With have taken a number of different approaches to

With a significant
growth in rural to urban migration, it is becoming increasingly difficult for
countries in the global south to provide adequate housing for low-income
inhabitants. This has resulted in the growth of urban slums and squatter
establishments. UN Habitat reported that 924 million people resided in urban
slums in 2001. It is projected that by 2030, this number will increase to 2
billion (UN Habitat, 2003).


Governments, civil
society actors, the private sector and residents in the global south have taken
a number of different approaches to address the housing crisis, ranging from
self-help solutions, land titling to integrated in-situ slum upgrading programs
(UN Habitat, 2012). During the 1950s and 60s, governments responded to the
housing crisis by allowing migrants to build informal and illegal settlements
in urban areas (Gilbert, 2002). This left civil society actors to address the
needs gap, and enabled the private sector to take advantage of vulnerable
populations (Fernandes,
2011; Marcuse, 1992; Sakay, Sanoni and DEng, 2011). During the 1970s,
governments attempted to formalize illegal settlements through land titling. As
this was solely a government-driven approach, with no active participation from
civil society, the private sector and beneficiaries, this program was largely
ineffective (Jones, 2012). In the 1980s, governments then attempted to bring
reform through integrated slum upgrading programs. This program proved to be
more effective than those implemented previously, as it ensured collaboration
between the government, civil society, the private sector and beneficiaries (Gilbert,
2002). The main proposition presented in this essay, is that historically, the
most effective approaches to urban slums and informal housing have often involved
the government, civil society actors, the private sector and beneficiaries in
its development and implementation.

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This essay
will evaluate state, civil society, private sector, and resident responses to
slums and informal housing settlements in the global south. Through a
historical approach, this paper will analyze self-help housing solutions, land
titling and integrated in-situ slum upgrading programs. Each section begins
with a description of the program, a case study example, lessons learned on how
effectively the approach was applied, and an analysis of stakeholder (i.e.
government, civil society, private sector and resident) responses. The essay
will conclude with the proposition that integrated in-situ slum upgrading is
the most effective approach in addressing urban slums and informal housing, as
it involves all key actors (i.e. the government, civil society actors, the
private sector and beneficiaries) in its development and implementation.




In the 1950s
and 60s, governments in the global south significantly altered their approach
to providing social housing. The primary approach during this time was to leave
the low income and ultra-poor to find their own housing solutions (Gilbert,
2002). The self-help strategy that was adopted by governments in the global south,
was largely influenced by the work of John Turner. He argued that governments
should not view illegal settlements such as slums and informal housing units as
a problem, but rather a solution. His main proposition was that, due to the
mass influx of migrants moving to city centers, it is difficult for governments
to mobilize the resources necessary to address the shortage. If left to their
own devices, the poor will create strategic housing solutions for themselves
(Turner, as cited in Nakamura, 2014). The outcomes of early self-help housing
strategies, however, prove otherwise.



The outcomes
of an early self-help initiative can be seen in the case study example of Lima,
Peru and the establishment of barriadas.  As per rural to urban migration patterns in
Lima during the 1950s and 60s, migrants initially resorted to residing in central
areas of the urban city (Turner, 1963; Mangin, 1967 as cited in Chambers,
2005). In the decades following mass migration to the city center, residents
began to move away from central locations to the margins of the city (Joseph as
cited in Chambers, 2005). A large number of the poor also resorted to building
settlements on land illegally. In line with the government’s self-help
strategy, the establishment of these illegal settlements was often ignored by political
leaders, as these settlements furthered no political purpose, were built on the
peripheries of major cities in low-value, and least desirable areas (Gilbert,



illegal settlements served an unmet need and provided a housing solution for
the poor, it brought along a host of other issues. First, as the poor
established settlements in unfavorable areas of the city, they were often
deprived of education and economic opportunities, perpetuating the cycle of
poverty, and maintaining the societal structure of inequality (Marcuse, 1992;
Sakay, Sanoni and DEng, 2011). Second, informal settlements often became a form
of generational inheritance as the children of the early inhabitants resided in
these homes in the following decades. This perpetuated a form of
intergenerational poverty for the urban poor (Joseph as cited in Chambers,
2005). Third, with limited income and no government assistance squatter huts
and slums were often unmaintained, creating unhealthy living conditions for the
poor. Fourth, due to the lack of government control, key actors in the housing
industry were able to manipulate pricing by controlling the supply and location
of housing provision, exacerbating gentrification, and perpetuating a cycle of
poverty for the urban poor (Marcuse, 1992; Sakay, Sanoni and DEng, 2011).



self-help approach that some governments in the global south began to adopt
during the 1950s and 1960s, has largely proven to be ineffective. Not only does
this approach pardon governments from taking responsibility and action on urban
informality and poverty, but it also negatively influences how other actors
respond to the problem as well. Essentially, a lack of government intervention
prevents actors from coming together to holistically address the problem (Fernandes,
2011; Marcuse, 1992; Sakay, Sanoni and DEng, 2011).


First, with
a lack of government intervention, (i.e. health, increased crime rates) the
burden to address resulting social problems (i.e. health outcomes, increased
crime rates, unemployment, lack of education of children) is disproportionally placed
on civil society actors. Given resource and budget constraints, civil society
organizations are often ill-equipped to address these social problems on an
impactful scale (Sakay, Sanoni and DEng, 2011). Second, with a lack of government
regulation in place, private sector organizations are placed in a position that
allows them to take advantage of the urban poor, through price hikes, reducing
the quality of housing for cost control, and exacerbating gentrification by
pushing the urban poor into unfavorable parts of the city (Fernandes, 2011;
Marcuse, 1992; Sakay, Sanoni and DEng, 2011). If the government adopted an
integrated approach, engaged all actors, enacted regulations on the private
sector, and worked with civil society organizations to address the root of
social problems, the issues associated with urban slums and informal housing
could be addressed on a more impactful level (Gilbert, 2002).




In the
1970s, some governments reoriented their approach from self-help housing to
removing illegality of informal housing units and slums. This strategy was
largely influenced by the work of Peruvian economist, Hernando de Soto (as cited
in Jones, 2012). De Soto’s main contention was that slum and informal housing
dwellers are essentially owners of their homes and land, but lack formal legal
documentation. He argued that the absence of legal documentation prevented
inhabitants from using their property to obtain loans from banks, finance
business activities, and invest in property. De Soto argued that access to property
documentation will not only improve the quality of informal settlements and
housing, but that slum dwellers will be able to break away from the cycle of
poverty (De Soto, 2011; Jones, 2012).



During the
mid 1980s, Hernando De Soto’s Institute of Liberty and Democracy (ILD) prepared
a series of reforms on land titling with the creation of 175 property rulings,
and 2000 items of legislation (Becker, 1996). In 1996, heavily influenced by De
Soto and ILD’s work, the Peruvian government created an institution for land
titling and established an administrative process for tracking land
formalization. Although the Peruvian government implemented the program with
228 000 settlements by the following year, it can be argued that the program
was not effective in the long run (Kagawa cited in Mckenchie, 2005).



The historic
outcomes of titling programs, such as the one implemented by the Peruvian
government, have been assessed. First, land titling has had very little impact
on credit access from banks. Access to loans and credits from banks is as
equally influenced by employment status and wealth as it is by legal access to
property (Gravois, 2005 cited in Mckenchie, 2005; Fernandes, 2011). Second,
governments anticipated that increasing access to land titles would
significantly increase investment activity by slum dwellers and informal
housing residents. However, it was later discovered that financial security was
linked to increased investment activity, not access to land titling.  Third, it was discovered that poverty
alleviation isn’t single handedly dependent on access to land titles. In
addition to land titling, a holistic approach is required, where government and
civil society actors works together to address the root causes of the problem
(Fernandes, 2011).



Based on the
historical analysis above, land titling programs have proven to be ineffective
largely because these programs are government-only initiatives, with very
little involvement from other actors such as the private sector, civil society organizations,
and the beneficiaries themselves. 


It is true
that the land titling initiative in Peru was initiated by a civil society organization,
the ILD. The results from De Soto and ILD’s pilot project heavily influenced
the Peruvian government to implement reforms. When the Peruvian government
decided to implement reforms however, it was not in collaboration with other
actors, such as the private sector, affected resident members and civil society
organizations (Becker, 1996). This explains why the program did not achieve
intended outcomes, and was largely ineffective.


First, had
the government involved the private sector (such as banks and insurance agencies)
in program development, the government would be able to ensure that land
titling would result in increased access to credit and insurance for the urban
poor. Second, had the government involved community members through the
development of a community representative association, the government would
have been able to foresee that property investment is linked to financial
security and not land titling. Third, had the government involved civil society
actors in program development, the government would have been able to develop a
holistic approach that not only addresses urban slums and informal housing, but
the root causes of poverty that caused it in the first place (Mckenchie, 2005;
Fernandes, 2011). The government’s inability to involve key actors resulted in
the development of a housing program that did not match programmatic activities
to intended outcomes.




By the 1980s,
governments in the global south recognized the importance of an integrated
approach, and began to implement in-situ slum upgrading programs. The key component
of this programmatic approach was to integrate residents within their local
communities, enhancing resident’s standard of living. Slum upgrading programs
often implement a mix of integrated activities ranging from sites and services,
public infrastructure and services, utilities provision and land titling, to
name a few. From a historical analysis, some of the most effective integrated
slum upgrading programs often involve cooperation and participation of the
community, civil society actors, the private sector and the government (Gilbert,



One such example of
an integrated approach, is the Dharavi Redevelopment Project (DRP), implemented
by the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) in Dharavi, India. The DRP allowed the
private sector to develop commercial buildings on high-value land in exchange
for the development and provision of free housing for slum dwellers in the
area. The DRP redeveloped 50,000 housing units within the existing site. A
total of 80,000 units were created off-site where residents were settled in
surrounding areas (Anand and Rademacher, 2011).



In-situ integrated
slum upgrading projects have often been viewed as the more effective approach
amongst housing solutions. First, integrated in-situ slum upgrading projects
decrease the likelihood of gentrification as inhabitants are given the
opportunity to preserve existing social networks, which are often critical to
their economic livelihoods (Gilbert, 2002; Anand and Rademacher, 2011). Second,
an integrated approach, where civil society, government, the private sector,
and inhabitants are involved, allows for a holistic solution where the
interests of inhabitants are kept as a central priority. Third, this approach
seems to be a more economical option for governments, as the government is able
to negotiate terms and amenities with private sector developers (Gilbert, 2002;
Burra, 2005).



Integrated in-situ
slum upgrading programs have proven to be an effective response to urban slums
and informal housing. The approach relies on participation from all key actors
including the government, civil society actors, and participatory
representation of beneficiaries (Gilbert, 2002).


Each actor in an
integrated in-situ slum upgrading program plays an important and complementary
role to address the problem. In the case of DRP, the role of the government was
two-fold. First, through the SRA, the government devised an initial scheme with
private sector developers to ensure that housing compensation would be provided
for slum dwellers in the same area. Second, the government placed development regulations
on private sector developers, to ensure that slum dwellers would not be taken
advantage of (Mukhija, 2002; Anand and Rademacher, 2011).


It is important to
note however, that this process was only effective through the involvement of
civil society actors. The non-profit organization, Society for the Promotion of
Area Resource Centers (SPARC) played an instrumental role in ensuring that the
needs of slum dweller populations was centralized in decisions as much as
possible (Anand and Rademacher, 2011; Mukhija, 2002). SPARC was also instrumental
in the establishment of cooperative housing societies, that included resident
members (Burra, 2005). It also mediated the negotiation process to ensure that
resident members voices were heard amongst the government and private sector
actors (Anand and Rademacher, 2011; Burra, 2005). In scenarios where the
private sector or the government was unable to establish utilities and
infrastructure, SPARC took a lead role in ensuring this provision was made
available to inhabitants. SPARC also participated in the development of
architecture to ensure that it met the needs of low-income populations
(Mukhija, 2002). This program was largely effective because it was an
integrated approach; the government was able to regulate the activities and
behavior of the private sector, and civil society actors were able to ensure that
the voices of the beneficiaries was heard in the process.



This essay
has evaluated state, civil society, private sector and resident responses to
slums and informal housing settlements in the global south. After an analysis
of self-help housing, land titling and an integrated in-situ slum upgrading
program, this paper concludes that the most effective response is an integrated
one. When the government involves civil society actors, the private sector and
the beneficiaries themselves in the decision-making process, it is able to
ensure that the program is effective, and benefits the very population it seeks
to aid.