent to 178 million adults and up to 117 million children living with them in those countries.

Malcolm Childress, Co-Director of Prindex said: “These findings are alarming. People who are insecure in their homes often struggle to plan for their future, invest money or get an education. Too many children are growing up under these circumstances. So ensuring people feel secure in their homes is critical to growing healthy, fair economies. Governments around the world must take note of these findings when making decisions on land and property regulations.”

Those who feared for their future property rights cited factors including lack of funds to pay rent, the possibility that owners or primary renters would ask them to leave, family disagreements, or land seizures by governments, businesses, or others. Women were more likely than men to expect to lose their home in the event of a divorce or death of their spouse.

The countries covered in the study are: Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Colombia, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Ecuador, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mexico, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom, Vietnam and Zambia.

Findings from the study include:

  • 1 in 4 respondents felt insecure in their homes or other property. That indicates that 178 million adults in 33 countries think it is ‘likely’ or ‘very likely’ that they will lose their home against their will in the next five years.
  • Across the 33 countries, nearly 117 million children (21%) live in households with an adult who feels insecure about their tenure.
  • Women have much less confidence than men that they will retain access to their homes if they divorce or their spouse dies. Women were, on average, over 12 percentage points more likely than men to express worry in the event of divorce or spousal death.
  • There are currently nearly 32 million adults living in urban areas in countries in sub-Saharan Africa surveyed by Prindex who are insecure in their rights to their home and land. That means there could be more than 60 million adults living in urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa who are tenure insecure. Based on urban population growth projections, this means there could be over 210 million by 2050, assuming rates of tenure insecurity remain the same.
  • West and Central Africa are the regions where people have the highest rates of concern for the right to retain access to their homes, while Latin America has the lowest regional average rate.

Anna Locke, Head of the Agricultural Development and Policy Programme at ODI and Co-Director of Prindex, said: “The Prindex survey shows for the first time that every morning, hundreds of millions of people around the world wake up fearing they might lose their home. This should make us reconsider how we think about development. The finding that women feel less secure than men in the event of divorce or the death of their partner is particularly striking – it shows there is a long way to go in meeting the aspiration of equal economic rights for women worldwide.”

Peter Rabley, Venture Partner at Omidyar Network, a funder of Prindex, said: “Far too many policymakers around the world lack the accessible, quality data needed to make better decisions and improve the lives of residents in their countries and cities, particularly when it comes to mapping, administering and protecting people’s property rights. What sets Prindex apart from other datasets is that it truly takes people into account, asking them what they think about their security of tenure and why, as opposed to a survey of existing government records. We support Prindex and the growing number of countries using this ground-breaking dataset to move the needle on property rights, an issue that affects nearly every aspect of a community’s social and economic well-being.”