source: UN-HABITAT,The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlement, Earthscan, London 2003
The fact that nearly a billion people live in slums today is a testament to the failure of slum policies around the world. It is now good practice to involve the communities from the outset, often through a formalised process, and to require a contribution from the occupants, which gives them both commitment and rewards…
- in South Africa, since the first democratic elections in 1994, the government - in collaboration with a wide range of civil society actors - has provided subsidies to more than 1,334,200 households for the poorest among the poor in rural as well as urban areas, and that by 2001, a total of 1,155,300 houses had been constructed, housing as many as 5,776,300 people, in a country with some 40 million people;
- Singapore is one of the few countries that successfully practices comprehensive public sector housing development, with housing policies and institutions advancing systematically and comprehensively with the economy. 82% of Singapore’s current housing stock has been built by the Housing Development Board (HDB); and that an average of 9% of gross domestic product (GDP) per year has been allocated for housing, compared with around 4% in OECD countries;
- the Orangi Pilot Project in Karachi, Pakistan, where residents constructed sewers to 72,000dwellings over 12 years from 1980 to 1992, contributing more than US$2 million from their own resources, and which now includes basic health, family planning, and education and empowerment components, is considered to be one of the most successful illustrations of the current best practice of participatory slum upgrading;
- through their “Integrated programmes of social inclusion” in Santo André municipality, São Paulo, local authorities and aid agencies have improved the living conditions of 16,000 favela inhabitants building partnerships with ‘excluded’ groups;
- among other initiatives: in Alexandria, Egypt self-help partnership projects, successfully set up, will be integrated, scaled-up and replicated throughout the country. The Urban Poor Community Development Revolving Fund in Thailand provides low interest loans for community development in poor areas. Partnerships for slum upgrading in Dakar, Senegal, which have improved the lives of more than 1 million inhabitants over the last 5 years. The Holistic Upgrading Programme in Medellin, Colombia, which has addressed the needs of 55,000 slum dwellers during its first phase;
- the right to housing is enshrined in many national constitutions, with clauses on non-discrimination regarding race, sex, age, etc. In some countries, the co-operative housing movement is strong and specific legislation has been developed for this sector, which opens new alternatives to low-income groups. In Brazil, for example, the Municipal Districts have been helping reduce the housing shortage through various types of interventions that include: housing improvements, self-help building programmes through savings groups, self-construction, self-management, basic building materials kits, upgrading of slums and building new housing units.
- Chile is addressing the issue of extreme poverty, specifically in irregular or precarious settlements through the programme “Chile Barrio” which became operational in 1998. A total of 974 settlements with 117.361 families nation-wide were included. In the first year, approximately 13,000 families benefited while the number increased to 30,000 in 1999.
- Local urban poverty-reduction projects led by community-based organisations and small NGOs are providing valuable lessons for major donor agencies. They emphasise, for example, the importance of empowering low-income households in decision-making. Slum-dwellers and homeless federations are already running in Africa – South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Uganda, and Swaziland - and in Asia – India, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and the Philippines;
- in South Africa, for example, the Homeless People's Federation has over 100,000 members. It has helped 12,000 families get housing, and many more to improve their homes, get water and sanitation and acquire land tenure rights;
- In India, two federations work together - the National Slum Dwellers Federation and Mahila Milan. Both are savings schemes formed by homeless women. They have more than 750,000 members and work in 70 cities.