Forced evictions and unlawful relocations have major impacts on slums and slum dwellers. These include the interruption or destruction of socio-economic networks—consequences that negatively affect not only individual livelihoods, but also potentially the entire city.
Therefore UN-Habitat promotes inclusive pro-poor policies and participatory citywide slum upgrading and prevention strategies which emphasize in-situ upgrading. The concepts discussed in this section enable linkages to broader economic goals and to community investment and improvement programmes undertaken at various levels of government. Furthermore, they help to leverage the potential of the whole city and enable inclusive growth and development. Additionally, they allow for more-focused prioritization and the engagement of diverse investment partners.
Benefits of a participatory, citywide approach
To achieve sustainable transformation, city leaders should take a participatory citywide approach that engages all relevant stakeholders. This allows for joint agreement on principles, aims, and strategies and fosters mutual understanding of the abilities and limitations of each stakeholder. This approach secures commitment from all stake-holders at the outset and makes everyone part of the process, which fosters shared risk-taking. By enabling citizens to take on public responsibilities, it also promotes democratic values. Furthermore, a participatory citywide approach has the potential to trigger engagement of often underrepresented groups, such as women and youth, in urban development and management processes.
A people-centred approach to slum upgrading also fosters economic, social, and environmental resilience among individuals and communities. It identifies the barriers to prosperity communities face and increases their economic potential by providing services and infrastructure, thereby improving the business environment and linking slums’ economic activities to those in the rest of the city. It strength-ens social connections by creating a sense of owner-ship among citizens. And it improves environmental conditions by reducing the potential for damage by floods, landslides, and hurricanes, which can upend several years of development for people and communities in minutes or even seconds.
Multi-level governance coordination mechanisms and capacity development
A people-centred approach to slum upgrading should be complemented by multi-level governance coordination mechanisms and capacity development. In the past, national governments often took the lead in implementing slum upgrading programs. For example, previous slum upgrading programs such as Cities Without Slums in Morocco, the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme (KENSUP), and Minha Casa Minha Vida in Brazil were national schemes rather than city-specific undertakings. Increasing human and financial capacity as well as progressive decentralization and devolution have enabled many cities to take the lead in urban development and management processes, including slum upgrading. Therefore, creating a strong link between national and local government for develop-ing and implementing slum upgrading is essential. In addition, local development committees can support the process by highlighting the issues that need to be addressed, proposing indigenous solutions, and taking part in implementation.
Using the comparative advantage of every level of government has the potential to create complementary top–down and bottom–up efforts to efficiently address slum upgrading. Central governments should ensure national laws and regulations are in place to facilitate slum upgrading, such as land acts, national housing finance schemes, planning regulations, and building codes. Often they are also able to set aside funds for slum upgrading based on general tax revenues and other central government revenue sources, which can then be distributed to local governments. They are also often the stakeholder that negotiates with international development partners for grants and loans. For their part, local governments should ensure that local development plans and strategies address the city-specific issues pertaining to slums and ensure there is sufficient capacity to address them. Local government should also be the main body to coordinate a participatory approach that facilitates exchange among all stakeholders. Their local knowledge of the situation and of the abilities and liabilities of stakeholders is vital to the success of a citywide slum upgrading approach. This also includes ensuring the participation of service providers, which (depend-ing on the country) can be governmental, parastatal, or private entities.
In addition, capacity development and community empowerment are necessary to facilitate full participation in community-driven socio-economic transformation and to leverage local knowledge and experience. Capacity development encompasses, among other things, participatory planning and human rights; community organization; neighbourhood planning; community-driven projects; community data collection, analysis, monitoring, and evaluation; inclusion of vulnerable groups and their particular needs; incremental housing; and strategic projects that build resilience in communities (see Case Study 3).
Women should play an integral part in the capacity-development process, as women are crucial to families’ livelihoods in slum communities. Many households are headed by single women with children and are particularly vulnerable. Special attention should also be given to youths’ potential to boost prosperity and adapt quickly to change and economic opportunities.