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7 November 2011
Victoria Cronin discussing urban development with
women and children
Slum household interview in India
Victoria on site Mukuru
Victoria in Kibera
Victoria Cronin, a PhD student in the Centre for Sustainable Development has been researching the sustainability of alternative approaches to slum upgrading in India and Kenya. Case studies in Pune, India and Kibera, Kenya have been investigated to better understand the impact of the different ways that slums are upgraded. She looked at the impact of housing resettlement and in-situ water and sanitation infrastructure improvements upon residentsí quality of life and long-term sustainability for informal urban settlements.
The research findings have drawn light on the impact that different project approaches can have on city wide programmes and individual projects seeking to improve physical urban conditions. Community participation, ownership, operation and management, land tenure, institutional reform and funding mechanisms, are just some of the areas the research has investigated.
Analysis of the data gathered has found that there are many misconceptions around slums which can affect the sustainability of measures to upgrade informal settlements. The way that international development organisations and westerners view slums is often very particular and not always resonant with the way that slum-dwellers view their living situation. Priorities for development are not always consistent across stakeholders. The research highlights the valuable opportunity for the role of appropriate engineering for sustainable urban development, as well as the alleviation of poverty in a developing context.
For sustainability, any slum upgrading activity must be sensitive to the situation of an individual community and culture, and not assume that the residents are always unhappy living in desperate poverty, as it has been shown, many choose to reside in a slum. Slums may be dirty, poorly serviced and overcrowded but are also places of great human energy, community spirit, kindness, hard-working, creative and happy places that many consider home.
An estimated one billion people live in urban slums and this number is increasing by 25 million each year; this means that more than half of the world's poor will live in cities by 2035. A slum or informal settlement is characterised as substandard housing, lacking access to clean water, sanitation and other infrastructure, overcrowding, insecure tenure, unhealthy and hazardous conditions, poverty and social exclusion. In the past poverty was thought to be a rural issue, but the focus of world poverty is now shifting from the rural to the urban context. New slums are forming and existing slums are growing. In poor countries slums make up 30-70% of urban populations. Poor institutional and financial resilience, less robust infrastructure, rapid industrialisation, a reliance on natural resources, strain of population growth and urbanization are some of the causes which lead to the formation of slums.
In 2000, world leaders of the United Nations set Millennium Development Goals with an overarching goal to halve absolute poverty in the world by 2015, and to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020. We are now half way towards the deadline and much more needs to be done to improve the conditions of slums. Approaches to tackle slums can involve physical, social, in-situ and resettlement options. There are numerous housing delivery systems with adaptive and proactive measures. Research is currently being conducted by Victoria Cronin at the Department's Centre for Sustainable Development to investigate the sustainability of alternative approaches to slum upgrading through stakeholder perception in India and Kenya.
The following short films were made during Victoria's PhD fieldwork and portray some of the views of the residents and key stakeholders involved in housing and water & sanitation infrastructure upgrading. The case studies show the influence of 'top-down' and 'bottom-up' delivery models and partnerships on the stakeholders' perception of sustainability. Community consultation, participation, appropriate design, security of tenure and livelihoods generation are some of the issues that differ according to delivery model and which have shown to have a significant impact upon stakeholder's perception of sustainability.
Pune slum upgrading - Kamgar Putla from Victoria Cronin.
In 1997 severe floods affected the residents of Kamgar Putala slum in Pune, India. The slum-dwellers were forced to abandon their homes until the water subsided, and when able to return, many found their homes had completely swept away or been severely damaged. Due to the vulnerable river-side location, the slum floods every year. After the severity of the 1997 floods, residents got together to initiate plans to relocate their community to a safer site in the city. The community asked the local NGO Shelter Associates for help and together they formulated a scheme to build new homes. The community led process has resulted in the relocation of nearly 200 families to new homes in Hadapsar. In 2010, five years after relocation, the residents have been visited to see how they are getting along.
For further information contact Victoria at firstname.lastname@example.org
Other films made based on Victoria's fieldwork in Kenya and India can be seen below:
Developer led slum upgrading in Pune - Nana Peth from Victoria Cronin.
The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) in Pune, India enables property developers to rehabilitate slum-dwellers in-situ and compensates the land-owner and developer by awarding Transferable Development Rights (TDR). The TDR permits the development of other sites in the city and can be sold, thereby making slum upgrading a profitable activity for developers. The new housing follows a high-rise building design using minimal ground footprint and frees up land for commercial building development. The SRA model is a financially sustainable model which requires no government funding and gives new homes to slum dwellers free of cost. This video shows an SRA project at Nanapeth which has been visited five years after the slum dwellers have been re-housed, and shows various stakeholders' perceptions of the sustainability of the slum upgrading.
Kibera : The Voice of the Community, Kenya
Kibera is the largest slum in Kenya and home to approximately 800,000 people living in a congested area of 2.5 square kilometres. The informal settlement has extremely poor standards of water and sanitation infrastructure. This video captures the voices of the residents and youth talking about living in Kibera, their desires for change, and the impact of water and sanitation infrastructure on their lives. The benefits of a new toilet project built by UN-HABITAT are discussed.
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