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The seven myths of ‘slums’ - myth 2: the poor are to blame

Adam Parsons
08 December 2010

 “...‘ordinary people’ – that is, all of us as citizens – have to slough off
the vestiges of cap-touching filialism and demand that those in power
help us to do what we can do locally for ourselves – by guaranteeing
our access to fair shares of available resources – and where essential, by
providing complementary infrastructure that cannot be installed locally
and that can be provided for all.” [i]


The deep-seated myth that the poor are to blame for their conditions of poverty echoes back to the earliest days of industrialisation in Western Europe. With a perverse inversion of cause and effect, the prevalence of extreme urban poverty and slum settlements is blamed not on the vagaries of industrial growth, failures in urban planning or the inequitable distribution of land and resources, but on poor people themselves. Today, many people continue to reason that the residents of slums are antisocial, uneducated and unwilling to work, or else they would not be living in such conditions of deficiency and squalor. Once denied a place in civic life and urban culture, slum residents are subsequently viewed as an impediment to the progress and betterment of society.[ii] A sinister consequence of such prejudiced attitudes to the poor is seen in the summary evictions of illegal settlements. Although the underlying reasons for slum clearance operations is likely to differ from official justifications, an intolerance of slum residents – and an unwillingness among governments to acknowledge their role in the causes of slum formation – is an attitude that motivates and psychologically permits the forced relocation of the poor.

In the early twentieth century, the transfer of rural poverty to cities was prevented by the enforced controlling of urban entry from large parts of the agrarian population. In its most extreme form, the British colonial cities of eastern and southern Africa prevented urban migration through the enactment of pass laws, alongside vagrancy ordinances in the cities. While such policies led to the formation of neglected shantytowns on the fringes of cordoned cities, the European settlers brooked no responsibility for the underprivileged or indentured native poor.[iii] In the 1950s and early 1960s, when national independence and the overthrow of dictatorships led to a deluge of poor migrants into Third World cities, indigenous government attitudes to the rapid growth of slums was generally no more enlightened than their colonial predecessors. Often described as a “cancer” and thus in need of eradication, a common reaction to squatter settlements was large-scale bulldozing programmes – at times encouraged by Western-trained ‘experts’ and professionals.[iv] An important change in the housing policies of most governments in the South took place by the mid-1970s, in part stemming from the recognition that squatter settlements or other forms of illegal housing are a permanent part of a city’s growth. Governments gradually realised that eradication policies were not part of the solution but, in terms of displacing families into worse conditions and damaging their networks of social cohesion, rather exacerbate the problem.[v]

This shift in attitude was given an intellectual validation in the work of the English architect John F. C. Turner, whose publication Housing by People: Towards Autonomy in Building Environments was printed in the same year as the first United Nations Conference on Human Settlements was held in 1976. The new wisdom that Turner promoted, after being influenced by the creative ingenuity he witnessed in the squatter settlements of Peru, sought to nurture the self-help housing of the urban poor through an in situ approach to slum upgrading (meaning ‘in the same place’, referring to the improvement of an existing habitat without forced relocation to another site). Turner argued that housing is best provided and managed by those who are to live in it, rather than being centrally administered by the state through a ‘top-down’ approach to the reform of urban poverty. His pithily-written book is one of the most widely-read critiques of public housing programmes, which had largely failed to allocate sufficient and appropriate units to low-income groups in Third World countries during the 1960s and 1970s.[vi] As Turner famously pointed out in one of his early essays: “Housing is a verb”, and as such the industrialised countries had much to learn from the communal housing constructions of rapidly developing cities in the Global South.[vii] The role of the state, as well as private professionals and international donors, was reconceptualised in Turner’s writings as an ‘enabler’ of the urban poor in their incrementally-built squatter housing, and the existence of slums was considered less the problem than the solution. Such was the impact of Turner’s ideas on housing policies worldwide that even the World Bank was influenced by his concepts and methods, officially changing its position from the mid-1970s to endorse slum upgrading instead of new site development for squatters.[viii]

The collective power of the urban poor

Since Turner first observered that poor people living in slums were building for their own needs much more effectively than governments or public agencies, a compelling amount of evidence backs up his view that the urban poor are not a burden upon the developing city, but are often its most dynamic resource. The immense ingenuity and resilience of those who occupy illegal settlements on private or public land, frequently in the most dangerous or uninhabitable areas of the city, is witnessed in the remarkable diversity of their habitations - such as the self-made houses built on thick bamboo stilts on the edge of marshes, as in Bahia’s alagadosi or on the ponds outside Dhaka; or on steep hillsides unfit for conventional construction, as in the favelas of Rio; or inside floodplains, as in many of Jakarta’s kampungs or the lagoon community of Makoko in Lagos; or even in cemeteries, as in Cairo’s infamous el-arafa. Not only do the residents of squatter communities receive little or no expenditure from the government on infrastructure and services, they also tread more lightly on the planet, using far fewer resources (water, electricity and other services) and generating lower levels of waste than their wealthier neighbours.[ix] The slum, when considering its high density, minimal land occupation, low-cost of production and large population size, is the most ‘sustainable’ form of housing construction by any yardstick.[x] And yet low-income groups rarely receive official acknowledgement or support for their role in the construction and management of urban housing across Africa, most of Asia and Latin America.

While achieving considerable feats of inventiveness in self-help housing on an individual basis, the organised and collective power of the urban poor can also produce exceptional results. In many developing countries, the lowest income urban residents have formed into national federations of ‘slum’ and ‘shack’ dwellers that are actively engaged in addressing their own needs, both in building new homes and upgrading existing settlements. In 1996, several of these federations and community-based organisations joined forces to found an umbrella organisation, Slum/Shack Dwellers International (S.D.I.), that represents urban poor groups from 28 countries of the Global South.[xi] At the local level, three main techniques are employed in the self-help development of poor communities; conducting neighbourhood surveys to create census data, setting up community-controlled pools of capital for savings and loan collaboratives, and negotiating with government officials to build housing and secure basic services and infrastructure. In this way, slum residents are placed in charge of improving their own circumstances, leading to greater self-reliance and community empowerment.[xii]

Over the last 20 years, a growing number of urban poor organisations have shifted from making demands on the state – such as to acquire land for housing or security of tenure, or to prevent being summarily evicted from their homes – to a collaborative approach with governments and aid agencies. The reasons for this shift are broadly two-fold; firstly, there are limitations to what the inhabitants of informal settlements can achieve through their own autonomous actions, however well organised these may be. The importance of community-managed savings groups, local schools and clubs may be greatly underestimated and often invisible, but government support remains essential in the provision of larger systems of trunk infrastructure for water, sanitation, drainage, garbage collection and roads. Collective organisation in many low-income settlements may also be limited by the diversity of political allegiances and ethnic ties among the urban poor. Secondly, demands made on state institutions by community-based organisations are characterised by slow and difficult negotiations that usually take many years to be achieved in a piecemeal fashion, and without support for comprehensive upgrading of existing settlements.[xiii] Even when the state has allocated considerable resources to urban poverty reduction, the projects built by government bodies or the contractors they hire is often inappropriately designed, of poor quality, and in unsuitable locations unless urban poor organisations have an influence over how it is designed and managed.[xiv]

Pro-poor change through cooperation

The shift from “protest to co-production” was first developed by the National Slum Dwellers Federation in India during the 1980s, principally by its founder Jockin Arputhum (popularly known as Jockin, who later became president of the S.D.I. network). After working tirelessly to build federations of slum-dwellers across India, his initial focus was on protesting against injustices felt by the urban poor, especially with regard to evictions, and on making demands upon the state for basic services. Although the federations achieved many successes, mainly through their strength in numbers and occasionally through support from the courts, Jockin recognised that demands on state organisations had limited value if these organisations were incapable of fulfilling them. He also saw that pro-poor change would always be limited, no matter how large the coalition or social movement of the urban poor, so long as bureaucrats and politicians saw them as trouble-makers and the ‘opposition’, and therefore as the ‘problem’.[xv] As Jockin notes in a biographical essay, he was arrested some 67 times in the 1960s alone and frequently jailed, which sometimes attracted as many as 10,000 people to demonstrate outside the police station for his release. Recalling the realisation that led to his eventual change of tactic in the 1980s, he writes: “It was during these years that I saw a need to change the approach. I was doing all the agitation, breaking this and that, being completely militant, but the material benefit to the people was zero. I couldn’t even build one toilet. I had not even asked the government if it could build the toilet.”[xvi]

As national and city-wide federations of slum and shack dwellers have developed in many nations since the late 1980s, the success of the new approach has helped to trigger acceptance of low-income communities as legitimate parts of the city – helping to break down the myth that poorer groups are ‘other’ or less equal to richer citizens. In part drawing on and learning from the example laid down by the Indian federations, the citizen-led model of co-production - combining autonomous action, which demonstrates the abilities and capacity of the urban poor groups, with offers of partnership to government agencies - has been promoted by the S.D.I. network across 28 countries of the Global South; first in South Africa (where security of tenure has been negotiated for 23,000 families since 1991, and over 15,800 houses have been constructed by federations in collaboration with the state); and then across countries in Latin America, Africa and most of Asia.[xvii] Thailand, the third country to adopt the federation model of action in low-income settlements, has achieved by far the highest number of active community savers of all – at over 5 million people, with an estimated collected sum of $206 million – and built the largest number of citizen-led, co-produced houses at 40,000 units.[xviii]

In contrast to common stereotypes about the incompetence and laziness of the poor, or about the inability of community groups to collaborate with governments and international agencies, many remarkable case studies can be cited on how the community-led model of upgrading is able to successfully formalise squatter settlements and ameliorate slums [see Box 1]. In the case of Baan Mankong in Thailand, a total of 14,642 families were included in a myriad of diverse upgrading, reconstruction and land-sharing projects, alongside negotiations for land tenure security (on a cooperative, individual or leasehold basis).[xix] In the case of Pakistan, where 24 million people live in informal urban settlements or peripheral urban land, projects in 248 locations across the country have demonstrated that communities can finance, manage and build internal sewerage development in cooperation with the local government.[xx] In the district of Orangi, for example, local people financed and built sewers for the benefit of 98,527 houses.[xxi] And in Buenos Aires, Argentina, a popular social organisation called the Madres de Plaza de Mayo Association signed a joint agreement with the city government and neighbourhood housing cooperatives in 2007 to rehabilitate a factory in an old industrial warehouse. Adopting construction methods based on experiences from Cuba, the factory is now able to build at least 5,000 new housing units each year – with the first pilot project successfully constructing 105 housing units, at considerably lower costs compared to traditional techniques, as well as community facilities including a school, a child day care centre, parks, lighting and shops (with a new local authority office built for the community by the government).[xxii]

Box 1. Case studies in aided self-help: Thailand and Argentina

A nation-wide slum upgrading programme initiated by the Thai government in January 2003 under the name Baan Mankong (“Secure Housing”) demonstrated the potential of collaborations between low-income residents and local governments, development professionals, universities and non-governmental organisations to achieve the large-scale upgrading and improvement of existing settlements. With the immensely ambitious target of improving housing conditions and security of tenure for 300,000 households in 2,000 poor communities across 200 Thai cities within a five-year time-frame – providing for at least half the urban poor communities in Thailand, the Baan Mankong project illustrated the positive repercussions of enabling urban poor groups to lead the process and generate local partnerships.[xxiii] In sharp contradistinction to conventional approaches to slum upgrading or slum redevelopment, the project imposed as few conditions as possible on the urban poor communities. With the freedom to design their own programme, the community groups were able to work as the key actors in control of funding, management, and also most of the building work (instead of using contractors). A basic principle in the programme is to upgrade existing settlements in situ wherever possible, as this avoids disrupting a households’ employment or income-earning activities and their social networks, and where relocation is necessary a site to develop new homes is sought close by to minimise the economic and social costs to households. Government agencies were no longer the sole planners, implementers and construction managers delivering to beneficiaries, and the role of the urban poor was transformed from being passive recipients of state hand-outs into becoming the most active change agents in a city-wide programme of development.[xxiv]

If the urban poor and their income-earning activitities and settlements are often viewed as the ‘problem’ in a city, the housing projects led by community groups demonstrate their inspiring capacity to improve their own conditions and negotiate with municipal authorities. Popular housing production in Buenos Aires, Argentina, also shows the scale of what can be achieved when politically organised social movements shift from making demands and protests to conducting dialogue with the state. Following neoliberal economic adjustment policies during the 1990s (summarised by deregulation, privatisation of public services and state reform), high rates of unemployment, along with an enormous increase in the amount of people living in very low-income informal settlements across the city, led to widespread popular protests by the marginalised urban poor.[xxv] The piquete (picket line) tactics of these new social movements and organisations, mainly in the form of interrupting traffic on main roads or mobilising masses of people around strategic sites, took on such a wide visibility that they began to seriously threaten the survival of the existing political structure.[xxvi]

Despite securing many successes in terms of welfare programmes and political representation, some of these movements began to adopt self-managing processes as a way of maintaining their political independence from the state. For example, the picket movement MTL (Movimiento Territorial de Liberacion) decided to become involved in housing production, setting up a construction cooperative that employed only grassroots movement members – most of whom possessed no formal labour experience. Although the local government housing institute in Buenos Aires deemed their initial project “insane”, the self-managed scheme on Monteagudo Street successfully covered 18,000 square metres, constructed 326 apartments in two- and three-storey buildings, and included a complex of 10 business premises for commercial and service micro-enterprises. The new layout and architecture of the street, that would befit a middle-class suburb of any city in Western Europe or North America, was carefully not shut off from the wider community or consigned into becoming a “concentration of the poor”; rather, sidewalks were repaired, an old industrial buildings area was restored, and community facilities were opened to the neighbourhood at large, including child day care and medical assistance centres. From its outset, the social housing project was planned out by the urban poor themselves to achieve several wider community aims; to act as a training ground for cooperative members to incorporate themselves into the ‘working class’ culture, to reduce the disaffiliation of the underprivileged sectors, to create more jobs, and to end social exclusion by stimulating the heterogenous integration of the project’s residents with the existing neighbourhood.[xxvii]

With such evidence of the resourcefulness, capacity and organisation ability of the urban poor, the real question is not whether they are to ‘blame’ for their poverty, but why their valiant efforts at improving their conditions continue to be thwarted or ignored by so many governments. On one hand, the rhetoric of urban development agencies gives many reasons for being optimistic about the discarding of negative stereotypes about the poor living in slums and shantytowns. Over the past three decades, the United Nations has developed several comprehensive frameworks that outline the importance of involving slum residents in the decision-making and design processes of slum improvement, as well as in the construction of new housing and infrastructure services. In 1996, the Habitat Agenda adopted by 171 countries mapped out the principles and actions that can lead to sustainable human settlements, emphasising an “enabling approach” that governments should support in the community-based production of housing.[xxviii] In a 2005 landmark report by the UN Task Force on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers, an entire chapter was dedicated to ‘Recognizing the urban poor as active agents in development’, with a further section on the need for greater financial and institutional support of slum-dwellers and their organisations.[xxix] As reflected in the scores of publications by UN-HABITAT since the late 1970s, “participatory slum improvement” is today the accepted best practice for housing interventions in developing countries.[xxx] On paper at least, it would seem that John Turner’s influence in the formation of slum-upgrading policies has held a long-lasting legacy in official development circles.

On the other hand, there are many reasons to be less optimistic about the empowerment and reconceptualisation of the urban poor. So far, participatory slum improvement initiatives have mostly been adopted on a limited scale or consist of demonstration projects in developing countries.[xxxi] As squatter settlements continue to swell in most rapidly-urbanising cities, the work undertaken by informal community or neighbourhood organisations in improving slums and providing basic services - whether on their own or with appropriate support from official agencies - has had little impact on the living conditions of the poor in overall terms. And for every example of a successful community-led upgrading scheme, there are as many examples of slum clearance operations and forced evictions. Although “aided self-help” is the hailed policy approach of most governments today, a series of global surveys of forced evictions by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) paints a very different picture. In the most recent survey of the period 2003-2006, over 2 million people in Africa and almost 3.5 million people in Asia and the Pacific were forcibly evicted from their homes. Furthermore, nearly 175,000 people in the Americas and over 16,000 people in Europe suffered from forced eviction in the same period. These operations are normally carried out by government police forces and frequently involve large-scale demolition programmes. Usually directed at the poor living in informal settlements or slums, entire communities of tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of people are forcibly removed, leaving the victims homeless and subject to deeper poverty, discrimination and social exclusion.[xxxii]

Clearing out the poor

As the global assessments by COHRE make clear, a dramatic paradigm shift is still required in the areas of urban governance and development, but powerful economic forces make it difficult to challenge the mindset of those leaderships which overlook or sanction slum clearance operations.[xxxiii] Although there are many different causes of forced evictions, the perpetrators generally justify their actions in the name of ‘development’ – with the implication that removing the poor from informal or illegal housing is on behalf of the public good.[xxxiv] The fate of Mumbai in India is a notable example. In January 2005, government officials pushed forward with a scheme to demolish all squatter communities throughout the city. Some 300,000 people were made homeless in the first round of slum clearance, described as “the most brutal demolition drive in recent times” by the UN’s special rapporteur on adequate housing. If all shanties built after 1995 continue to be demolished as announced, up to three million people will be made homeless. The aim, according to the state Chief Minister, was to “turn Mumbai into another Shanghai” by replacing the chaos of slum settlements with a new city open for ‘development’. In the public discussions about the demolition plans, a section of the middle-class argued that slum-dwellers are a social burden who deprive tax-paying citizens of public services; some eminent artists and writers even argued that those settled on land illegally should be disenfranchised.[xxxv] More disturbingly, the courts in India abruptly retreated from defending the right to life, livelihood and adequate housing for the urban poor. In the case of Almitra Patel vs. the Union of India (2000), the court said that slums were “...large areas of public land, usurped for private use free of cost”. The slum-dweller was named an “encroacher”, and the resettlement following eviction that was hitherto mandatory suddenly became a matter of injustice; “...rewarding an encroacher on public land with an alternative free site is like giving a reward to a pickpocket for stealing”.[xxxvi]

As a result of these attitudes, the slum is effectively reduced to a “flat image” of all that is undesirable in a modernising city, and becomes something without history or structure, and devoid of the politics behind its creation. The failure of the state to build low-income housing, and the productivity and community relations that also characterise the slum, are all eclipsed. As the author Gautam Bhan writes: “Thus reduced, evictions and resettlement become not tales of the destruction of individual people’s lives and livelihoods, but simply the erasure of the image of a slum, emptied of the people who live within it.”[xxxvii] This was the context in which 75,000 shanties were demolished in Mumbai early in January 2005, with cleared areas fenced off by barbed wire and guards stationed to prevent reoccupation, even as the homeless lingered outside with nowhere else to go.[xxxviii] It is also the context in which Jockin Arputham, the aforementioned leader of the National Slum Dwellers Federation of India, is leading a battle to prevent Dharavi in Mumbai – the largest informal settlement in India – from being simply bulldozed and transformed into new commercial and residential developments (even though Dharavi was originally constructed by the work of the poor by using mud, sand and stones to raise the marshland above flood level, and without any government support).[xxxix] Although Mumbai may be an extreme case study of anti-poor discrimination, similar examples can be cited from other cities across the Global South [see Myths 3 and 7]. Despite the collective organisation and growing influence of the slum-dweller federations, the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of low-income groups continue to be threatened by formidable state power, market power and global economic pressures. And for all the official rhetoric from governments and development agencies on the human rights of slum residents and ‘participatory slum improvement’, the urban poor continue to be blamed for being anti-progress.

At their root, these deeply ingrained attitudes against the poor represent a lack of compassion and humanitarian concern that shamefully contrasts with the noble words of many United Nations declarations. Slums characteristically grow on land that is virtually worthless at the time of settlement, often on waste grounds or low-lying areas or beside canals, which is then reclaimed and made habitable without any government assistance. As the world’s cities rapidly expand and the middle-classes - with greater purchasing power and political support - want more space for better housing, business centres, recreational areas and tourist attractions, so the poor are threatened with eviction from their self-made homes. The more prosperous the city becomes, the more unwanted and expendable become the urban poor, and the more liable they are to be cleared away. While the city space is transformed by the ‘globalisation’ of the world economy, governments fail to prioritise the basic needs of the poorest citizens who are left behind. Notwithstanding the moral negligence of this approach, governments also fail to capitalise on the most powerful resource in the rapidly urbanising city – the urban poor themselves, who have a proven capacity for upgrading slums when given the right kind of support from state authorities. This represents one of the most crucial questions in both the fight against urban poverty, as well as the formulation of policies that account for the social and environmental costs which are part of urban change: will the leaders of municipalities, national governments and international agencies together recognise and support the ability of the poor to organise and help develop an inclusive city? Or will the hundreds of millions of slum residents continue to be resisted as a threat to established institutions, and therefore become further marginalised, dispossessed, and bulldozed out of existence?



[i] John F.C. Turner, Housing by People, Marion Boyers, 1976, pp. 23-26. 

[ii] see Nandini Gooptu, The Politics of the Urban Poor in Twentieth-Century India, Cambridge University Press, 2001, p. 421.

[iii] Sue Jones and Nici Nelson. Urban Poverty in Africa: From understanding to alleviation, Immediate Technology

Publications, London, 1999.

[iv] Squatter Citizen, pp. 41-3.

[v] Ibid, pp. 43-4, 95.

[vi] Ibid, pp. 106-117.

[vii] John Turner, ‘Housing is a Verb’, in John Turner and Robert Fichter (eds), Freedom to Build: Dweller Control of the Housing Process, New York, 1972. 

[viii] Rod Burgess, ‘Petty commodity housing or dweller control? A critique of John Turner’s views on housing policy’, World Development, Vol 6., 1978, pp. 1105-1133.

[ix] Janice E. Perlman and Molly O'Meara Sheehan, State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future, Worldwatch Institute, November 2006, see chapter 9.

[x] Kirtee Shah, ‘Agenda 21 for Sustainable Construction in Developing Cities’, in Luigi Fusco Girard et al (eds), The human sustainable city: challenges and perspectives from the habitat agenda, Ashgate Publishing, 2003, p. 291. 

[xi] As of September 2008. See Shack/Slum Dwellers International, About Us, www.sdinet.org/about-us/ (accessed May 2010)

[xii] Robert Neuwirth, ‘Bricks, Mortar and Mobilization’, in Ford Foundation Report, vol.36, issue 2/3, Spring-Summer 2005, pp. 13-18.

[xiii] ‘Citizen Driven Action on Urban Poverty Reduction’, Environment & Urbanisation Brief 17, International Institute for Environment and Development, October 2008, p2; see also David Satterthwaite, ‘Editorial: The Social and Political Basis for Citizen Action on Urban Poverty Reduction’, in Environment & Urbanisation: City Governance and Citizen Action, Vol 20 no. 2, October 2008, pp 311-313.

[xiv] For example, the government of South Africa supported one of the world’s largest and most generous subsidy programmes to support low-income households, but many of the buildings were of poor quality and often inappropriately located owing to the lack of involvement of urban poor organisations in the management and design of the project. See David Satterthwaite, ibid, p. 313.

[xv] Ibid, pp 311-313.

[xvi] Jockin Arputham, ‘Developing new approaches for people-centred development’, in Environment & Urbanisation: City Governance and Citizen Action, Vol 20 no. 2, October 2008, p. 336.

[xvii] As of September 2008. See Shack/Slum Dwellers International, About Us, www.sdinet.org/about-us/ (accessed May 2010)

[xviii] See table 1: Examples of the savings and work programmes of the federations, in Environment & Urbanisation Brief 17, op cit, p. 3.

[xix] Somsook Boonyabancha, ‘Baan Mankong: Going to Scale with “Slum” and Squatter Upgrading in Thailand’, in Environment & Urbanization, Vol. 17 no. 1, April 2005, p. 34.

[xx] In 2006, the architect and planner Arif Hasan estimated that 9 million people in Pakistan live in unauthorised urban settlements on government land, and another 15 million live in the informal sub-division of agricultural land on the periphery of Pakistan’s cities and towns. See Arif Hasan, ‘Orangi Pilot Project: The Expansion of Work Beyond Orangi and the Mapping of Informal Settlements and Infrastructure’, in Environment & Urbanisation, Vol 18 no. 2, October 2006, p. 454.

[xxi] Ibid, pp. 451-2.

[xxii] Mariano Scheinsohn and Cecilia Cabrera, ‘Social Movements and the Production of Housing in Buenos Aires; When Polices Are Effective’, in Environment & Urbanisation: City Governance and Citizen Action II, Vol 21, No. 1, April 2009, pp. 119-123.

[xxiii] Somsook Boonyabancha, op cit, pp. 21-46.

[xxiv] Ibid.

[xxv] The population living in very low-income informal settlements in Buenos Aires alone increased from under 20,000 people in 1982, to over 100,000 in 2001. See figure 1 in Mariano Scheinsohn and Cecilia Cabrera, op cit, p. 110.

[xxvi] Mariano Scheinsohn and Cecilia Cabrera, op cit, p. 112.

[xxvii] Ibid, pp. 113-119.

[xxviii] See ‘The Habitat Agenda Goals and Principles, Commitments and the Global Plan of Action’, Habitat II conference in Istanbul, Turkey, 3-14 June 1996.

[xxix] Pietro Garau, Elliott D. Sclar and Gabriella Y. Carolini, A Home in the City: Achieving the Millennium Development Goals, Task Force on Improving the Lives of Slum Dwellers, Earthscan, 2005.

[xxx] For example, see UN-HABITAT, State of the World’s Cities 2006/7, Earthscan, 2006.

[xxxi] UN-HABITAT, ‘Slums: Past, Present and Future – the Critical Role of Policy’, paper prepared for the Secretary General’s visit to Kibera, Nairobi 30-31 January, 2007.

[xxxii] Deanna Fowler et al, Global Survey on Forced Evictions: Violations of Human Rights 2003-2006, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), Geneva, December 2006.

[xxxiii] Ibid, pp. 5-6.

[xxxiv] Other causes of forced eviction may include tenure insecurity/absence of formal rights; development and infrastructure projects; large international events, such as the Olympic Games; urban redevelopment and ‘beautification’ initiatives; property market forces and ‘gentrification’; absence of state support for the poor; political conflict, ethnic cleansing; and war. See Deanna Fowler et al, op cit, p. 9.

[xxxv] Sandhya Srinivasan, ‘Tsunami-Like Devastation Hits Mumbai Slum Dwellers’, Inter Press Service, January 30, 2005, http://ipsnews.net

[xxxvi] Gautam Bhan, ‘“This is no longer the city I once knew”. Evictions, the urban poor and the right to the city in millennial Delhi’, in Environment & Urbanisation: City Governance and Citizen Action II, Vol 21, No. 1, April 2009, p. 135.

[xxxvii] Ibid, p 140.

[xxxviii] Sandhya Srinivasan, op cit.

[xxxix] see Sheela Patel and Jockin Arputham, ‘Plans for Dharavi: negotiating a reconciliation between state-driven market redevelopment and residents’ aspirations’’, in Environment & Urbanisation, Vol 20 no 1., April 2008, pp. 243-254.

Link to full report [pdf]: The Seven Myths of 'Slums' - Challenging Popular Prejudices About the World's Urban Poor

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