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Essay On Informal Settlement
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Immigration In The 1920s Essay
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White Settlers Research Paper
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More about Essay On Informal Settlement
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Informal Settlement Essay
2.0 INRODUCTION Having set the aims, objectives and research questions in the first chapter, this chapter zooms in to review literature available on the subject of land tenure regularization and its effect on housing investment from different parts of the world with specific reference to cities. The emphasis of this chapter is to analyse the link between land tenure regularization and housing investment in informal settlements. Also, the focus is on securing land rights in informal settlements, since it is widely believed that regularization of informal settlement rights leads to (increased) access to formal finance which subsequently encourages housing investment (Chome and McCall, 2005). The chapter starts with contextual definition of key terms, and then followed by global documentation on the impact of tenure regularization in informal settlement, focusing on the experiences of some selected countries. Since the aim of the research is to investigate the effect of land tenure regularization on informal housing investment and that both the Zambian Local Authorities and the government have intention to regularize informal settlements, lessons learnt from the case study countries will be noted, after which the chapter will be concluded in section 2.6 by way of a summary. 2.1 CONTEXTUAL DEFINITIONS 2.1.1 INFORMAL SETTLEMENT Many synonyms have been used in literature to refer to informal settlements. These include spontaneous, irregular, unplanned, marginal and squatter settlements. Some literatures have used the terms slums and informal settlements interchangeably (UNHSP, 2003). While a clear definition for informal settlements is still difficult to find (ibid), some organisations have given descriptions of informal settlements.... ... middle of paper ... ... revision of tax rates and many more. In order to secure land tenure for the urban informal settlers, different countries have introduced licenses or Certificates in different names. However they all have the same objectives. For instance, in Zambia residents are issued with a 30-year Occupancy Licences while the area undergoes through the process of upgrading. These can be later replaced by certificates of title , which carry the same effect as if the landowner were obtaining a direct lease of the land from the state (UN-Habitat, 2012). In Botswana, Certificate of Use is issued to informal dwellers so as to encourage them on further housing investment (Durand-Lasserve, 2006). In Brazil, Concession of the Real Right to Use is issued to residents. The validity period of these licences varies between 30 and 50 year periods but subject to renew (Van der Molen, 2002).
In this essay, the author
- Analyzes the link between land tenure regularization and housing investment in informal settlements, focusing on the experiences of selected countries.
- Explains that many synonyms have been used in literature to refer to informal settlements, including spontaneous, irregular, unplanned, marginal, and squatter.
- Explains that housing is a complex commodity, with spatial fixity, defining characteristic, asset, investment, and consumption dimension to account for.
- Explains payne's definition of tenure as the mode by which land is held or owned, the set of relationships among people concerning land and its product.
- Explains that there are several land tenure systems or arrangements in operation in the rural areas of africa, which oversee the access and use of natural resources.
- Explains that land ownership under customary tenure is collective and is guided by the local customs of the community.
- Explains that private tenure is common in urban areas of formerly colonized countries where it was designed to serve the interest of colonial settlers. however, it has restrictions to access by the low income earners as acquisition of title is more costly and time consuming process.
- Explains that public ownership of land is where the state owns the land of the country and allocated according to officially determined priorities.
- Explains the non-formal or informal tenure system, where land dwellers occupy land without any consent from the registered owner. it covers regularized and un-regularized squatter settlements, illegal land sub-division and many more.
- Describes the various types of informal land tenure that exist in informal settlements, in addition to the formal tenure systems recognized by land law.
- Explains that the united nations defines tenure security as protection against eviction, selling, and transferring rights through inheritance, having a mortgage and access to credit under certain conditions.
- Explains that secure tenure is a foundation for all endeavours to improve the standard of living of the urban poor informal settlers.
- Explains that place (2009) defines tenure security as bundles of land rights held with rights being described along several dimensions for example type, breadth, duration, and certainty of exercise.
- Describes formalization as the acknowledgement of informal settlements and their subsequent absorption into the formal city fold. the process may include actions such as gazzetement of settlement areas as ‘urban renewal’ zones or ‘special planning areas’.
- Explains legalization is the process of providing legal consolidation to the tenure systems operating within informal settlements.
- Explains that titling is the formal adjudication, cadastral survey, and registration of individual or group rights to land in the legal land register. it entails the change of informal rights into formal rights registered under statutory provisions.
- Explains that property titles are used as collateral in securing loans from formal-sector finance institutions to improve their homes or develop businesses.
- Explains that the purpose of the project is to help local authorities escalate the proportion of planned urban land and provide services more efficiently.
- Explains that regularization of informal property rights leads to a wider range of direct and indirect benefits.
- Opines that certainty of ownership should lead to greater social cohesion.
- Explains that judicious use of appropriate powers can cure defects in titles to land. in many countries, the official record is supported by a state guarantee of the title to the land so that anyone adversely affected by errors in the register may receive compensation.
- Opines that reducing land disputes can lead to expensive litigation, clog up the court system, and socially divisive.
- Describes the benefits of improved conveyancing, which reduces the expense and delays in transferring property rights. duplication of effort can be avoided, thus saving on costs.
- Explains that land and property are often used as security against any loan. evidence suggests that a sound title with the ability to raise long-term credit can give rise to substantial increase in productivity.
- Proposes support for land taxation and improving revenue collection through a clearer identification of all land parcels and their owners.
- Defines housing investment as the process of construction by using materials and technology that are available. major improvements consist of demolition and construction of a new one.
- Explains that religious land tenure system is generally operated in islamic countries under four main land categories.
- Defines land tenure regularization as a deliberate process aimed at bringing informal and unauthorized settlements within the official legal formal and administrative systems of land management.
- Explains the policy of recognizing and legalizing informal settlements by governments and local authorities in many parts of the world has the following objectives.
- Explains that formalization has some disadvantages, such as unaffordable land prices and rental values for poor urban settlers, higher cost to the responsible authority to maintain and update the registers than it generates revenue.
- Explains that land titling programs have been encouraged in policy circles as a potent antipoverty tool. chome and mccall (2005) support legalization of tenure in informal settlements because of the benefits involved.
- Explains that shantytowns provide a temporary, cheap living space for rural migrants seeking their fortune in cities. studies suggest that people who have lived in slums, trying to expand financially, have moved on to bigger and better things.
- Explains that shantytowns cause an increase in pollution, the spreading of infectious diseases, and promote child labor.
- Explains that shantytowns are dangerously overcrowded because people live in close quarters to each other. poor sanitation and limited health care lead to the spread of disease.
- Explains that shantytowns are deprived areas on the outskirts of cities consisting of large numbers of crude dwellings.
- Argues that the most strategic way to address the growth of shantytowns is to try to improve life and living conditions.
- Explains that alsayyad defined urban informality as a sequence of informal socio-economic processes that shape the formal urban setting into informal urban environment.
- Explains the definition of the urban informal economy, which refers to the production and employment that takes place in unincorporated small or unregistered enterprises and to employment without legal and social protection.
- Explains that most developing countries are facing rapid population growth and high rate of urbanization which has resulted in an increase of pressure on public services and changes to spatial composition.
- Explains that south africa's spatial landscape was shaped by colonial rule and apartheid planning system to serve the economic needs of the minority class and prevent the majority access to economic opportunities.
- Explains how people are distributed over an area of land- people/square kilometer.
- Explains that sediments can make soil fertile and this is helpful as people can cultivate crops better (eg nile delta in egypt).
- Opines that harsh climate will be unfavorable for crops and living conditions because change in environment can affect lifestyles.
- Explains that technology refers to knowledge, skills, and tools people use to meet their daily needs.
- Explains that broad bases indicate a high number of young people- this means the birth rate is high and the population growth is rapidly increasing and expanding.
- Explains that narrow apexes indicate there are few elderly dependants and that the death rate is high (short life expectancy).
- Explains that narrow bases indicate a fewer number of young dependants, which means population growth is declining and the birth rate is low.
- Opines that large middle bulges indicate a large number of economically active people. this means that there is an active working population that can support the young and elderly dependants.
- Explains that broader apexes indicate an increasing number of elderly dependants in proportion to the young – this means the death rate is low (longer life expectancy).
- Explains that the population has a rectangular shape, with almost equal distribution at most age groups.
- Opines that this indicates a more very balance among the various age groups.
- Explains health care = immunisation, nutritional knowledge, availability of community hospitals, etc aimed at improving the quality of life.
- Explains that people in less developed countries are less educated and may be ignorant about family planning methods.
- Opines that deep-rooted traditional beliefs or religious beliefs – need sons.
- Explains that in some societies, sons are seen as carrying on the family name.
- Explains that sons can continue to work in farms unlike daughters who move out upon marriage.
- Explains that less developed countries suffer from food shortages due to the growing population may result in malnutrition & starvation.
- Analyzes the competition for housing, especially in cities of less developed countries, which do not have enough housing for their growing population.
- Explains that such settlements have overcrowded living conditions and do not have electricity, clean water & sanitation which will result in spread of diseases.
- Opines that with more babies born each year there needs to be sufficient schools to provide a basic education.
- Opines that less developed countries may lack the funds to build schools or hire teachers to educate the young.
- Explains that there is only a limited number of jobs available and this results in high unemployment rates and crime rates.
- Estimates 30 million new jobs need to be created in the world every year if every new person reaching working age is to have a job.
- Opines that more people means more resources are being used, which results in more waste generated.
- Explains that population growth refers to a change in population size.
- Explains that population density is a measurement of the number of people in an area. cities tend to have high population densities and areas like deserts and forests have low populations.
- Opines that we have come dangerously close to accepting rising homelessness as a problem we can't solve.
- Narrates how laurie baker applied low-cost housing techniques to kerala in the 1970s. he proposed building strong and permanent houses that could withstand the storms and end seasonal homelessness.
- Opines that india has not succeeded in solving the problem of housing the homeless, even after 70 years of independence.
- Explains that homelessness represents the most obvious and severe manifestation of the absence of fulfilment of human right to adequate housing.
- Explains that the primary cause of homelessness is the widening housing affordability gap, which includes inadequate income supports, displacement, physical and mental illness, job loss, child abuse, and domestic violence.
- Argues that in order to succeed in the land restitution process, the colombian government must overcome the adverse conditions that both the inequitable agrarian structure and the widespread presence of paramilitary groups have generated for poor peasants' livelihoods.
- Analyzes how the inequitable agrarian structure and the paramilitary phenomenon are intertwined elements that affect people's access to resources and livelihood strategies in rural contexts.
- Argues that the contradictory nature of land policies has consolidated an exclusionary agrarian structure that constrains poor peasants' life conditions.
- Analyzes how the state has not been able to enforce peasants' favorable policies due to two factors: 1) the government has formulated ambitious policies without adequate resources; 2) the local "institutional landscape" in rural colombia is characterized by the competition among several actors seeking to control the institutional landscape.
- Analyzes how the paramilitary phenomenon is a reactionary extension of the latifundio structure.
- Explains that paul collier's book is about the future of the world. he is concerned with 58 countries that constitute about one billion people, which are diverging and falling apart when everyone else is growing.
- Analyzes collier's argument that all bottom billion countries are stuck in at least one of four developmental traps — conflict, natural resources, landlocked with bad neighbors, and bad governance in a small country.
- Analyzes collier's argument that the bottom billion pose a real security and economic drain against the rest of the world. the realist view would agree that it is in the developed countries’ best interests to insure the success of these failed states.
- Analyzes collier's analysis of the state in terms of individual conflict traps, pointing out there are more trade schemes than countries and the average african country is in four, usually incompatible, arrangements.
- Analyzes how collier's argument touches on the idea of state sovereignty, which is a difficult subject because infringing upon another state’s sovereignty is not desirable.
- Analyzes how collier's book, the bottom billion, lacks a formal citations and reference section while avoiding wordy statistical analyses. economic data on the bottom billion are unreliable and patchy at best.
- Argues that collier's book portrays the second weakness of not considering environmentally responsible methods for encouraging bottom billion nations to participate in the global marketplace.
- Opines that collier's argument is about privileged trade against asian markets for bottom billion countries. they argue for export diversification aided by tariffs lower than asians.
- Opines that collier's book is an excellent survey of how diverging countries of the world are stuck in their traps and potential avenues for action.
- Explains that the bottom billion: why the poorest countries are failing and what can be done about it. oxford: oxford university press, 2007.
- Explains that squatter settlement households belong to the lower income group, either working as wage labor or in various informal sectors.
- Explains that plup is an interactive and integrated process to realize high level of participation in land use planning projects and provide local community greater control over the process of development.
- Argues that plup is an innovative and responsive tool for improving tenure security of the urban poor for sustainable development.
- Explains that land tenure security and land use planning have an interrelationship.
- Explains that participatory land use planning is a practice in improving both ‘perceived’ and ‘de facto’ tenure security.
- Analyzes how logan and lolotch use 'compare and contrast' structure to build and enhance their argument. they draw out the drawbacks and weaknesses of neoclassical economic theory and marxist theory in determining the working mechanism of the market.
- Analyzes how mike davis seeks to answer what characteristics and types of slums are prevalent in different parts of the world.
- Analyzes how chris abani's quotes set the tone for the chapter. davis dedicates the first two paragraphs to build credibility and validity of the report.
- Analyzes how davis examines the different slum typologies and depicts an analytic simplification from locally important features.
- Analyzes how davis uses factual data, charts, and graphs to portray the prevalence of slums throughout the world.
- Explains that slums are informal and poor houses, low-income residents, and unemployed people. sampson describes washington park as having the highest foreclosure rate.
- Analyzes how mike davis presents a multidimensional approach of understanding slums that encompasses peri-urban shantytowns as well as archetypal inner-city tenements.
- Explains that some third world cities emulate chicago-style urban segregation. in chicago, major government interventions such as phdcn and cha housing projects have relocated residents from one place to another.
- Explains that poor communities like predominantly black neighborhoods with the least resources are taking on added burdens disproportionately, reinforcing preexisting inequality.
- Analyzes how sampson's study shows that community based acts that invoke collective efficacy and collective civic engagement have significantly lowered violence and enhanced community development.
- Explains that property valuation challenges in africa are multi-dimensional, all-around and interlinked. dale (2000) refers to valuation as one of the cornerstones of a vibrant and functional property market.
- Explains that real estate and valuation degree programs lack depth in terms of the scope of syllabuses, exacerbated by incompetence and underqualified teaching staff.
- Opines that the challenges should include financial constraint to facilitate compensation in expropriation and indication of financial source to solve the problem.
- Explains that lack of property price indices contributes to wide margins of valuation figures in many african countries.
- Real property
- Land tenure
- Real property law
- Allodial title
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Background of the Study
Urbanization is a dynamic socio-economic force which has considerable temporal and spatial variations (Ali & Mustaquim, 2007). In the developed countries of Europe and North America, urbanization has been a consequence of industrialization and has been associated with economic development. By contrast, in the developing countries of Latin America, Africa, and Asia, urbanization has occurred as a result of high natural urban population increase and massive rural-to-urban migration (Brunn and Williams, 1983:4). A slum involves much more than housing, deficient sanitary and hygienic facilities, over-crowding and congestion by which it is characterized (Clinard, 1970).
The involvement of the informal settlers is immensely evident in the urban areas. These slums are usually located along the waterways, dump sites, under the bridges, danger zones and the like. In which case, the government has appointed the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) to tear down these slums and relocate its population at a resettlement site. On another note, legislators, too, have written some policies for the informal settlers and their needs.
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Waterways have been clogged by garbage and human waste that stop the water from flowing. Recently, floods claimed many lives and had increased its height from gutter level to waist or chest level.
The government could not afford to spend a lot for flood victims which mostly were informal settlers along the waterways. The main causes of informal settlements are economic, religion, and politics. People from the rural areas are attracted for the great fortune that urban settlers could made. They migrated to the urban areas and tried their luck.
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Some were due to religion in the case of Hinduism where in there is a caste system that do not recognize the people from the outcast or untouchables. While others because of their political ideology. We aim to supply the necessary and sufficient knowledge for future researchers and for the public regarding the policies on informal settlements. Through this paper, anyone could understand the social vulnerability of these informal settlers especially those who are living along the waterways.
Significance of the Study
The significance of “Policy Study on Informal Settlement: Waterways as Concept” is that: it could be a learning paradigm for the public to enhance their knowledge about the general considerations of informal settlement along the waterways and also to gain knowledge regarding its importance. This study would provide information about the issues on rapid urbanization and inadequate capability to cope up with the housing needs of people in urban areas and on how it have contributed to the development of informal settlements. Living in these settlements often poses significant health risks. Access to health and other services may be limited; overcrowding could contribute stress, violence and increased problems of drugs and other social problems to the society.
Together, these pose special risks to children both during the prenatal period and after birth. This indicator provides a general measure of these risks. To future researchers, the proposed study will benefit and help them as their reference or guide in conducting a more developed study about informal settlement. As Asian Studies major, we will gain knowledge about what is the condition of informal settlers here in the Philippines. We will also know about the policies that cover informal settlers. We will also be able to know the government agencies that monitor the effectiveness of these policies.
Statement of the Problem
1. The policies for informal settlers.
2.1 The implementation and effectiveness of these policies.
2.2 The benefits of these policies and how it affects the social vulnerabilities of these informal settlers.
Definition of terms
1. Policy study – applies a social science perspective to questions of policy and management in modern organizations. It acquires a solid grounding in policy analysis and the policy process. (University of New South Wales)
2. Informal settlement – areas where groups of housing units have been constructed on land that the occupants have no legal claim to, or occupy illegally; unplanned settlements and areas where housing is not in compliance with current planning and building regulations. (Glossary of Environment Statistics, Studies in Methods)
3. Waterway – a river, canal, or other body of water serving as a route or way of travel or transport. (Legal Dictionary)
4. Urbanization – refers to a process in which an increasing proportion of an entire population lives in cities and the suburbs of cities. (Faculty of Fairfield)
5. Social Vulnerability – is one dimension of vulnerability to multiple stressors and shocks, including abuse, social exclusion and natural hazards. It refers to inability of people, organizations and societies to withstand adverse impacts from multiple stressors to which they are exposed. (Peacock and Ragsdale, 1997)
6. Ordinance – an ordinance is a law passed by a municipal government. It constitutes the subject matter of municipal law. (Legal Dictionary)
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- EMHS: Go Beyond the Classroom
Informal Settlers and Disasters
Overview and background.
More than a billion people live in marginal and informal settlements, many without access to basic services, and very frequently in high-risk areas. Their vulnerability to disaster events is often compounded by a lack of infrastructure, environmental degradation, and increasing challenges exacerbated by climate change and sea level rise. If there is so much technology for prediction and prevention, why do governments/donors continue to struggle with losses in the same communities, disaster after disaster? Evidence in the scientific community leads us to believe the answer to this question lies in the process of how human settlements are established and the underlying factors that encourage the population within those communities to establish in high risk areas.
Traditionally, this problem has been addressed by trying to relocate or upgrade the high risk communities. However, efforts to implement relocation and upgrade projects without multi-stakeholder participation and evaluation of complex social, economic and cultural factors that create and sustain such settlements often results in failure- the resistance of the population. This leads to a waste of government and donor resources and time with little to no significant improvement on the problem.
Over the course of three field research trips to the Philippines and Chile, one of our faculty/staff research teams (Dr. Cuadra, Dr. Dilling, and Ms. Samples, along with Dr. Brower from PA on two of the trips) delved into the benefits and dilemmas encountered during implementation of relocation and upgrade programs designed to safeguard informal settlements from natural phenomena. Their research effort was specifically focused on the social, cultural and economic reasons that influence informal settlers’ resistance, mistrust and ultimate abandonment of relocation sites and withdrawal from upgrade projects. The work included collection and analysis of qualitative data from in depth community and government/donor interviews, focus groups, archival research and field observations. Their findings have been presented and published in a number of venues, as seen at the bottom of this page.
A well-known approach to low income communities living in high risk areas is relocation either before or after a disaster event; according to Jha et al. (2010) relocation remains one of the most common project endeavors in post-disaster recovery. In San Francisco Libre, a community by Lake Managua in Nicaragua, the local government has undertaken a massive relocation project since the 2011 floods that left several coastal families without homes. In this study, we describe the current conditions and challenges for the relocated families and provide discussion about efforts by local government officials to provide much needed services on reduced budgets. This research benefits from field observations and interviews with government officials and families from the affected communities. Horwood and Phillips (2007) observes that in developing countries like Nicaragua, relocation projects do not succeed due to the rigid small design of relocation housing as well as lack of appropriate land and services. Knowledge about relocation practices and outcomes can help inform current practice and improve project development to provide effectively for low income families in developing countries.
Related Publications and Presentations
Cuadra, J and Dilling, J. “Relocation of Disaster-prone Informal Settlements: Development Opportunity or Perpetuation of Poverty?” ACSP 2015, USA Brower, R, Dilling, J, Cuadra, J. “Diverse Forms of Voluntary Action for Disaster Resilience: Evidence from the Philippines” ISTR-AP 2015 Japan Cuadra, J, Dilling, J, Brower, R and Samples, M. “Current Relocation Practices Targeting Disaster Prone Communities in Developing Countries: Case Study San Francisco Libre, Nicaragua”. TIEMS Japan 2014. Published: Journal of Disaster Research Vol.10No.2: Special Issue 2015 Dilling, J, Brower, R, Cuadra, J, and Samples, M. “Informal Settlers, Government Officials, and Disaster Vulnerability: Experience from the Philippines” ICCEM 2014 Portugal. Keynote Presentation. Published: Journal of Safety and Crisis Management Vol 4 2014 Brower. Ralph S., Dilling, Janet, Magno, Francisco, A, Evolving and Implementing a New Disaster Management Paradigm: The Case of the Philippines, Book Chapter in Disasters and Development (Kapucu and Liou, eds). 2013 Dilling, Janet, Brower, Ralph, Cuadra, Judith, and Samples, Malaika. “The Dilemma of Informal Settlers in the Philippines” 2013 Conference on Crisis and Emergency Management, Cheongiu, Korea. Dilling, Janet, Brower, Ralph, Cuadra, Judith, and Samples, Malaika. “Informal Settlers, Government Officials, and Disaster Vulnerability: Experience form the Philippines” Published: IREM Journal, Fall, 2013. Brower, Ralph, Dilling, Janet, Cuadra, Judith, Obaid, Zia, and Samples, Malaika, “ NGOs as Brokers: Negotiating the Space Between High Risk Human Settlements and Government Relocation Policies”, ARNOVA 2013. Cuadra, Judith, Samples, Malaika, Brower, Ralph, and Dilling, Janet, “Just and Safe Housing for Informal Settlers in the Developing World, 3rd International Conference on Disaster Management and Human Health, July 2013, A Coruna, Spain. Dilling, Janet, Brower, Ralph, Cuadra, Judith, and Samples, Malaika, “Key Factors that Prolong High Risk Settlements”, Proceedings of the International Conference on Interdisciplinary Studies of Natural and Social Sciences, Beijing, P.R. China, December, 2012. Cuadra, Judith, Brower, Ralph, Dilling, Janet, and Samples, Malaika, “High Risk Human Settlements: Tensions between Local Traditions and Government Policy”, Proceedings of the 2012 International Conference on Crisis and Emergency Management, Global Considerations of Crisis, Disasters, and Risk, Tallahassee, October 2012. Brower, Ralph S., Dilling, Janet, and Magno, Francisco, A., “Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction into Broader Development Goals in the Philippines”, Proceedings of the 2012 International Conference on Crisis and Emergency Management, Global Considerations of Crisis, Disasters, and Risk, Tallahassee, October 2012.
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Strategies for Improving Informal Settlements
Global Health Equity Research in Translation brings academic research to broader audiences: decision makers, policy makers, advocacy groups, philanthropists, and journalists. The series draws on transdisciplinary health equity research completed with the support of the Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity at the University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.
Strategies for Improving Informal Settlements, Issue 2 of Global Health Equity Research in Translation Series, explores how inequities in affordable shelter are propelling the prevalence of informal settlements. Drs. Korydon Smith and Tomà Berlanda's book Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda: Architectural Inquiries and Prospects for a Developing African City provide recommendations for the improvement of informal settlements. Issue 2 highlights five key takeaways to improve informal settlements.
I. UNMET NEED FOR AFFORDABLE SHELTER PROPELS THE CONTINUING PREVALENCE OF INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS
A billion people—one-sixth of the world’s population—live in informal settlements. 1 This number is forecast to double in the next decade, as increasing numbers of refugees from armed conflict and climate change seek safer environments, and as economic migrants continue to pursue opportunity in urbanizing areas. Though informal settlements offer at least some degree of promise to their residents, they also lack basic infrastructure to support health and wellness, including clean water, adequate sewage systems, durable housing, and public spaces for commerce and recreation. Additionally, informal settlements are frequently overcrowded and situated in political conflict zones, eco-sensitive environments, and locations vulnerable to extreme weather events (e.g., cyclones, hurricanes, and unusually-severe heat or cold) and natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes and flooding).
Responses to the Challenges of Informal Settlements are Varied and Evolving
For decades, governments in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) have responded to informal settlements with a range of approaches, including denying their existence, reacting with benign indifference, evicting residents, and demolishing settlements in whole or in part. More recently, it has been understood that eviction and demolition do not address the cultural and material realities that drive the creation and expansion of informal settlements; this trend has prompted increasing interest in improving informal settlements and attempting to formalize land tenure for residents of these communities.
As a consequence, to ameliorate informal settlements, local governments in LMICs have commissioned remediation plans from architectural and urban planning firms, many of which are from high resource countries. Unfortunately, in developing plans and interventions, many such firms are not mindful of the economic limitations of LMICs, and also do not take into account the lived-experiences of people who reside in informal settlements. While geographically focused, Korydon Smith and Tomà Berlanda’s book Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda: Architectural Inquiries and Prospects for a Developing African City 2 offers architects, planners, and policy makers strategies and principles—rather than prescriptions—to guide the improvement of informal settlements worldwide.
Photograph of steep hillside settlement in Kigali. Typical neighborhoods and buildings in Kigali are in strong contrast with other proposed plans and visions. Source: R. Campbell, 2011
Photograph of urban street with drainage ditch and entries to homes and businesses. Source: K. Smith, 2011
- akabande - small occassionally-flooded valley
- guturana - to be neighbors
- ikibanza - land (especially referring to modified or constructed land, site, or property)
- ubukonde - traditional land-tenure system based on occupancy
- umuryango wo mu kuruganiriro - doorway connecting sitting/living space to semi-public courtyard
II. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF INFORMAL SETTLEMENTS FROM PREVIOUS RESEARCH
Smith and Berlanda affirm a number of principles for improving informal settlements from previous research. John Lupala 3 has seven recommendations for neighborhood design in informal African cities: (1) contain city sprawl; (2) create tenure systems through land pooling and replotting; (3) effect participatory and incremental regularizing of “informal urban types” and properties; (4) implement localized planning and improved information management systems; (5) identify appropriate housing forms for the city’s future; (6) reduce plot sizes; and (7) regularize and improve exterior public spaces.
Additionally, Janice Perlman 4 sets forth eight recommendations for the improvement of informal settlements: (1) provide a variety of housing options in regards to tenure and payment, such as short-term rental, long-term lease, cohousing, and financed purchase; (2) invest in education, healthcare, and social services for people, not just in infrastructure and buildings; (3) involve the community in planning and ongoing decisions; (4) provide a stronger government presence in informal settlements; (5) continue improving and integrating previous government-sponsored projects and fringe neighborhoods; (6) prevent rogue developers and landlords from conducting fraudulent property sales and housing rental practices; (7) secure land and housing in anticipation of future migration and population growth; and (8) foster expansion and increased density according to the long-term needs of the city and the best interests of the residents.
Plan and perspectival sketch of urban informal commerce. Source: S. Annable, 2011
Plan of student-proposed neighborhood with public spaces, housing, and retaining walls. Integrated with the retaining walls, the first phase of development, are public amenities such as stairs, restrooms, and fresh water. Source: S. Annable, 2011
III. POLICY TAKE-AWAYS: SMITH AND BERLANDA’S RECOMMENDATIONS TO PRACTITIONERS AND POLICYMAKERS
- Planners and architects should adopt an ethnographic approach to their work. Start with the granular elements of an informal settlement before attempting its overall redesign. It’s crucial to document the residents’ daily usage of both public and private physical spaces. One should also learn place and space names in the local vernacular, and translate these terms to understand the values, needs, and practices associated with public and private spaces. See how the social order is scaled up to form larger and larger spatial patterns.
- Look for the underlying order, logic, and creativity in informal settlements. Attend to diversity of use and activity. When assessing what needs to be improved in an informal settlement, assume that there is wisdom—rather than happenstance and chaos—to its form. Be alert for many strategies that architects and planners from the Global North seek in urban design, including mixed use development; urban agriculture; environmentally-sensitive design; and spatial plans that promote walking.
- Demographics matter. Improvements to both informal and formal settlements should anticipate the specific needs of its residents. For example, in Kigali, some 42.4% of the population is under 15 years of age, which means improved informal settlement designs should anticipate multi-child households and include public recreational spaces, day care venues, schools, and footpath safety.
- Water and improved sanitation and hygiene (WaSH) are the biggest planning and design concerns of informal settlements and adjacent formal settlements as well. The prioritization of inclusive access to WaSH should be encouraged.
- When commissioning guidelines to improve informal communities, governments should identify their resources before contractors begin their planning efforts. This should include not just financial resources but also other resources available to the government, such as the workforce and equipment that can be furnished by public sector divisions, NGO partners that can contribute with materials and volunteer labor, and the presence of local skilled workers. For example, the state might have the financial means to clear the land and lay the foundation for a development; an NGO might construct the posts and floors; and local laborers/future residents could complete the building envelope and do finishing work. For their part, planners and architects working in LMICs should develop phased and flexible implementation plans that take into account the resources and material constraints of the local government.
This brief is extracted from research originally published by the University of Arkansas Press.
Dr. Lisa Vahapoğlu
Vahapoğlu, Lisa. Strategies for Improving Informal Settlements. Global Health Equity Research in Translation . Eds. Frimpong Boamah, Kordas, and Raja. Community of Excellence in Global Health Equity, October 2019
Smith, Korydon H., and Tomà Berlanda. I nterpreting Kigali, Rwanda: Architectural Inquiries and Prospects for a Developing African City . The University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 2018.
Dr. Emmanuel Frimpong Boamah, Dr. Katarzyna Kordas, and Dr. Samina Raja
Design and Production
Nicole Little and Jessica Scates
 With less of a derogatory connotation than alternatives such as squatter settlement, shantytown, favela, or ghetto, “informal settlement” is the preferred contemporary term to refer to unplanned, improvised human settlements without legal tenure systems and public infrastructure.
 Smith, Korydon H., and Tomà Berlanda. Interpreting Kigali, Rwanda: Architectural Inquiries and Prospects for a Developing African City. The University of Arkansas Press, Fayetteville, 2018.
 John M. Lupala, Urban Types in Rapidly Urbanizing Cities: Analysis of Formal and Informal Settlements in Dar es Salaam (PhD dissertation: Kungl Tekniska Högskolan [Royal Institute of Technology], Stockholm, Sweden, 2002, p. 250.
 Janice Perlman, Favela: Four Decades of Living on the Edge in Rio de Janeiro , Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010.
 Smith and Berlanda point out that the term informal settlements refers to the absence of a higher order governing the settlement—for example, governance, land titling, and a predetermined urban plan. However, the word informal also implies an absence of form, custom, and order, none of which are necessarily true.
No. 28 / Can Designers Improve Life in Non-Formal Cities?
Improving informal settlements: ideas from latin america, christian werthmann , john beardsley.
United Nations estimates suggest that nearly one billion people now live in slums worldwide—one-sixth of the planet’s population. Without concerted action, the number is expected to double by 2030. Categorical terms like slum , however, can disguise signiﬁcant cultural and economic distinctions among low-income settlements. Variously known as informal or non-formal cities , squatter settlements , or shantytowns , these communities differ dramatically in size, character, age, and level of political and social organization; they are found in both rural and urban areas, although they are increasingly associated with the world’s largest cities, especially in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Informal urban settlements appear in city centers and on their peripheries; they result both from traditional squatting and from a kind of “pirate urbanism”: they don’t conform to zoning or service regulations and are enabled by bribes, populist governments, or property speculators who hope for eventual regularization and compensation for their investment. Notwithstanding their variations, however, these places share some characteristics: inadequate housing, insufﬁcient living space, insecure land tenure, and lack of access to basic services, especially clean water and sanitation.
In recent years, prevailing strategies for addressing non-formal settlements have shifted away from large-scale slum clearance and relocation, which have been demonstrated to cause massive social disruptions. The approach favored today is on-site upgrading and improvement, with the goal of integrating low-income communities into their larger urban contexts. There may be something inevitable about this: there are so many informal settlements around the world and many of them are so big and so old that it is becoming impractical to think of removing them entirely, especially since sufﬁcient vacant land is scarce. Improving informal settlements, though more cumbersome and arguably more expensive than building right in the ﬁrst place, has the advantage of leaving intact the economic and social networks that residents have created for themselves. As yet, however, there is no clear set of best practices for these upgrades, which range from small “acupunctural” insertions to expansive infrastructural improvements, from familiar government-led programs to designer-initiated projects.
The work presented in the pages that follow suggests the various ways that contemporary designers in Latin America are attempting to upgrade informal settlements physically without destroying them socially, saving what they can of their physical structure while alleviating environmental and social problems ranging from inadequate public space and housing to unemployment, insecure land tenure, and poor sanitation. The selection uses landscape as the particular lens through which to examine these settlements: their occupation of marginal lands, including ﬂoodplains, ravines, and steep slopes; their proximity to damaged or toxic sites, including sewage canals, industrial facilities, and landﬁlls; their typical separation from urban landscape infrastructure, whether roads, transportation, sewers, water supply, or storm-water management; their severe environmental, public health, and security problems; and their lack of public facilities for economic, cultural, or recreational activities. Landscape is conceived both as the primary problem in these communities and as the main opportunity for intervention and improvement. Built work and proposed projects by both recognized and emerging designers are included in this selection.
Why focus on Latin America? Beyond geographical and cultural coherence and shared colonial and postcolonial histories, there are several reasons to focus on this region. Primary is the fact that some of the world’s most interesting current efforts to improve the conditions of non-formal cities are occurring there. The restoration of civilian rule in some countries and the rise of populist governments in others have moved the plight of the poor forward on the political agenda. Growing economies have provided improved ﬁnancial means to consider community-improvement programs, despite signiﬁcant and in many places widening gaps between the rich and the poor. Many of Latin America’s largest cities, including Mexico City, Buenos Aires, São Paolo, and Rio de Janeiro, have among the world’s largest urban GDPs when measured by “purchasing power parity” exchange rates. At the same time, Latin America has some of the world’s highest “Gini coefﬁcients,” which measure disparity in income and wealth distribution. Squatter settlements in Latin America would thus seem to be as much an expression of inequality as of absolute poverty. And although this region has some of the world’s highest rates of urbanization, slum growth today in many parts of the continent is slowing, according to the UN-Habitat report, State of the World’s Cities 2006/7 . 1 Settlements are consolidating, and many countries are beginning to provide residents with access to land tenure and services. All in all, Latin America represents a laboratory for slum upgrading that might provide a model for other parts of the world.
What can we learn from this work? To begin with, we need to acknowledge the difﬁculties of generalizing about it. Differing topographies, social and economic conditions, cultural traditions, and levels of physical development all require different strategies. Moreover, some communities are safe to work in; others are zones of conﬂict between police and drug dealers that make it all but impossible for designers to work. The strong involvement of government at all levels facilitates improvements in some countries, such as Brazil. Charismatic leaders can catalyze efforts in others—as in the Colombian cities of Bogotá and Medellín. In some places, however, the relative absence of government leadership makes upgrades more problematic; in those cities, designers are taking a more activist or entrepreneurial approach, generating theoretical projects or funding their own initiatives, often in conjunction with non-governmental and community-based organizations.
In any event, working in the informal sector requires designers and their critics to focus as much on process as on product, since there is often more complex thought in these projects than is evident in the ﬁnal built work. The efforts of the Caracas ﬁrm Arqui 5 are emblematic of this fact: they developed elaborate and well-conceived plans for upgrading the entire San Rafael-Unido neighborhood—part of the vast La Vega barrio—including a new “urban facade” that would provide slope stabilization while offering commercial development, a preschool, apartments, and a community center. The project won a gold medal from the Holcim Foundation for Sustainable Construction in 2006, but only several sets of stairs linked with small public spaces were actually built. Construction of the community center was halted midway—mostly because of political gridlock. 2 The project was notable for community involvement in the design process—75% of residents had to approve (in writing) the upgrades—but it also reveals the importance of engaging all the stakeholders in a community, from neighborhood associations and community-based organizations to the highest levels of government. In the absence of someone to build consensus, designers might be forgiven for ﬁnding this too time-consuming and demanding—not to mention professionally and ﬁnancially unrewarding.
This is to say: We need to recognize the many ways that this work can be problematic. It addresses numerous economic, environmental, infrastructural, and social failures of recent urban policies; it often involves the messy procedures of community design and the compromises of political action. At the same time, it is arguably complicit in neoliberal policies that favor small self-help initiatives, micro-enterprises, and market-based solutions over more ambitious, state-sponsored programs that might have a larger impact. In addition, it is not yet clear whether upgrading can achieve signiﬁcant permanent improvements or will merely perpetuate social and spatial inequalities, with large percentages of the population packed into disproportionately small areas with still limited services.
Moreover, upgrades to informal settlements are invariably partial, provisional, and experimental. They rely on the idea of replicability: solutions developed for one site can be used at another. But given the scale of informal settlements and their considerable variation, can success be measured by the mere potential for replication, or should projects be considered beneﬁcial only when replicability is proven? Many of these projects depend on the notion that small-scale improvements will inspire other, larger upgrades, both individual and public. This theory might be dependable in the formal city, but it has yet to be proven valid for informal contexts, where anxiety about tenure and safety will surely hinder subsequent investments. Signiﬁcant improvement in low-income communities can be achieved only through a combination of small-scale, local initiatives and massive upgrades to sanitation, transportation, and employment infrastructures, which have to be orchestrated at the national and international levels. Absent the larger initiatives, the small-scale insertions might legitimately be criticized as appeasements more than substantial improvements.
We need to continue to question the assumptions upon which this work is based. For instance, is it really appropriate to introduce elements of the formal city into the non-formal context? Is public space as conceived in the formal city relevant to informal settlements? Or should it be reconceptualized? Passive recreation of the sort that characterizes landscapes in the formal city is not a priority in informal contexts. Public space can even be considered dangerous: In San Rafael-Unido, residents conveyed to Arqui 5 their anxieties that new public space would simply provide more opportunities for vagrants and drug dealers. Facilities for active recreation are generally more suitable to informal settlements than spaces for passive occupation, especially in places with large populations of teenagers with limited educational and employment opportunities. But we might have to push our conceptions of public space even beyond this, to a notion of productive space, including market facilities, community kitchens and laundries, and places for cultural expression—like Rio’s samba schools. And we need to think about long-term maintenance and community identiﬁcation with upgrade projects. Facilities that don’t inspire a sense of community ownership are soon degraded or vandalized. Spaces that generate economic beneﬁts typically inspire a keener support, as do projects that contribute to environmental improvement in some way, like river cleaning or reforestation programs.
Whatever the problems and limitations of these upgrading initiatives, given the current economic and political climate, they might be a designer’s most viable mode of practice in the non-formal city. There is certainly much to admire in this work. Particularly laudable is the fact that its focus mostly has shifted away from simple, one-dimensional projects toward programs that address multiple conditions and needs. Whereas designers and public ofﬁcials might once have thought just in terms of improved housing, many now recognize that providing housing by itself isn’t an adequate response: It has to be paired with improvements in transportation, job training, health, and safety. In Bogotá, the focus has been on equalizing rights to the city through improved facilities and circulation within barrios and express-bus links from the barrios to employment and recreation opportunities in the formal city. In São Paolo, the emphasis has been on sanitary upgrades to settlements surrounding the city’s reservoirs to improve public health in both formal and informal communities. Overall, it is increasingly apparent that landscape is a crucial element in these projects: Upgrading is less a matter of individual buildings than of creating habitable environments and improved urban ecologies.
Where do we go from here? We have two chief areas of concern. One is the severe competition between the expansion needs of informal cities and the protection of ecological and economic resources like farmlands, wetlands, and preservation areas. Witness, for instance, the squatter invasion of the forested slopes of Tijuca National Park in Rio or of the fertile farmlands around Bogotá. How are we to balance a growing population’s right to shelter with the aims of environmental management? Our second concern is about the wisdom of conventional upgrades during a time of climate change: If we bring electricity to hundreds of millions of slum dwellers, for example, should it come from coal-ﬁred plants? Or can we skip antiquated technologies and make low-income settlements models of sustainable development? Already they have smaller environmental footprints than formal cities: They are denser and more walkable with fewer cars and more public transportation. Can the best qualities of these places be retained, even as they are upgraded? We need to work in anticipation of future conditions and constraints.
From the perspective of professional practice, can design work in these communities become self-sustaining? Much of the work is now pro bono. But can and should some other model be developed? When federal programs and international lending agencies are involved, the work can be remunerative. Absent that, it is fair for designers to wonder if they will ever be adequately compensated for their time and effort, especially given the amount of political and community-contact work that is often required. Pedagogy needs to be retooled as well, to shift more educational focus from the formal to the informal, from the developed world to the developing, especially those areas in Africa and Asia where growth in the informal sector is highest.
Our thinking here is exploratory, raising questions more than providing answers. As difﬁcult and complex as conditions are in low-income communities, they provide clues to their own improvement: Residents of non-formal cities often display cultural adaptations and survival strategies that can guide future interventions. Designers are beginning to be able to give spatial form to the environmental, social, and economic ambitions of these communities, helping to marshal the ﬁnancial investment and political will to begin their transformation. In sum, this work explores the relationship between social ethics and creativity in design culture. It advances the hopeful thesis that impoverished contexts do not have to result in a poverty of imagination. No one project is perfect and complete in itself; many are ﬂawed. The important point here is to get the ideas out in the hope of starting to deﬁne best practices. Apart from climate change, there are few greater challenges to widespread planetary health and security than the vast proliferation of non-formal settlements. And, as with addressing climate change, there is no time to waste.
1 . “Latin America and the Caribbean has [sic] almost completed its urban transition; urbanization rates are stabilizing and slum growth rates in the region are slowing down… . In the late 1980s and early 1990s the process of ‘re-democratization’ resulted in the adoption of progressive policies aimed at promoting more inclusive governance and reducing inequalities.” Brazil and Mexico, for instance, have very low slum growth rates (0.34 and 0.49% per year respectively). However, Peru, Haiti, Chile, and Nicaragua are on the opposite end of the spectrum and have relatively high slum growth rates of between 3 and 8%. UN-Habitat, State of the world’s cities 2006 / 7. The Millennium Development Goals and urban sustainability: 30 years of shaping the habitat agenda (London: Earthscan, 2006), 30.
2 . For more on this project, see http:// www.holcimfoundation.org/Portals/1/docs/ 1Awardsbook_0506_pp38-47.pdf .
We want to express our appreciation to our students over the past three years, who have helped us greatly with our research into informal communities. We are particularly grateful to the members of KDI, especially Jennifer Toy and Chelina Odbert, whose experiences in the Kibera settlement in Nairobi have helped shape these remarks.
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Nairobi Informal Settlement Study
Nairobi is the capital city and administrative headquarter of the republic of Kenya, in East Africa. The city is situated 1 0 South and 36 0 East, 87 miles off the Equator. The city is at an altitude of 5,512 feet about sea level and has an area of 266 square miles (Anyamba, 2011, p. 22). Like numerous other cities in the third world economies, Nairobi has witnessed a massive population explosion in the last 4 decades. The city’s population grew from less than 20000 people in the early 60s to about 4 million at the moment (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2001, p. 10).
At a population growth rate of over 6% per annum, Nairobi ranks among the cities with the highest population growth rate in the world. The population growth rate in the city is exceedingly high compared to an average of 3 percent per annum for cities in less developed economies and 2 percent for the global urban growth rate (Ooi & Phua, 2007, p. 27). More than 60 percent of the city’s population lives in low income and informal settlements. According to a UN report, Nairobi’s urban poor lives on less than $1.5 a day with an average monthly income of $ 78. The income is undeniably low bearing in mind the per capita poverty line of one dollar a day (UN-HABITAT, 2006, p. 6).
The city is a paradox. It is among the most significant economic hubs in Africa and contributes nearly three-quarters of the GDP to the economy (Anyamba, 2011, p. 23). Nairobi is also the headquarters of three principal UN organs-UNDP, UNEP and UN-HABITAT. The latter is a human settlement program, which is obligated to promote sustainable cities with enough housing facilities (Anyamba, 2011, p. 25). The city has met several conditions for transparency and good governance; For instance, it has well-recognized institutions, leaders are elected through a democratic process and promotes media freedom. Yet, the majority of the city residents (over 60 percent) lives in informal settlements or slums. The incongruity in the city about shelter and delivery of fundamental service makes it an excellent study area. The study aims to explore the problem of informal settlements in the city of Nairobi from the socio-economic and political points of view (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2002, p. 13).
Informal settlements in the city
The city’s informal settlement is among the most congested, unsafe and filthy in the continent. There are about 200 slums in the city but the worst of the worst is the Kibera slums situated 4 miles from the central business district (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2001, p. 12). According to Anyamba (2011, p. 22), Kibera is probably the worst informal settlement in the world in terms of sanitation, insecurity and population. The slum houses nearly a quarter of the city population (1.2 million people) in less than 650 acres of land. The living condition in Nairobi slums is extremely harsh and overwhelmingly intolerant.
Besides Kibera other prominent city informal settlements include Mukuru, Mathare, Dandora, Soweto and Kawangware (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2001, p. 13). The deprivations faced in these informal settlements are tremendous: extreme congestion, dreadful hygiene, chronic illnesses, undernourishment, and permanent insecurity (Makachia, 2010, p. 3). Most of the residents in these slums are tenants with only 10% of the residents owning the houses they reside in. Life in the informal settlement is extremely hard. The population density is as high as 1500 people per square hectare. A number of them live in shacks that are very small in size.
Basic amenities are extremely scarce or do not even exist (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2002, p. 13). As many as 500 individuals normally share basic facilities, for instance, toilets and bathrooms. Besides wearing down human dignity and a sense of worth, sharing these facilities also causes health and environmental problems (Ooi & Phua, 2007, p. 29). Social amenities/services such as water, power, fuel, schools, hospitals, inadequate housing, and credit facilities are scarce, and the available ones are charged exorbitantly. Cash flow among slum residents is tight; average monthly expenditure hardly ever surpasses $40, of which three quarter is allocated to paying rent. Employment opportunities necessary to sustain such high expenditure are hardly available (UN-HABITAT, 2006, p. 9).
The population density in Nairobi city slums is estimated to be approximately 1500 people per square hectare compared to 270 people in Manhattan, New York. Something important to note is that residents in Manhattan live in large story buildings with ample space, whereas structures in Nairobi slums consist mainly of single or two stories made of iron sheets (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira-Gitau, 2001, p. 14). The structures and the population density sometimes are not the problem, but the unplanned nature of the buildings (Davis, 2006, p. 3).
The general lack of planning in the informal settlement has created numerous challenges for the residents. For instance, the random position of the structures, lack of investment in the infrastructure, and the lack of municipal services have led to countless structures being cut off from electricity, water pipes and roads (UN-HABITAT, 2006, p. 8). The connectivity problem poses service delivery challenges, for instance, waste disposal, management of security matters, emergency response and access to other fundamental services. In other words, whereas high structure density can explain the lack of infrastructure within the informal settlement, high population density within the slums does not validate inadequately or lack of infrastructure (Makachia, 2010, p. 22).
Socioeconomic and Political Factors Behind the Informal Settlement
According to K’Akumu and Olima (2007, p. 91), the preconditions for an informal settlement began even before Kenya attained its independence. Before independence, the colonial government limited the number of natives moving into the city. However, after independence, the ban was lifted but the settlement patterns were reclassified. These settlement patterns created a divide between the rich (mostly whites) and the poor (mostly Africans). Low-income earners were located in the East while the rest of the city was preserved for the rich. These settlement patterns have virtually remained the same up to date (K’Akumu &Olima, 2007, p. 92).
Before the ban was lifted on the number of Africans migrating into Nairobi, the city’s population was less than 300000. However, this number has increased to almost 4 million since then (K’Akumu &Olima, 2007, p. 94). The rising demand for housing units due to the high number of people moving into the city has not been equalled by a sound approach of providing enough houses (Majale & Payne, 2004, p. 2).
As a result, the increase in the number of people migrating into the city gave rise to informal settlements (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2001, p. 45). Syagga, Mitulla and Karira (2001, p. 46) attribute this to a lack of sufficient financial resources and poor management. However, corruption in the city council, spatial segregation within the city and the probability to focus on land, housing and basic services imply that insufficient financial resources and poor management are products of political manipulations (Kanyinga, 2006, p. 5).
The country’s constitution requires that before any land is allocated, it should be advertised and sold to the highest bidder. However, due to Kenya’s system of political patronage, the ability to acquire land does not depend on the constitutional process but political consideration (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2001, p. 47). As a result, land allocation procedures in most parts of the country including the city of Nairobi have characteristically been circumvented to benefit a small group of elites at the expense of the general public (Kanyinga, 2006, p. 6).
Transparency International refers to the distorted allocation of land in the country as land grabbing (Transparency International, 2003, p. 2). Ndung’u land commission set up in 2003 found that more than 200000 illegal land title deeds had been created since independence and the reason behind the illegal allocation of land was political (Ndung’u, 2006, P. 3). The illegal allocation of land in Nairobi city has impacted the real estate market. It has led to skyrocketing land prices and an increase in illegal structures (Kanyinga, 2006, p. 8). The problem of land grabbing and the spiralling land prices have resulted in nearly three-quarters of the city residents living in very congested areas with no access or inadequate services (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2002, p. 15).
The provincial administration is mandated to supervise informal settlements (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2001, p. 78). With no jurisdiction, they are reported to allocate land to individuals in the informal settlement through bribery. Slums in Nairobi city are also known as informal settlements not only because of poor housing structures but also because of the illegal allocation of land (Ndung’u, 2006, P. 3). Due to the illegal allocation of land, most of the residents in the informal settlement are rent paying tenants (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2002, p. 15). Therefore, the city’s informal settlement operates like the official real estate market.
The best example is the Kibera slum which is currently the largest slum in Africa (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2002, p. 15). Most of the people who own houses in this slum are wealthy absentee landlords (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2002, p. 80).
Kanya argued that profitability has also contributed to the spiralling of informal settlements in the city of Nairobi (Kanyinga, 2006, p. 9). He stresses that most of the housing units in Nairobi slums are owned by a few wealthy individuals. For instance, less than five percent of the landlords own more than 25 percent of the houses in Kibera slums. This shows a high level of ownership concentration (Kanyinga, 2006, p. 5).
In addition, the increasing population in Nairobi’s informal settlement imply that landlords, circumventing official laws, take full advantage of their income by developing more housing units. As a result, the number of housing units in the informal settlements have gone up to as high as 300 units per hectare. Furthermore, the widespread building of illegal extensions in the formerly planned estates is nearly turning the whole city into an informal settlement (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2002, p. 80).
The profitability of the formal settlement has also prompted the wealthy landlords to build structures that are below architectural standards to reduce costs and increase rents. Thus, greed for money has also acted as an incentive to offer poor quality housing with inadequate or no basic faculties (UN-HABITAT, 2006, p. 6). Despite the poor conditions of the informal settlement structures, their rents are relatively high (UNDP, 2007, p. 12).
According to the (UN-HABITAT, 2006, p. 7), tenants in the informal settlement normally spend roughly a quarter of their monthly income on rent. Rent comes second to food in the informal settlement. If the country’s law governing rents was applied in the informal settlement, the rates will go down by more than 70 percent. This means that the high cost of low-quality housing in the informal settlement allows the landlords to make 100 profits without tax (UNDP, 2007, p. 12).
The relationship between the structure owners and the provincial administration is cordial; however relationship between the tenants and the structure owners is usually contradictory and is marred by supremacy battle. This is caused by large disparity in the social class. As already been mentioned in the study, most landlords are wealthy and politically connected; while the tenants are poor and can hardly make the ends meet (Gulyani, Talukdar & Porter, 2006, p. 14). To strengthen their economic power the structure owners generally use to approaches: First, is collecting rents through agents. Second, is the use of ethnic mismatch among tenants to minimise preferential treatment on rent payment and to extort exorbitant rent prices (Gulyani, Talukdar & Porter, 2006, p. 14).
In overall, the study shows that the continued existence of informal settlement in the city of Nairobi is mainly attributed to a lack of government intervention on the subject of land, housing and fundamental services, through provision or enacting crucial laws. Although the spiralling of informal settlement has been tackled by slum upgrading programs, the initiative is not enough. The most significant approach is transformation of the prevailing power structures through a political process (Syagga, Mitulla & Karira, 2002, p. 85).
The issue of housing is one of the greatest challenges in the city of Nairobi. Nairobi has some of the worst informal settlements/slums in the continent and probably in the world. The city’s informal settlement holds more than 60 percent of Nairobi’s population. Housing problems in the city of Nairobi started way back even before Kenya attained its independence. The colonialists introduced segregation in terms of social class and race which has persisted up to date. The conditions in the informal settlements are regarded as extremely deplorable and deprives the residents some of their fundamental needs and services. The continued persistence of informal settlement is attributed to distorted allocation of land and housing to a few elite groups by the political class at the expense of the general public.
The illegal allocation of land has not only concentrated land in hands of a few but also led to the increase in the value of land. The exorbitant prices of land have kept it out of reach from the general public who are poor. Therefore, most of the residents in Nairobi’s informal settlements do not own houses/ structures they live in. On the contrary, the houses in the informal settlements are owned by absentee landlords who are rich and have a political connection. The absentee landlords will do anything to strengthen and retain their economic power. For this reason, the main solution to the current spiralling of the informal sector is the transformation of the prevailing power structures through a political process.
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