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< prev - next > Social and economic development Social Development KnO 100680_Sustainable Slum Upgrading (Printable PDF)
Sustainable slum upgrading
Practical Action
their dreams. In places that are developed there tends to an obsession with cleanliness and order
and slums fly in the face of both, although there is a resilience to slums that is probably far
greater than is found in more ordered and controlled societies. Slum dwellers know how to live
with intermittent services, unhygienic conditions, inadequate income and so on in a way that
more structured societies could not.
Considerations for practitioners
The views of the various stakeholders involved in slum upgrading are not always consistent, no
matter whether they are local or outsiders. Priorities differ, and so this has a significant impact
on how upgrading should be delivered to satisfy the different parties’ needs. The route to
sustainability is not always clear-cut but there are common characteristics across slum upgrading
cases. Here are some recommendations that slum upgrading practitioners should consider when
aspiring for sustainability in their work;
Do not impose your values
Don’t assume that what is being delivered is what the slum-dweller wants. Don’t assume that the
slum-dweller wants help to develop. According to your expectations you may feel it is needed, but
it may not be considered a priority to the slum-dweller. Be culturally sensitive.
Be sensitive to the pragmatic advantages of slum-dwelling
Residing in a slum may have benefits such as; tax evasion, free healthcare, affordable lifestyle,
central location. If standards were higher, the cost of living may be unaffordable to the slum-
dweller, therefore the slum may offer an advantageous opportunity. Many people reside in slums
out of choice.
Consider appropriate design
High density housing may be preferred by the slum-dweller; overcrowding may not be an issue and
can aid cohesion in low-income communities. Consider the impact of building design upon
community cohesion which has been shown to be a priority for slum-dwellers.
Flexible building designs which enable the inhabitant to make incremental additions, or with the
option to extend are often preferred by slum-dwellers.
Security of tenure
A commitment to the settlement and/or security of tenure is needed for residents’ sense of
ownership, to be incentivised to make investments themselves, and to maintain and care for the
assets into the future.
Do not assume slum dwellers want to own their home or prioritise housing in their lives. Slum-
dwellers may not care about ownership and security of tenure preferring to rent. There are
advantages to renting which may suit residents best.
Coordinated master planning is needed by governments for their cities. Political will and
supportive institutional frameworks are crucial.
NGOs should not undermine government, but share their skills to work together with governments.
Measures are needed to prevent the formation of new slums. The provision of affordable housing
and related infrastructure for a growing population is vital.
One-off pilot projects which cannot be reproduced, scaled up or do not positively affect housing
and planning policy are unsustainable.
Maintainable and Operational
Management of operation and maintenance needs to be under recipient control. Upgrading should
be affordable to maintain, with parts and skills available. Recipients need to be motivated to want
to maintain the upgrading.
Costs should be appropriately affordable to the context in order for upgrading to be scaled up,
repeated and maintainable. Financial contribution towards housing aids sense of ownership and
value of the assets.
Livelihood generation
Simultaneous enterprise development and job creation is needed alongside upgrading for poverty
reduction and to enforce asset creation, sense of value of the upgrading and the community’s
incentive to maintain it for the future.
This Brief is based on research which has benefitted from a methodology with ground level
surveys that allowed stakeholders to express what they really felt rather than answer questions
that the researcher had predetermined the priority of. The rigorous, academic yet personal nature