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< prev - next > Social and economic development Social Development KnO 100680_Sustainable Slum Upgrading (Printable PDF)
Sustainable slum upgrading
Practical Action
Appropriate building design
In case studies of upgrading in India and Kenya, tribal tensions, community hierarchy and
domination emerged as causing tension among communities but overcrowding was not found to
be a negative aspect of residing in a slum. Slum housing which is normally at ground level
enables families to use the threshold and outside areas as social and living spaces which are
highly valued by slum-dwelling people. This aspect is crucial for the cultures of these
communities and is an example of how
the built environment can have a
powerful influence upon social
cohesion, happiness and life generally.
Appropriate housing design for slum-
dwellers following these living cultures
is therefore vital for the sustainability
of a slum-upgrading development.
Slum dwellers also appreciate flexible
building designs which give the
occupant more control and the option
to make incremental additions and
extensions as their family grows.
Research has found that high-rise
buildings and living at altitude is not a
problem, but the internal layouts that
are designed have detrimentally
Figure 3: High rise in-situ rehabilitation buildings at
affected community cohesion.
Nanapeth, Pune, India.
Security of tenure
Some individuals are held back from bettering their living situation and are forced to reside in a
slum. Due to insecurity of tenure, lack of affordable housing and poor economic mobility,
residents are either unwilling or unable to make investments in their home. A commitment to the
settlement or housing is needed for residents to invest in their property themselves, but if they
do not hold the title deeds to the land, they will always be reluctant to make such investments as
they could be taken away from them at any moment. In many cases slum-dwellers accept this
situation and the accompanying benefits that if they are illegal squatters they do not have to pay
formal rents or taxes and the opportunities that the slum in the city offers e.g. for better
employment and education opportunities. Residents often make a conscious choice to accept
their housing situation but remain held back by insecure tenure.
Coordinated planning policy, governance and partnerships
Provision of affordable housing and basic services may be considered to be a government’s
responsibility, for which coordinated master-planning is needed. A piece-meal approach to
developing slums via pilot and NGO projects does not support the wide-ranging, far-reaching and
forward-thinking strategy which is needed for cities to develop sustainably and cater to growing
populations. Only governments have the power to influence planning policy for their cities, but as
research has shown, government projects do not always successfully engage with communities or
implement their schemes as sensitively to communities as they could do. NGO’s however work in
a different way and are able to successfully communicate and empower communities to embrace
slum-upgrading interventions better than governments. But, NGO projects ultimately undermine
governments unless they have an impact upon institutional frameworks and are able to
implement activities to influence governments for future projects. The alternative stakeholders
have very different professional working styles which affect their capability to work coherently
together. But governments can learn from NGOs and the parties would be best to operate
alongside each other in a supportive manner rather than compete and undermine. Ideally, NGOs,
governments, the private sector and donors would work together in a partnership approach to
combine their skills and working styles. For example; donors with cross-cultural communication
skills as well as funding, private companies with professionalism and a drive for efficiency, NGOs
capable of gaining the trust and support of communities, and governments with the power to
repeat and scale up projects. Ultimately, political will and supportive institutional frameworks are
crucial for sustainable slum upgrading.