Dr Mercy Brown-Luthango is senior researcher at the African Centre for Cities. She has worked on a diverse range of research topics. Between 1998 and 2001, Luthango-Brown worked at the Development Policy Research Unit on a project called the South African Network of Skills Abroad (SANSA) which was concerned with quantifying the extent of “brain drain” from South Africa. Following this, she joined a labour supporting NGO, the Labour Research Services, where her research work included studying labour practices on wine farms, gender relations in the workplace, and the effect of global restructuring in the wine industry on South African wine farms. In 2006, she joined the Development Action Group, a housing and urban development NGO where her key responsibility was coordinating DAG’s value capture programme. This involved doing the necessary exploratory research work to develop and expand DAG’s programme on value capture and the social management of land and land value.
Her current research interests lie within the field of economics, relating specifically to land use planning. This involves understanding how certain planning processes (e.g. zoning, approval of land use applications, etc.) impact on the value of land and the use of this increased land value as a source of revenue for municipalities. She is also interested in studying the effects of certain land use practices (e.g. the retention of vacant land and the lack of appropriate regulatory tools to address these practices) and how these impact on the urban poor’s ability to access land and the way in which the city develops.