informal settlements essay

When planning falls short: the challenges of informal settlements

informal settlements essay

PhD Candidate and Research Assistant in Urban Design, The University of Melbourne

informal settlements essay

PhD Candidate, Australian-German Climate & Energy College, The University of Melbourne

informal settlements essay

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, The University of Melbourne

informal settlements essay

PhD Candidate in Urban Planning, The University of Melbourne

informal settlements essay

Research Fellow, McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne

Disclosure statement

Hesam Kamalipour receives IPRS and APA scholarships from the Australian Government. He is also a Doctoral Academy member at the Melbourne Social Equity Institute (MSEI).

Alexei Trundle receives research funding from the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat), and an Australian Postgraduate Award from the Australian Government.

André Stephan receives funding from the Australian Research Council.

Hayley Henderson receives an APA scholarship from the Australian Government.

Melanie Lowe receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council and the National Environmental Science Programme.

University of Melbourne provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation AU.

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Informal settlements house around one-quarter of the world’s urban population . This means roughly 1 billion urban dwellers live in settlements that have emerged outside of the state’s control.

The Habitat III conference in Quito in October recognised informal settlements as a critical issue for sustainable urban development. But how did informal settlements come to make up such a large part of the world’s cities?

Resorting to informal housing

Rates of urbanisation can fluctuate rapidly and be hard to predict. This makes planning for urban growth a challenge, especially in developing countries, where more than 90% of urban growth is occurring. When data or government capacity is limited, housing shortages often result.

With formal housing too expensive or unavailable, urban migrants must improvise. Many resort to informal housing.

Informal settlements are generally undocumented or hidden on official maps. This is because the state usually sees them as temporary or illegal.

informal settlements essay

Over the past 50 years, governments have tried to deal with these areas in a number of ways. Strategies have included denial, tolerance, formalisation, demolition and displacement.

While efforts to improve settlements and anticipate future ones are becoming more common, the desire for eradication persists in many cities. Forced evictions in various parts of the world are putting the rights of informal settlement dwellers at risk .

Over time, however, it has been recognised that poverty and inequality cannot be simply eradicated through demolition or eviction. In the developing world, one-third of the urban population now lives in slums . In Africa, the proportion is 62%.

Many cities are looking for alternatives that formalise these areas through incremental, on-site upgrading. In addition to offering effective protection against forced evictions, it is critical to provide access to basic services, public facilities and inclusive public spaces.

We need to adopt integrated approaches that cut across urban scales and disciplines. These need to involve stakeholders from government, citizens and other organisations. Design thinking is essential in this process to meet the challenges of urbanisation.

The role of the New Urban Agenda

The Habitat III conference adopted a New Urban Agenda for the United Nations. This document presents a road map for sustainable urban development until Habitat IV in 2036.

While the quality of life for some informal settlement dwellers has improved over recent decades, growing inequality pushes more people into informal housing. As a result, the growth rate of informal settlements often outstrips upgrading processes.

informal settlements essay

The UN Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat) was one of the key agencies involved in Habitat III. Since Habitat II, UN-Habitat has worked extensively on housing and slum upgrading . The New Urban Agenda incorporates lessons from this process.

An example is the need for innovative small investment models for informal housing and their inhabitants’ transport needs. The agenda also acknowledges the informal settlements located in hazard-prone areas. Their inhabitants often need more help with reducing the risks and building resilience.

The way forward

Dealing with informal settlements is an issue of inequality. This inequality is both social and spatial in nature, across cities worldwide.

It is problematic that spatial thinking does not have a high profile in the New Urban Agenda. While urban design by itself cannot reduce social inequality and urban poverty, much can be learned from cutting-edge practices that integrate design thinking into upgrading informal settlements.

One key lesson is that incremental housing (a step-by-step process of upgrading) can be a critical part of the solution. Incrementalism allows informal housing to be adapted over time. It also means community engagement is central to governments’ handling of informal settlements.

informal settlements essay

Another learning is that evidence-based, multi-scale and multidisciplinary approaches are essential to tackle the challenges of informal settlements. Such integrated approaches intervene at multiple scales to provide a network of public open space and access to affordable public transport and facilities.

Most informal settlements – but for a few exceptions located in hazardous areas – need to be upgraded incrementally and on the same site.

informal settlements essay

Are we prepared?

When it comes to the critical role of design thinking in the process of urbanisation, built environment professionals need to be prepared to tackle the challenge of informal settlements.

Incremental and on-site upgrading relies on a sophisticated understanding of informal settlement forms and adaptations.

Universities have a key role in equipping future built environment professionals with the skills and knowledge needed to meet the real challenges of urbanisation. Informal settlements are here to stay.

To better integrate these settlements into cities globally, they need to be recognised – politically, socially and spatially – and made visible through the gaze of mapping and research.

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informal settlements essay

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informal settlements essay

Op-ed: Tapping into the power of community to make informal settlements healthier

One billion people live in informal settlements in the global south, yet these places remain largely invisible to policymakers and neglected in policy decisions..

As my plane banked and headed toward the international airport in Mumbai, a staggering scene unfolded before me through my small oval window.

A sea of blue-tarp-covered shacks extended to the airport boundary, as if the fragile airport wall was holding back a tsunami of nearby informal settlements. The ubiquitous blue waterproof tarp, a symbol of the city, serves as the primary protection against – and poignant reminder of – the harsh annual monsoon season, underscoring the inequities in the city.

This essay is also available in Spanish and Hindi

From this bird’s eye perspective to ground level, a more nuanced reality came into view. As an urban planner living and working in Mumbai, I saw how, contrary to popular media representations, not all homes in informal settlements resembled the shacks I first witnessed on the outskirts of the airport. Within the same neighborhood, housing can range from flimsy shelters made of low-cost materials to multistoried brick and cement structures, often part of informal rental markets.

The ‘favelas’ of Brazil, ‘bastis’ of India, ‘ katchi abadis’ of Pakistan, ‘ kampungs’ of Malaysia and the ‘barrios’ and ‘ comunas ’ of Venezuela and Colombia — these neighborhoods are as diverse as the names used to describe them. Despite their differences, informal settlements often face similar struggles. From poor air quality and inadequate housing conditions to limited access to water, sanitation and electricity, informal neighborhoods face environmental and social challenges that harm people’s health, affecting the poorest and most marginalized communities the hardest. Given that more than one billion people in the Global South – a quarter of the world’s urban population – live in informal settlements, this is no small issue.

As an urban planner and environmental health researcher, I am convinced that place-based approaches that take into account the physical complexities and community relationships of informal neighborhoods are essential to developing solutions that improve the wellbeing of residents while addressing the stigma associated with living in them. Unlike conventional approaches that rely on global “best practices” or impose top-down policies that neglect local context, community-led strategies involve active engagement with residents, seeking to improve the physical conditions of settlements while strengthening existing community ties.

The health hazards and stigma of informal settlements

Examples of types of houses in Indian informal settlements.

Credit: Julia King

The United Nations defines a 'slum household' (a term that might marginalize and homogenize the experiences of local communities) as a place where residents have limited access to clean water, lack sanitation, live in overcrowded and poorly-built constructions, suffer from an insecure housing tenure, or all of the above. Although I am using “informal settlements” as a synonym for “slums” here, I am aware of the continued debate surrounding these names as well as the usefulness of the “slum” label, which provides legal recognition to informal neighborhoods in certain countries, including in India. The urban research collective Urbz has coined “ homegrown neighborhoods ”, a name which gives agency to communities by emphasizing the labor and local expertise of residents that gave rise to these diverse places.

Often located in low-lying, flood-prone areas, hilly regions or near polluting facilities and landfills, informal settlements are disproportionately exposed to environmental pollution and health risks from natural disasters. Since cities do not legally recognize most settlements, they frequently do not have good access to water, sanitation and electricity, which creates a breeding ground for water-borne diseases like cholera, hepatitis, bacterial infections from poor personal hygiene and health risks from heat stress . And many informal settlements are also overcrowded, making them susceptible to the spread of both infectious diseases from contagion and noninfectious diseases from poor living conditions. Lack of resources and services like public transportation, schools or healthcare centers limits opportunities for residents. Despite these risks, policymakers and government welfare institutions turn a blind eye due to existing prejudice and the precarious legal status of these communities, deepening poverty and health hazards.

These inequalities became more salient to me when I worked with communities in Shivaji Nagar, one of Mumbai’s poorest and most underdeveloped informal neighborhoods. Shivaji Nagar borders one of the largest landfills in India, resulting in serious environmental health risks and air quality problems. It is overcrowded with approximately 600,000 people in about a half a square mile (a densely-populated city like New York, in contrast, has approximately 28,000 people living in one square mile ). Access to clean water and sanitation is limited with only one toilet for every 145 people . More than a third of households have a monthly income of $100 or less , many of which belong to marginalized Muslim and Dalit (lower-caste) communities.

Recognizing existing community structures

Commercial street in Shivaji Nagar, Mumbai.

Credit: Sabah Usmani

While I use the term informal settlement, working with communities I realized that there are formal systems of community and spatial organization within these places. During a workshop that brought community members, academics and architects together to design and test small-scale interventions for improving Shivaji Nagar’s street furniture (such as public benches or street lights), garbage disposal, water access and community gardens, it was evident that the neighborhood has its own “formalized” systems of organization. These systems manifest in various ways, from the gridded and numbered streets — a visual reminder of the neighborhood’s history as a government-planned resettlement colony — to the community groups and religious organizations that coordinate local worker groups, manage community gardens and public places, and provide financial and social support during times of need. Such self-organized community initiatives are characteristic of the informal, helping underserved communities improve their quality of life through self-determination.

Shivaji Nagar informal settlement with a street grid.

Credit: Google Earth, 2023

As I conducted research in other countries, getting to know people living in informal settlements, I realized that the few successful solutions for these places center communities and respect the existing networks and systems of organization. An example is Lucha de Los Pobres (‘The Fight of the Poor’), an informal settlement that was transformed into a thriving neighborhood of Quito, the capital of Ecuador.

While filming a documentary about the inception of this neighborhood, I interviewed Rodrigo Gualotuña, a community leader, who told me the story of his community. In 1964, Ecuador’s Agrarian Reform Law abolished Indigenous forced labor and this, coupled with the petroleum boom, led to mass migration to Quito. Due to a lack of affordable housing and discriminatory land ownership practices, migrants were forced to seek alternative forms of shelter. This neighborhood came about through an organized occupation of a hacienda (estate) in southwestern Quito, where thousands of Indigenous community members self-organized and occupied underutilized land overnight and built homes. It was a haven for low-income families who lacked shelter through conventional means. With years of protest and negotiation, Lucha de Los Pobres was recognized by the Municipality of Quito and provided with basic infrastructure and social services. This story illustrates a community-led approach that relied on the self-determination and resilience of the residents, many of whom have worked to build and incrementally expand their homes from simple single story constructions to impressive multi-story structures.

Lucha de los Pobres original settlement, 1983 (left, credit: Rodrigo Gualotuña). Present day Lucha de los Pobres, 2016 [right, Credit: Gabriel Muñoz Moreno).

This incremental housing approach – where residents build and expand their homes over time – presents an affordable solution to the housing needs of low-income populations. As part of a study led by MIT’s Special Interest Group for Urban Settlements, I organized interviews with residents and workshops with children from the community to ask them how they felt about their neighborhood. Their responses confirmed that the many in the community had a sense of pride about incrementally building their own homes and public spaces to meet their needs, developing building and construction expertise and deepening community bonds in the process.

Upgrade, not uproot

Residents building a roof in Lucha de los Pobres.

Credit: Gabriel Muñoz Moreno

So how can we improve people’s health and wellbeing in informal settlements? For policymakers and researchers, this means listening to communities that live there. It means including communities in all research efforts. It means understanding what is already working, elevating effective, homegrown solutions wherever possible, and integrating these into formal municipal governance. It means acknowledging that there is no one-size-fits-all answer and what works for one neighborhood may not work for another. It means building strong partnerships between communities and local governments to co-create and implement place-based policies and programs that upgrade neighborhoods where they are, instead of uprooting and forcibly evicting them.

By the middle of this century, up to three billion people are estimated to live in informal settlements, yet these places remain largely invisible to policymakers and neglected in policy decisions. There is a lack of data about the environmental factors, demographics, disease and health statistics for these neighborhoods, which limits our ability to understand public health challenges and focus resources on community health needs.

Informal settlements are complex and our efforts to understand them should reflect this complexity. Place-based research and policy will shed light on this intricacy and generate innovative solutions to physical infrastructure and legal representation, working hand-in-hand with communities.

Informal settlements are not a monolith. From Shivaji Nagar in Mumbai to Lucha de Los Pobres in Quito, they each have unique histories, contexts, challenges and people who have built the places that they call home.

This essay was produced through the Agents of Change in Environmental Justice fellowship . Agents of Change empowers emerging leaders from historically excluded backgrounds in science and academia to reimagine solutions for a just and healthy planet.

About the author(s):

informal settlements essay

Sabah Usmani is a Ph.D. student in the Climate and Health Program at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

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NAIROBI 25 May 2019 – A dynamic discussion between UN-Habitat, civil society, Non Governmental Organizations (NGOs), community organizations and others took place on the sidelines of the first UN-Habitat Assembly.

The Global Stakeholders meeting discussed included equality, slum upgrading, investments, partnerships and inclusivity.

informal settlements essay

A key issue was how to move away from piecemeal slum upgrading and policies that result in more slums to strategically working with local governments to provide good facilities and services in rural areas to reverse the trend of migration to urban areas. It is estimated that the 1 billion who live in slums and informal settlements will grow to 3 billion by 2050 without more action.

Rose Molokoane, the coordinator of Slum Dwellers International in South Africa brought home her country’s experience in dealing with huge inequality twenty-five years after apartheid was abolished.

informal settlements essay

Molokaone and her community organization is pushing for inclusion, integration and for those living in informal settlements to be able to own their own homes.

“Our government is talking about integration and everybody moving from the settlements to the city. Can a poor person afford to buy a mansion in the city? We want to create our own informal cities meaning that if we get security of tenure, if we are allowed to build our own houses then we can create our own settlements,“ she said.

UN-Habitat’s Executive Director Maimunah Mohd Sharif said the focus of UN-Habitat’s 2020 – 2025 Strategy Plan is reducing poverty and inequality of services in urban and rural areas, improving the urban environment and building capacity to effectively respond to urban crises.

"We want to do less but with focus, create partnerships. Share successes and challenges. Be better. We need to have the capacity to deal with the migration crisis as well as national disasters and violence. UN-Habitat is not a first responder. We go into countries to give technical advise to revitalise and reconstruct"

The UN-Habitat Assembly will run at the UN compound in Nairobi from 27 – 31 May 2019.

informal settlements essay

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  • The Effect of Playground Design on Communities
  • Developmental Benefits of Recreational Space
  • Public Space Inequality in South Africa
  • Recyclable Playgrounds
  • Flamingo Crescent Informal Settlement
  • Asset-Based Community Development
  • Project Philosophy
  • Mission Statement & Objectives
  • Meet the Community
  • Scene 1: When in Africa…
  • Scene 2: Communication Troubles on the Forefront
  • Scene 3: “Hallo Gemeenskap”
  • Scene 4: Pulling Strings
  • Scene 5: Progress Behind Closed Doors
  • Scene 1: From the Outside…
  • Scene 2: Home Alone
  • Scene 3: Pushing for Progress
  • Scene 1: Another Day, Another Design
  • Scene 2: Community Initiative
  • Scene 3: Gettin’ Down and Dirty
  • Scene 4: Where is the pipe?
  • Scene 1: Steering to Paradise
  • Scene 2: On a Roll…
  • Scene 3: Leaving a Little Handprint
  • Scene 4: A Promising Start to the Park
  • Scene 5: Let There Be Playgrounds!
  • Scene 6: “To my new family!”
  • Scene 7: Life Through Murals and Trees
  • Scene 8: Closing Time
  • Team Flamingo Reflections
  • Introduction
  • Issues Resulting From Energy Practices in Informal Settlements
  • Interactive Qualifying Project Center Context
  • Methods of Financing Business in Low Income Communities
  • Strategies for Implementation in Low Income Communities
  • Methodology
  • Mission & Objectives
  • Interview with Sizwe
  • Interview with Yolanda
  • Interview with Auntie Marie
  • Second Interview with Yolanda
  • Scene 1: First Introductions
  • Scene 2: Getting to know Wonderbags and Building Networks
  • Scene 3: Sharing Ideas and Findings
  • Scene 4: Cooking with the Wonderbag
  • Scene 1: Creating Interest in Wonderbags
  • Scene 2: First Trip to an Informal Settlement
  • Scene 3: Looking for New Products
  • Scene 4: Gathering Community Energy and Crèche Information
  • Scene 5: A Visit to Flamingo
  • Scene 6: Just Do It: Three Crèche Visits
  • Scene 7: The Reality of Low Income Areas
  • Scene 8: A College for Kiddies
  • Scene 1: Pilot Program
  • Scene 2: A Second Pilot Program
  • Scene 3: Sustainable Sales
  • Scene 4: Low Income Energy Services Task Team Meeting
  • Scene 5: Lunch at the Crèche
  • Scene 6: Exploring Other Products
  • Scene 7: Graduation
  • Scene 8: Enjoying Electricity
  • Scene 9: Collaboration for Future Implementation
  • Scene 10: Keep Smiling
  • Tati’s Reflections
  • Alex’s Reflections
  • Business Model
  • Entrepreneurial Support Packet Overview
  • Wonderbag Business Guide
  • Wonderbag Safety Flyer
  • Wonderbag Sales Log
  • Energy Savings Advertisements
  • Pilot Program Contract
  • Wonderbag Advertisements
  • Pilot Program Log
  • Pilot Programs
  • Findings Report
  • Cape Town Sanitation and Health Programmes Context
  • History of Education in the Context of Apartheid
  • The Relationship between Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Education
  • The Relationship between Education and Career Development
  • Health Promoters®
  • Other Community Members
  • WaSH-Serv Co-Researchers
  • Act 1 Scene 3
  • Act 1 Scene 4
  • Act 2 Scene 2
  • Act 2 Scene 5
  • Act 2 Scene 6
  • Act 2 Scene 7
  • Act 3 Scene 1
  • Act 3 Scene 2
  • Act 3 Scene 3
  • Act 3 Scene 4
  • Act 4 Scene 1
  • Act 4 Scene 2
  • Act 4 Scene 3
  • Act 4 Scene 4
  • Act 5 Scene 1
  • Act 5 Scene 2
  • The Concept: What is WaSH-UP?
  • Challenges: Where can it go wrong?
  • So What Does This Mean? Lessons Learned from Langrug
  • Important Lessons Learned: Working in Challenging Communities
  • What Works? Successes in Surprising Places
  • Where do we go now? Some Musings on the Future
  • Heather’s Reflection
  • Informal Settlements in South Africa: Langrug Community
  • Community Assets
  • Cooperative
  • For Profit Small Business
  • Opportunity International
  • Savings for Health Expenditures in Kenya
  • Village Savings and Loan Association in Malawi
  • How to Start a Small Business in Informal Settlements
  • Micro-Enterprise: An Example
  • Research Question 1
  • Research Question 2
  • Research Question 3
  • Research Question 4
  • Sources and References
  • Act 1: The Journey Begins
  • Act 2: Getting the Business Up and Running
  • Act 3: The World Isn’t All Sunshine and Rainbows
  • Act 4: Money- A Universal Problem to Overcome
  • Act 5: Progress in Adversity
  • Act 6: We’re In Business!
  • Act 7: Is This Worth Fighting For?
  • Act 8: The Journey Continues
  • Cast Of Characters
  • Project Focus
  • Scene 1: First Day on the Job
  • Scene 2: A Tour of the Facility
  • Scene 3: A Day in the Field
  • Scene 4: Talking About Expansion
  • Scene 5: Buy Backs Centres and Expansion
  • Scene 6: A Working Buy Back Centre and Successful Picker
  • Scene 7: Helping the Community, no matter the Business Value
  • Scene 8: TrashBack offers an Interesting Opportunity
  • Scene 9: Hoist Manufacturers
  • Scene 10: CommSell Helps Digitize the Paperwork Process
  • Meet our City Sponsors
  • Meet the NGO Partners
  • Meet the Student Team

An Introduction to Informal Settlements

  • Flamingo’s Current State
  • The Infrastructure Research
  • The Social Development Research
  • Scene 1: First Meeting with Levona
  • Scene 2: An Introduction to 7de Laan
  • Scene 3: Beginnings of Turmoil
  • Scene 4: Finding Hope
  • Scene 5: A Motivation for our Work
  • Scene 6: Red Hill Settlement Tour Highlights Opportunities
  • Scene 7: City Mission Visit Illuminates the Option of Reblocking
  • Scene 8: Meeting the Key Planners
  • Scene 9: First Weekly Meeting Causes Confusion
  • Scene 10: Subcouncil Meeting Eases Worries
  • Scene 11: A Raw and Unexpected Story
  • Scene 12: Ethiopian Experience
  • Scene 13: Shack Demolition
  • Scene 14: Engineering the Future
  • Scene 15: Public Meeting in 7de Laan
  • Act 1 Reflection
  • Scene 1: A Taste of Flamingo
  • Scene 2: Getting to know the Community Leaders
  • Scene 3: Cluster Meetings in Flamingo
  • Scene 4: Introduction to Mtshini Wam
  • Scene 5: Kuku Town Visit Provides Example
  • Scene 6: All Parties Come Together
  • Scene 7: Library Networking
  • Scene 8: Communication and Enumeration
  • Act 2 Reflection
  • Scene 1: Meeting the Contractors
  • Scene 2: Breaking Ground
  • Scene 3: If You Build It They Will Come
  • Scene 4: Visiting ELRU Opens Doors for a Crèche in Flamingo
  • Scene 5: A Living Virtue
  • Scene 6: Meeting a New Potential Stakeholder
  • Scene 7: Meeting with the CECD: “Let’s do it.”
  • Scene 8: Bringing Green Innovation to the Crèche
  • Scene 9: Final Stakeholder Meeting
  • Scene 10: Saying Goodbye to Flamingo Crescent
  • Act 3 Reflection
  • Charles’ Reflection
  • Mike’s Reflection
  • Zach’s Reflection
  • Resources and References
  • Building a Background Through Research
  • Liaison Discussions
  • On-site Observations
  • Community Discussions
  • Visiting Other Communities
  • City Mission
  • Springfield Road
  • Imizamu Yethu
  • Freedom Park
  • Mtshini Wam
  • Nametag Activity
  • Language Bridge
  • Cultural Exchange Through Photographs
  • Likes and Gripes Drawing Activity
  • Profiling Community Members
  • Participatory Photography
  • Cluster Meetings
  • Talking Circles
  • Facilitate Access to Government Resources
  • Strengthen Ties to Local Resources
  • Develop Relations with NGOs
  • Collaborate with Cape Town Project Centre Teams
  • Document Resources for Future Use
  • Improve Document Circulation and Accessibility
  • Improve Communication – Involve Community Members
  • Periodically Assess Progress
  • Meet with all Stakeholders
  • Working Professionally
  • Show your Team’s Investment
  • Enumerate the Settlement
  • Formalize and Solidify the Layout Process
  • Facilitate Construction Progress
  • Our Partners
  • Centre for Early Childhood Development
  • Kiddies College Preschool
  • Langrug: Connecting ECD with WaSH
  • Final Presentation Materials
  • Challenges of Early Childhood Development
  • Models of Early Childhood Development
  • Resources for South African Creches
  • South African Government Regulations and Policies for Registration of Early Childhood Development Centres
  • Visual of Early Childhood Development
  • Scene 1: First Day of School at Kiddies College Preschool
  • Scene 2: Hit the Ground Running
  • Scene 3: Visiting the New Location
  • Scene 4: Getting the Word Out
  • Scene 1: Nobathembu’s Crèche
  • Scene 2: Sudden Realizations
  • Scene 3: Just One Grain of Sand
  • Scene 1: Getting To Know Nobathembu
  • Scene 2: A Lunch with David
  • Scene 3: All Hands on Deck
  • Scene 1: Back to Langrug
  • Scene 2: A Kiddies Graduation
  • Scene 3: Meeting with the CECD
  • Scene 4: Blessing in Disguise – Promoting Health in Langrug
  • Nick’s Reflection
  • Cast of Characters: Who’s Who in This Project
  • Educational NGO’s
  • Important Informational Links
  • Registering a Crèche in Cape Town
  • Meet the WPI Team
  • Project Coordinators
  • Co-Research Teams
  • Meet the Parks Department
  • Early Childhood Development
  • Park Design
  • Design Process
  • Community Involvement
  • Research Questions
  • Scene 1: Arriving in Maitland Garden Village
  • Scene 2: First Sight
  • Scene 3: Meeting with the Project Members
  • Scene 4: Community Survey
  • Scene 5: Working with Co-Researchers
  • Scene 6: Village Day
  • Scene 7: Monday’s Meeting with Jude
  • Scene 8: Monday’s Meeting with Co-Researchers
  • Scene 9: Discouraging Moment
  • Scene 10: Setting up the Fantasy Playscape Activity with the Crèche
  • Scene 1: New Faces
  • Scene 2: Fantasy Playground
  • Scene 3: Cape Town Park Tour
  • Scene 4: Design Meeting
  • Scene 5: Park Clean-Up
  • Scene 6: Park Depot Visit
  • Scene 7: Spreading the Word
  • Scene 1: Friday Fun Day
  • Scene 2: Maitland Garden Village Community Meeting
  • Scene 3: Steering Committee Comes Together
  • Scene 4: Planting the Seeds
  • Scene 5: Last Day in Maitland Garden Village
  • Personal Reflections
  • Preparation Research
  • WaSH-UP Principles
  • Langrug Community
  • How Does the Enviro Loo Toilet Work?
  • Mission Statement and Objectives
  • Scene 1: And So It Begins… Touring Informal Settlements
  • Scene 2: Connecting with the Women of Langrug
  • Scene 3: Learning from the Past
  • Scene 4: Laundering an Agreement
  • Scene 5: Doodling to Improve
  • Scene 6: Nailing Down Improvements
  • Scene 1: A Loo with a View
  • Scene 2: Not Reinventing the Wheel
  • Scene 3: Toilet Viewing at Signal Hill
  • Scene 4: Meeting Nobathembu
  • Scene 5: Children of Langrug
  • Scene 6: Exploring with Paula
  • Scene 1: Alfred’s Worries
  • Scene 2: Scott’s Discovery
  • Scene 3: Multitasking
  • Scene 4: Hendri and Harold
  • Scene 5: The People’s Place
  • Scene 6: The Signal Hill Exchange
  • Scene 1: Meeting with Stephen
  • Scene 2: Moving Forward with Enviro Loo
  • Scene 3: Meeting With Joey
  • Scene 4: The Pilot Project
  • Scene 5: Extracting Elevations and Pitching the Pilot Program
  • Scene 6: Launching the Public Health Programme
  • Scene 7: “Do You Trust Us?”
  • Scene 8: Leaving Langrug
  • Mackenzie’s Reflection
  • Joe’s Reflection
  • Morgan’s Reflection
  • Assessment of the 2012 Mandela Park Facility
  • Proposal for New Dry Sanitation Facility in Zwelitsha
  • References and Acknowledgements
  • Garden Village Affiliated Football Club
  • Garden Village Residents’ Association
  • Scene 1: First Encounter with Maitland Garden Village (MGV)
  • Scene 2: Tour of Maitland Garden Village
  • Scene 3: Ronell’s Sight into the Help Centre
  • Scene 4: First Look at the Potential Venue
  • Scene 5: Getting to Know the People We are Working With
  • Scene 6: Tour Of Oude Molen
  • Scene 7: Village Day
  • Scene 8: Monday Morning Meeting
  • Scene 9: Meeting at MGV Community Centre
  • Reflection and Moving Forward
  • Scene 1: Green Light Project Meeting: Brainstorming Session
  • Scene 2: After School Programmes
  • Scene 3: Advice from the Community Plough Movement
  • Scene 4: Guidance from Basil
  • Scene 5: Community Meeting Part I
  • Scene 6: Community Meeting Part II
  • Scene 1: Meeting With Property Management
  • Scene 2: Meeting with Ibrahim
  • Scene 3: First Music Meeting
  • Scene 4: Meeting with Sponsor
  • Scene 5: Figuring Out a Programme for the Concert
  • Scene 6: Meeting With Naiela
  • Scene 7: Training Session with the Kids
  • Scene 8: The Final Presentation and Concert
  • Surrounding Communities
  • Black River 2011
  • Objective 1: Developing Relationships
  • Objective 2: Collaboration for Agricultural Plans
  • Objective 3: Collaboration for a Pathway Vision
  • Sponsors and Liaisons
  • Notable Organisations
  • Scene Eight: Maitland Garden Village Day
  • Scene Five: Faces of Oude Molen Eco Village
  • Scene Four: First Meeting with our Sponsors
  • Scene One: The First Pathway Experience
  • Scene Seven: Visiting Company’s Garden
  • Scene Six: A Presentation to our Sponsors
  • Scene Three: Walking the Desire Lines
  • Scene Two: Tour of Maitland Garden Village
  • Scene Four: Desire Lines Tour with Martin
  • Scene One: Weekly Meeting with our Sponsors
  • Scene Three: Sustainable Livelihoods Meeting
  • Scene Two: Heritage Interviews
  • Scene One: Meeting with Jonno
  • Scene Three: TRUP Committee Meeting
  • Scene Two: Weekly Meeting with our Sponsors
  • Scene One: Mapping the Pathway at 44 Wale Street
  • Scene Two: Weekly Meeting with our Sponsor
  • Scene Three: Visit to Harvest of Hope
  • Scene Four: Meeting with Storm Water Management
  • Scene Five: Meeting with Parks and Recreation
  • Scene Six: Two Rivers Urban Park Steering Committee Meeting
  • Scene One: Meeting with Property Management
  • Scene Three: Additional Meeting with Sponsors
  • Scene Four: Weekly Meeting with our Sponsors
  • Scene Five: Trip to the Liesbeek River
  • Resources & References
  • Historical Context
  • Reblocking Efforts
  • Urine Divergent Systems
  • Pit Latrines
  • Dehydrating Systems
  • Flush Toilets
  • Fire Hydrants
  • Laundry Stations
  • Rainwater Collection
  • Detailed Mission and Objectives
  • Multi-Stakeholder Involvement
  • Initial Steps in Building Strong Relationships
  • Designs and Planning Stages
  • Construction and Implementation
  • Long-Term Management
  • Models to Learn From
  • Meet the Langrug Project Team
  • Meet the Municipality of Stellenbosch
  • Meet the CORC Representatives
  • Meet the Langrug Working Team
  • Greywater Health and Maintenance
  • Multi-purpose Community Centre
  • WaSH Facility
  • Initial Tour Highlights Many Contrasts
  • First Partnership Meeting: Tensions Emerge
  • A More Positive Start to Day Two
  • Challenges of Reblocking
  • Envisioning a Multi-purpose Centre
  • Zwelitsha’s Unique Problems
  • Reporting Sets a Precedent for the Future
  • The WaSH Team’s View
  • Discussing the Needs of the Community and How the MPC Can Help
  • Making the Decision to Move Forward with the Multi-Purpose Centre
  • Reblocking Guidebook Discussion
  • Re-Measuring for Reblocking
  • Spacing Out ReBlocking
  • Fire In Zwelitsha
  • Lunch Scene
  • Working Team Arguments
  • Playing Games
  • Introductions at the Municipality: A Revelation
  • Amanda Realises the Importance of Documentation
  • The Working Team Presents to the Municipality
  • How Simple Office Supplies Can Spark Progress
  • Further Difficulty with Planning
  • Learning How to Do (and Teach) a Cost Analysis
  • Working Group Expresses Community Urgency
  • Impromptu Meeting with Dawie
  • Meeting with Scott: Ending a Day of Confusion
  • Partnership Meeting 13 November
  • Alfred’s Presence in Langrug
  • Realising the Greywater Cleaning Problems
  • Working Group’s Apparent Lack of Trust in the Municipality: Putting Together a Report
  • Tensions Regarding Community Contributions and the MPC
  • Conversation with Koko
  • The Farmers’ Strike in Langrug
  • Act 5: Our Reflections
  • The Sponsors
  • Professor Robert Hersh
  • Problem Statement
  • On The Ground in The Sky
  • Developed a Framework for the Programme
  • Monetary Outputs and Inputs
  • Market Investigation
  • Raising Awareness
  • The Farm in the City
  • Laying the Foundation
  • Reflections and Recommendations
  • Ethical Consideration
  • Acknowledgements
  • Analysis of Potential Roofs
  • Harvest of Hope
  • RUAF Foundation
  • Preparation Phase References
  • Leader Profiles
  • Additional Resources For Mtshini Wam
  • Scene 1: Day One in Mtshini Wam
  • Scene 2: “Before you leave, leave us with something”
  • Scene 3: Planning with the Community – Shared Action Learning
  • Scene 4: Realization of Project Assumptions
  • Scene 1: Complexities of the First Major Reblocking Process – 11.6.12
  • Scene 2: Meeting With The City, CORC, and ISN – 11.9.12
  • Scene 3: First Meeting with Stephen Lamb – 11.12.12
  • Scene 1: Pressing Forward Despite Little Progress – 11.12.12-11.13.12
  • Scene 2: Mini-Projects for Community Development in Mtshini Wam – Gardening and Carpentry
  • Scene 3: Big Day Implementation and Collective Learning
  • Scene 4: Profiling the Mtshini Wam Community Leaders, 12.3.12-12.7.12
  • Informal Settlement Context
  • Joe Slovo History
  • Lessons Learned in Early Cape Town Upgrading Projects
  • Prospective Projects
  • Interview Methodology
  • Meet the Greywater Team
  • The Beginning
  • Building a Channel in J-section
  • The Process – Step 1
  • The Process – Step 2
  • The Process – Step 3
  • The Process – Step 4
  • The Process – Step 5
  • The Process – Step 6
  • The Process – Step 7
  • The Process – Step 8
  • The Process – Step 9
  • Applying the Process in I-section
  • Lessons Learned
  • Moving Forward
  • Mission Statement & Design Criteria
  • Results: Visions and Rationale
  • Final Vision
  • Acknowledgments
  • Chapter 1: What is the best way to aid a community in a sustainable and positive way?
  • Village Day
  • Conducting Interviews
  • History of the Crèche
  • Details of the Crèche Work
  • Chapter 5: What is the best approach to gain governmental participation in preparation for a community programme?
  • Green Light Program Committees
  • Chapter 7: How can MGV continue to develop through mutually beneficial relationships with neighbouring communities?
  • Epilogue: What does the future hold?
  • Sydney Baker
  • Bryan Karsky
  • Emilee Kaufman
  • Lauren Laboissonniere
  • Nathan Sarapas
  • Photo Gallery
  • Downloads and References
  • Acknowledging Our Partners
  • Our Findings
  • Mapped Facility 1
  • Mapped Facility 10
  • Mapped Facility 2
  • Mapped Facility 3
  • Mapped Facility 4
  • Mapped Facility 5
  • Mapped Facility 6
  • Mapped Facility 7
  • Mapped Facility 8
  • Mapped Facility 9
  • Mapped Facility 11
  • Mapped Facility 12
  • Mapped Facility 13
  • Mapped Facility 14
  • Mapped Facility 15
  • Mapped Facility 16
  • Mapped Facility 17
  • Mapped Facility 18
  • Mapped Facility 19
  • Mapped Facility 20
  • Mapped Facility 21
  • Alternative Facilities
  • Documentation of Co-researcher Interaction
  • Gujarat and Kerala, India
  • WaSHUp Process
  • Multi-Purpose Centre Preliminary Drawings
  • Supplemental Material
  • Cultural/Social
  • Institutional
  • Safety and Security
  • Infrastructure
  • Personal Profiles
  • Recommendations for Continuation: Training Community Facilitators
  • Asset-Based Community Development Background
  • Methodology and Conclusions
  • Stakeholders
  • Building Guide: Step-By-Step
  • Function and History of B-Section Community Hall
  • Future Building Advice
  • B-Section Hall-Female Team Member Reflection
  • B-Section Hall-Male Team Member Reflection
  • ABR- Chemical Process
  • Future Plans
  • Sanitation Step-By-Step
  • Sanitation: Female Team Member Reflection
  • Sanitation: Male Team Member Reflection
  • Playground Background
  • Construction Pictures
  • Our References
  • Description of Project
  • Communicating Results through Documents Method
  • Generating Alternative Designs Method
  • Identifying Flooding Hot Spots Method
  • Interview Method
  • Measuring and Modeling Hot Spots Method
  • Future Recommendations
  • Project Diagrams and Models
  • Alexandra Settlement
  • Ondo Town, Nigeria
  • Porto Alegre, Brazil
  • Monwabisi Park Spaza Market
  • Focus Group Discussion
  • Informal Conversations
  • Key Informant Interviews
  • Mapping Exercise
  • Monwabisi Park Spaza Association Meeting
  • Recommendations
  • Monwabisi Park
  • Triple Trust Organisation
  • Spaza Shops
  • Creches in Monwabisi Park
  • Innovative Integrated Outreach Programme
  • Vision For the Future of Early Childhood Development
  • Existing Site Conditions
  • Proposed Site Design
  • Capital Costs
  • Site Management and Operational Costs
  • Vegetation Costs
  • Good Hope College Initiation Site Management Plan
  • Implementation of Good Hope College Initiation Site
  • Training of the Ingcibi
  • Government Actions and Health Initiatives
  • Involvement of the Health Department
  • Role of Site Committee
  • Role of Site Manager
  • Emergency Access
  • Waste Management
  • Site Management
  • A Historic Perspective of the Initiation Ritual
  • Limited Physical Space and Lack of Seclusion
  • Building and Burning of Initiation Huts
  • Challenges of Initiation in an Urban Environment
  • Economic Challenges for Initiates
  • Health Concerns during the Initiation Process
  • Malnutrition during the Seclusion Period
  • Psychological Challenges Faced by Initiates
  • Conflicts Between Traditional Leaders and Authorities
  • Government Actions in the Initiation Community
  • Good Hope College Initiation Site Visits
  • Initiation Indaba
  • Interviews and recommendation
  • Langa Site Visits
  • Project Identification
  • Andiswa Putsu
  • Happiness Mamfenguza
  • Thabo Khomane, Songezo Gulwa
  • Thembakazi Salman
  • Housing: Background
  • Housing: Plan Implementation
  • Housing: Design Considerations
  • Housing: Proposed Designs
  • Housing: Logistics
  • Housing: Costs of Construction
  • Housing: Ownership, Management and Maintenance
  • Indlovu Project Redevelopment Seed
  • Housing: Enforcement, Tenure and Rent
  • Community Centres: Background
  • Community Centres: Plan Implementation
  • Community Centres: Designs
  • Community Centres: Logistics
  • Community Centres: Management
  • Community Centres: Employment, Job Descriptions and Finance
  • Co-researcher coordination
  • College Assessment Exams
  • Final Celebration
  • Outside Organizations
  • Photo Service
  • Participatory Media Outlets
  • Redevelopment Tensions
  • Advancing the Co-Reasercher Program
  • Bringing Outside Organizations to Monwabisi Park
  • Community Interview Questions
  • Exploring Community Views
  • MOT Proposal
  • Photography as a Community Initiative
  • Photography Proposal
  • Cited Sources
  • Redevelopment Process
  • Guest House Suggestions
  • Our Overnight Experience
  • Volunteer Program Suggestions
  • Small Business Week
  • Imiza Moyethu
  • Sustainability Plan
  • Fundraising Methods
  • Indlovu Project Hiring Concerns
  • Indlovu Project Presentation
  • Spaza Shop Interviews
  • Complementary Currency
  • Microfinance
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome
  • Craft and Tourism Excursion
  • Arivi Safe Paraffin Stove
  • Evaluation of Energy Sources
  • Interviews and Surveys
  • ParaSafe Primus Stove
  • Presentations
  • Safe Stove Implementation
  • Analysis of Paraffin Stoves
  • Recommendations for Monwabisi Park
  • Electricity Usage
  • Home Heating
  • Rocket Stoves
  • Solar Cooking
  • Wind Energy
  • The Hot Box
  • Stoves Currently Being Used
  • Inexpensive
  • Socially Acceptable
  • Sustainable
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Blackwater Recycling System
  • Effective Microorganisms
  • Case Study: Yosemite National Park
  • Wetland Gardens for Waste Water Management
  • Feed a Family
  • Current Gardens in Monwabisi Park
  • Barrier Planting
  • Container Gardens
  • Rooftop Gardens
  • Regional Environmental Council
  • Soil for Life
  • Companion Planting
  • Earthworm Farming
  • Permaculture
  • Sustainable Development
  • The Benefits of Urban Greening
  • Lighting Proposal
  • Mew Way Sidewalk Proposal
  • Monwabisi Park Redevelopment Framework
  • GIS Mapping
  • Housing Organization
  • Infrastructure Design
  • Responses to the Informal Settlement in Hout Bay
  • Synopsis of Spatial Mapping and Planning
  • The Phola Park Informal Settlement
  • Topographic Modeling
  • Bibliography
  • Google Earth
  • Redevelopment Seed Proposal
  • Roads Proposal
  • Storm Water Management
  • Background Appendices
  • Current Conditions and Common Practices within Monwabisi Park
  • Establishing Collaborations
  • Future Testing
  • History of Water and Sanitation in South Africa
  • Effective Community-Led Redevelopment: Karachi, Pakistan
  • Infrastructure after Rapid Urbanization: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • The MobiSan Project: Pooke se Bos Settlement, Cape Town
  • Wastewater Treatment through Constructed Wetlands: Florence, Italy
  • Monwabisi Park as a Model for Redevelopment
  • Reference List
  • 1. Toilets, Urinals, and Primary Waste Management
  • 2. Composting and Pasteurization
  • 3. Improved Taps
  • 4. Hand Washing Station
  • 5. Laundry Station
  • 6. Grey Water Management
  • 7. Caretaker Role and Educational Component
  • 8. Facility Perimeter
  • First Week Plans
  • Pre-Travel Planning
  • Interactions
  • Meeting Strategies
  • Interview Planning
  • Week One Plan
  • Beyond Week One
  • Welcome to Langrug
  • Key Areas of Focus
  • CTPC Context
  • Setting the Stage
  • Sponsor: Community Organisation Resource Centre
  • Sponsor: Department of Integrated Human Settlements
  • Project Planning

The entrance of an informal settlement (City Mission)

The entrance of an informal settlement (City Mission)

More than 800 million people reside in slums worldwide, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America. These people often live under the threat of eviction, without permanent housing, sufficient living space, or access to clean water. In South Africa, decades of legal and social inequity have led to a large population living in informal slums in and around urban areas. Apartheid legislation forced non-whites from urban centres into underdeveloped townships, whose severe lack of housing forced many to build their own improvised shacks. A dependence on urban areas for jobs also contributed to the growth of slums, as the non-whites forced out of the city flocked back to overpopulated areas to find work.

These slums contain a variety of issues – shack organization, utility services, and social services. The first type of issues are related to the location of shacks within a settlement. Oftentimes, when travelling through a settlement, shacks are built at inconsistent intervals, some crowded, some spaced apart. Most roads are consequently irregular and often do not have space for a car. This makes emergency vehicle transportation through the settlements difficult or impossible, preventing emergency services from reaching the settlements. The shacks themselves are made from a variety of low cost, or discarded material – usually wood, zinc, or plastic. The heavy use of wood and crowding of settlements creates an extreme fire risk for most settlements. In terms of services, most settlements lack or have limited access to water, electricity, and sanitation. Beyond the physical settlement are the social issues. Most settlements lack legal representation, schooling, and community spaces like gardens or parks.

To learn more about the state of Flamingo Crescent, click .

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informal settlements essay

Informal settlements

In most African cities, more than half of residents live in informal settlements, with insecure tenure, a lack of basic services and infrastructure, and often unsafe housing. It is now widely recognised within policy and academic circles that such households tend to be best served by upgrading programmes that enable them to remain in situ, without disrupting their livelihoods and social networks.

Informal settlement upgrading is a significant poverty reduction mechanism, enabling low-income households to secure essential services at a lower cost, improve their social status, and overcome spatial inequality. It also helps address the needs of vulnerable groups, such as women-headed households and people with disabilities, as well as offering multiple opportunities for income generation.

City elites are increasingly recognising the potential that informal settlement upgrading has for enhancing their popularity, and the politics underpinning such interventions will be closely analysed by ACRC through our research. With multiple actors involved and a number of contentious issues shaping the challenge of upgrading, the complexities of the process and the overlaps with other urban development domains will be a key focus in our work.

informal settlements essay

Within the informal settlements domain, we are focusing on the following cities:

informal settlements essay


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Research Proposal Informal settlements: A case study on the informal settlements of Kabul City, Afghanistan.

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Informal or squatter settlements or as referred to slums during the 18th century are still existed in a large number in our society and they are created by low income or poor people or a result of having an adequate planning systems. The origin can be traced back to the “Victorian Slums” in England during mid of 18th century where the word of slum appeared for the first time in the reports (UN HABITAT, 2007). Today this is a major issue in many developing countries, such as Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan, India, Latin America and many more. Numerous governments and humanitarian aid organizations such as United Nations, World Bank, UN-HABITAT and USAID have gathered up to fight this problem and how they can find suitable solutions for them. Afghanistan as a developing country which recently has been retrieved from a long war and it is one of those countries that its urbanization is affected widely by the informal living conditions. The main aim of this paper is to find the key factors for the creation of these informal settlements in the Kabul city, the capital of Afghanistan. However these settlements in most cases are not slums which are described by the Oxford dictionary “a squalid and overcrowded urban street or district inhabited by very poor people”. I would argue that there are people in these areas, who are counted as the top income bracket people in the society, therefore in Kabul these places are a mixture of both rich and poor people, and often they are called informal settlements. The study will gather qualitative data from the participants such as local residents, academic and government officials and quantitative data from the current planning system policies and secondary source information from organization involved in the urban planning process.

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Code based design of piles with NSF consider the NSF force as a dragload to be imposed on the pile as an unfavourable design action. These codes like Singapore CP4, UK BS 8004 and the recent EC7 would indirectly factor up the value of the dragload while at the same time factor down the positive shaft friction below the neutral plane. Thus the pile design in very deep soft clays typical of Singapore and Asean coastal plains will lead to very conservative pile lengths to meet the code requirements. The Unified pile design method of Fellenius recognized this deficiency and it allows for better pile design with NSF taking into account the need for both force and settlement equilibrium between pile and soil. Fortunately, EC7 also allows for interactive pile/soil analysis using modern FEM tools that can optimise pile design for NSF, particularly when the remaining consolidation settlements around the piles are relatively small. This paper will compare these methods and provide insights into the proper understanding of NSF effects on pile behaviour, and recommend the way forward for rational and economical pile design in settling soils.

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The Social idealism has been associated to utopia, where lots of trials have been taken aiming to reach the ideal state in different fields, such as: philosophy, technology, urban planning, politics, economy and others. The utopic thought have been also merged with architectural thought, that helped in the evolution of architecture and helped to present the futuristic city; as well as developing new technological, social and other typologies. The research examines the notion of idealism, and the relation of utopic thought with both architectural and urban thought. The research also reviews the utopic evolution, specially in architecture of the 20th century, that resulted in affecting both current and futuristic architecture.

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Kamala Harris’s Epic Fail in Puerto Rico

A photograph of a blurred Kamala Harris. A Puerto Rican flag hangs in the background and three women standing next to it are looking away from the camera.

By Yarimar Bonilla

Dr. Bonilla is a contributing Opinion writer who covers race, history, pop culture and the American empire.

Kamala Harris arrived in San Juan, P.R., last Friday for her first official visit as vice president. The trip was meant, in part, to highlight the Biden administration’s dedication to aiding the island’s recovery. What unfolded instead was a revealing tableau of Democrats’ missteps and misjudgments.

Ms. Harris’s roughly five-hour visit began in the community of San Isidro, in the municipality of Canóvanas. There she visited María Ramos de Jesús, an 86-year-old whose home was only recently rebuilt with funds from a program of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

It was a curious choice. Many of the residents lack land titles, which made them ineligible for the Federal Emergency Management Agency programs Ms. Harris aimed to promote. The area was originally an informal settlement built on public wetlands by those displaced after Hurricane Hugo in 1989 . The HUD funds come attached to a new FEMA flood map, which means that more than 250,000 homes like these across the island that are identified to be at high risk of flood are ineligible for reconstruction.

The fact that it took seven years for Ms. Ramos’s home to be reconstructed after Hurricane Maria is indicative of how the federal government repeatedly fails Puerto Ricans, no matter which party is in charge.

While the Trump administration may have left Puerto Ricans in the dark after the hurricane, it was the Democrats who set the stage for the storm’s disastrous aftermath. Things might have turned out differently had the Obama administration fairly confronted Puerto Rico’s financial crisis by offering debt relief, addressing historical injustices and protecting essential services rather than saddling residents with a federally appointed fiscal control board that has only caused more harm .

While on the campaign trail, Joe Biden pledged to reverse the austerity policies imposed by the fiscal board and to support an audit of Puerto Rico’s debt to identify any illegally issued debt. These promises, however, fell by the wayside once he was in office.

Even though the board acknowledged that much of the island’s debt is invalid, it dismissed citizen demands for a comprehensive audit. Instead, it focused on privatizing and dismantling public services, which in turn caused living expenses and utility costs to soar, even as essential services like electricity, water, health care and education become increasingly unreliable or inaccessible .

The board operates with a chilling lack of oversight. The Supreme Court ruled that its members are exempt from standard federal appointment procedures, given the “territorial” nature of their duties. The court also ruled against local journalists who sought access to the board’s internal records. This, as Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in an opinion , has left the board in “a twilight zone of accountability.”

While working-class Puerto Ricans suffer the blows of austerity and second-class citizenship, tax incentives have attracted a wave of investors and remote workers, further straining the island’s resources and displacing its residents. Under the tax incentives consolidated under Act 60 in 2019, wealthy investors receive breaks on local and federal taxes as long as they buy property in Puerto Rico and reside there half the year. This has led to a loss of billions of dollars in revenues for the island’s coffers and a land grab that has significantly raised housing costs.

Local activists had hoped to voice these concerns to the vice president when she visited La Goyco, a closed school in San Juan reclaimed as a community center. Other valuable public lands have been sold or leased to wealthy investors for pennies on the dollar, only to be turned into exclusive private schools or luxury vacation homes.

Ms. Harris’s visit to La Goyco was contentious. Several activist groups staged protests, denouncing the federal government’s policies not just in Puerto Rico but also in Gaza and Haiti. Some groups chanted “Yankee, go home” and “U.S.A., U.S.A., we want statehood.”

In a scene reminiscent of the HBO show “Veep,” the vice president clapped haplessly along to the Spanish protest songs that greeted her, apparently not realizing the lyrics were critical of her visit.

After briefly experiencing the local culture, Ms. Harris moved on to a fund-raising event with wealthy “expat” donors. The event was held at the upscale residential and commercial complex Ciudadela, owned by an Act 60 beneficiary named Nicholas Prouty, whom Ms. Harris acknowledged as a good friend who kept her updated on the situation in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.

Ciudadela is also a symbol of Act 60, with a working-class community having been cleared to build luxury apartments and a dog park. It also played a role in the corruption trial of Puerto Rico’s former secretary of education Julia Keleher, who pleaded guilty to charges related to signing a letter ceding to developers the right to build on land adjacent to a public school in exchange for a discount on an apartment in the Ciudadela complex.

The Government Accountability Office is scrutinizing the Act 60 tax breaks, and the Internal Revenue Service is investigating those who have tried to benefit from the law while skirting its requirements. Ms. Harris left Puerto Rico with what was reported to be nearly half a million dollars in donations for President Biden’s re-election fund.

Rather than seek photo ops, the vice president would have done better to listen more closely to her party’s Puerto Rican House members, including Nydia Velazquez and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who have long been calling for greater federal oversight over Act 60 beneficiaries, greater scrutiny of the antidemocratic fiscal oversight board and a true federal commitment to addressing Puerto Rico’s status.

In the end, Ms. Harris’s visit encapsulates the contradictions of U.S. policy toward Puerto Rico. On the one hand, there’s a perfunctory nod to grass-roots empowerment, on the other, a cozying up to the very forces that are driving gentrification and displacement. While she did not toss paper towels , her visit was what Puerto Ricans call a papelón — an embarrassing spectacle.

Yarimar Bonilla , a contributing Opinion writer, is the author and editor of “ Non-Sovereign Futures: French Caribbean Politics in the Wake of Disenchantment ” and “Aftershocks of Disaster: Puerto Rico Before and After the Storm.”

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips . And here’s our email: [email protected] .

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Analysis of the Socio-Economic Challenges of Informal Settlements in Msholozi, South Africa

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This study aims to evaluate the socio-economic challenges that affect the inhabitants of the informal settlements in Msholozi, Mbombela, South Africa. Although many studies have been done about the challenges of informal settlements across the world, one thing is common; all informal settlements pose features that might be different due to the location. The age-long apartheid legacy that greatly influences the social and economic life of the people relative to their settlement patterns in South Africa was the main motivation for this study. To gather relevant information needed to achieve the objective of this study, household heads in Msholozi were interviewed. Findings reveal that lack of employment and poor remuneration for those with employment was paramount among the economic challenges, while the social challenges included poor facilities in school, health centre, and shopping centre among others. Interestingly, the residents of Msholozi are satisfied with their living environment. The study, however, recommends that government should be proactive in meeting the housing needs of its citizens as enshrined in the constitution to curb the proliferation of informal settlements in South Africa.

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  18. (Pdf) Socio-economic and Environmental Impacts of Informal Settlements

    Informal settlements provide shelter to millions of poor urban dwellers in developing countries. Using a literature survey, this paper reviews physical and socio-economic characteristics and the ...

  19. Essay About Informal Settlement

    Essay About Informal Settlement. 1377 Words6 Pages. In the past decade, the government always claim that the numbers of indigent in the Philippines are decreasing but it cannot deny the phenomenal growth of informal settlers across the country, especially in Metro Manila.

  20. (PDF) Research Proposal Informal settlements: A case study on the

    Informal or squatter settlements or as referred to slums during the 18th century are still existed in a large number in our society and they are created by low income or poor people or a result of having an adequate planning systems. The origin can. Informal or squatter settlements or as referred to slums during the 18th century are still ...

  21. Towards Understanding Fire Causes in Informal Settlements Based on

    Antonio Cicione. Informal settlements (ISs) are a high-risk environment in which fires are often seen. In 2019 alone, 5544 IS fires were reported in South Africa. One of the main problems, when ...

  22. Resilience Pathways of Informal Settlements in Nairobi ...

    This study investigates resilience pathways of informal settlements, and their diverse impacts through community-based participatory research in Mathare and Korogocho, Nairobi. Results reveal that resilience pathways were relatively stable in the 1970s and 1980s, declined in the 1990s, and changed towards more adaptive approaches in the 2000s. Each period accommodates a dynamic mix of ...

  23. Sustainability

    This paper aims to explore how we can utilize temporary and tactical urbanism in urban regeneration, focusing on its ability to redistribute power relations and foster inclusive processes. The research analysis compares two urban regeneration projects that were implemented under the concept of temporary urbanism in South Korea. The first case involves the transformation of a declining ...

  24. Kamala Harris's Epic Fail in Puerto Rico

    Guest Essay. Kamala Harris's Epic Fail in Puerto Rico. March 28, 2024. ... The area was originally an informal settlement built on public wetlands by those displaced after Hurricane Hugo in 1989 ...

  25. Analysis of the Socio-Economic Challenges of Informal Settlements in

    This section is devoted to the review of related literature on the subject matter of this research. The review was carried out from two perspectives, subsection 2.1 which dwelt on the economic challenges of informal settlements, and subsection 2.2 reviewed literature on the social implications of the informal settlements.. 2.1 The Economic Challenges and Impact of Informal Settlements