|Community Participation in the Execution of Squatter Settlements Upgrading Projects - Training Module (HABITAT, 1985, 52 p.)|
The course paper (white), for distribution to the trainees, describes the various aspects of community participation in the execution of squatter settlement upgrading projects. It cites examples from upgrading schemes in various parts of the world and raises issues which have to be resolved for successful implementation of community participation in the execution of squatter settlement upgrading projects.
In most cities of developing countries, the poor have few or no opportunities to acquire a house in a conventional housing scheme. Most housing developments in urban areas are intended for middle-income or high-income groups, and such housing schemes as are launched for low-income families cannot meet the enormous demand of the urban poor for low-cost houses; moreover, the houses in these schemes are often still too expensive for the income groups for which they are intended.
As a consequence, the urban poor in developing countries tend to live as tenants in overcrowded and dilapidated slums or as squatters in spontaneously developed settlements erected without authorization from the Government and without permission from the owners of the land. At present, millions of people, sometimes more than half of a country's urban population, live as squatters on the city outskirts or on land within the city not used for other purposes (riverbeds, land along railway lines etc.)
Until the 1970s, the usual policy of the authorities towards squatter settlements was to clear the land by demolishing the structures and resettling the inhabitants in low-cost housing schemes or in rural areas. The effect of this slum-clearance policy was negative: families resettled in low-cost housing schemes could usually not afford the cost of the houses and would quickly abandon their dwellings; families resettled in rural areas would seize the first opportunity to return to the city where they could at least make a living; for affordable shelter, both groups would resort again to squatting, sometimes on the very land from which they had been removed.
In 1975, the Government of Bangladesh started a slum-clearance operation in Dhaka, and the squatters were the first to be affected. About 200,000 squatters were forced either to return to their native villages or to settle in one of three resettlement camps which were 5, 8 and 12 miles from Dhaka, respectively. Because the journey from the camp to work in the city was either prohibitively expensive or physically impossible, many lost their jobs and faced starvation.
Many, particularly those in distant camps, went back to live in the city. They were Dhaka's re-squatters. They built shacks in desolate areas, on marginally usable land and along railway tracks. They now had to live in a more pitiable condition than before: they had lost their tiny hovels and all their belongings, and had to start anew.
(Syed Abu Hasnath, Consequences of Squatter Removal, Ekistics 263, October 1977).
Because of the ineffectiveness of slum-clearance policies and in view of the political repercussions of the removal of large numbers of squatters, many governments began to ignore the squatter settlements and their populations. This meant that the authorities would not take any action to demolish the settlement but, on the other hand, kept the squatters under the permanent threat of eviction. Under these conditions, squatters were generally reluctant to bring about any improvement of their housing conditions on a self-help basis.
In the early 1970s, the awareness grew among governments and international development agencies that squatter settlements should not be looked at as a mere symptom of the housing problem of the urban poor but rather as their contribution to its solution. Demolition of squatter settlements means the destruction of considerable investments in labour and money made by the urban poor. It does not solve any problem, as the poor do not have an alternative to squatting, and it only leads to the reduction of the already limited housing stock available to low-income families.
Authorities gradually realized that, instead of demolishing a squatter settlement, they should regularize and upgrade it, so that the existing housing stock is preserved and the housing conditions for the residents are improved. Research on squatter settlements indicated that, once the threat of eviction is removed and the squatters feel secure, they are able and willing to invest their savings in the improvement of their houses. What squatters cannot do alone is to fit the settlement with infrastructure and services; in an upgrading project, this is the responsibility of the authorities.
Squatter-settlement upgrading therefore basically consists of two components: regularization of land tenure, i.e. the residents of the settlement receive a title for the plot they occupy; improvement of the settlement, i.e. the settlement is provided with basic infrastructure and services. The improvement of the houses is left to the residents themselves, and improved security of tenure is expected to be a sufficient incentive for them to invest in the improvement of their houses.
Community participation is an indispensable element in any squatter-settlement upgrading project if the community which originally developed the settlement is now to have the responsibility for improving the houses in the settlement. In a squatter-settlement upgrading project, unlike a conventional housing scheme or a sites-and-services project, the target population is already on site, and it is necessary to involve the community in the preparation of the regularization and upgrading plans. Without active co-operation, the plans cannot be implemented. Moreover, in view of the magnitude of the housing problem of the urban poor, no government is in a position to finance, on its own, the regularization and upgrading of all squatter settlements in urban areas, and communities, therefore, have to pay all or most of the costs of upgrading projects.
In the context of squatter-settlement upgrading, community participation can be defined as the voluntary and democratic involvement of beneficiaries in contributing to the execution of the project, in sharing the benefits derived therefrom and in making decisions with respect to setting goals, formulating the project and preparing and implementing the plans.
This course paper describes the execution of squatter-settlement upgrading projects from the perspective of community participation. In this respect, 10 phases can be distinguished in project execution, and each of the phases requires a particular involvement of the community:
(i) Selection of the settlement;
(iii) Community organization;
(iv) Establishment of priorities;
(v) Concept planning;
(vi) Project financing;
(vii) Detailed planning;
(ix) Payment of charges;
(x) House construction and improvement.
In defining community participation, the following questions will be asked when each of the listed phases in the execution of a squatter-settlement upgrading project is discussed:
(a) What can low-income families contribute to the execution of a squatter-settlement upgrading project?
(b) What can be done to ensure that low-income families actually benefit from an upgrading project?
(c) How can low-income families participate in planning, decision-making and implementation concerning the upgrading of their settlement?
PHASE 1: SELECTION OF THE SETTLEMENT
When a government launches a large-scale squatter-settlement upgrading programme, it also formulates criteria to determine which settlements qualify for regularization and upgrading, and which should be accorded priority. When determining which settlements qualify for regularization and upgrading, governments normally apply two criteria:
(a) The legalization of the squatter settlement must not interfere with other important plans for the development of the city;
(b) The cost of regularization and upgrading must not exceed the paying capacity of the community and/or the government.
In most cities, squatter settlements on valuable land would not last very long, as the landowner or the authorities would immediately intervene and demolish the settlement. Often, squatters know that, if they occupy valuable land, they will be removed quickly and, therefore, they avoid squatting on land which is designated for important developments.
Consequently, the land occupied by squatter settlements often suffers from one or more deficiencies which have prevented it from being developed: it is subject to flooding; it is difficult to supply with infrastructure for technical or financial reasons; it has steep slopes or unsuitable soil; it is prone to natural hazards, such as hurricanes, earthquakes or tidal waves. It is, of course, possible to overcome such deficiencies, but the cost of doing so tends to be higher than the cost of preparing a new site.
Squatter settlements which cannot be regularized and upgraded obviously pose a problem for the authorities. Most governments take the position that, once they launch a large-scale upgrading programme, those settlements which can be upgraded should be upgraded, while those which cannot be upgraded should be demolished and the population resettled. As seen before, demolition of squatter settlements cannot solve the housing problem of the urban poor, unless there is an affordable alternative to squatting. An upgrading programme, therefore, has to be complemented by a programme of sites-and-services schemes whereby squatters can be resettled. Otherwise, it seems desirable to leave intact those squatter settlements which cannot be regularized.
Squatter invasion at Puente Huascar, Peru. The authorities relocated the invaders on the grounds that high-voltage electricity cables and contaminated streams were a hazard to the squatters. The land was also centrally located and valuable for development.
Some areas, despite uninviting topography, are suitable for upgrading. In La Paz, Bolivia, for example, virtually all squatter areas are located on mountainsides but despite this the authorities are upgrading the settlements.
After the list of upgradable squatter settlements has been established, the government has to decide which settlements should be regularized and upgraded first. When it comes to defining the urgency of upgrading settlements, authorities tend to look at such characteristics of the settlement as the population size (large settlements have priority), the age of the settlement (old settlements have priority) and the over-all living conditions in the settlement (high-density settlements with little infrastructure and few services have priority).
In practice, the preceding selection criteria are not always applied. Pressure from the squatter-settlement community and others, rather than objective criteria, such as costs and living conditions, tends to determine whether a squatter settlement is regularized and upgraded or not.
After squatters have occupied a vacant piece of land and built simple houses, they wait to see what the reaction of the landowner and the authorities will be. If the landowner or the authorities do not come to demolish the settlement (which is often the case), the squatters will start improving their houses.
While squatters can construct houses and simple roads, they are unable to carry out infrastructural works, such as the construction of a water-supply network or a sewerage system. So, once the squatters feel sufficiently secure, they will organize themselves and elect local leaders who will try to gain support from politicians for the improvement of the settlement. The local leaders and the politicians can approach the authorities and ask for recognition of the settlement and the provision of basic infrastructure and services.
As a result, the authorities, after having launched a squatter-settlement upgrading programme, are under constant pressure from squatter communities and others to regularize and upgrade certain settlements as a first priority. If the pressure on the authorities is sufficiently strong, the selection criteria may eventually be forgotten and the settlements which can mobilize the most influential support will be regularized and upgraded first.
To let the extent of support determine which settlements must be upgraded on a priority basis could result in the most disadvantaged squatter communities never having a chance to have their settlements regularized and upgraded.
On the other hand, the mobilization of support indicates that a squatter community seeks to participate in decision-making for the squatter-settlement upgrading programme. If a community has organized itself and has elected local leaders, it must be motivated to participate in the regularization and upgrading of the settlement. This is an important advantage, when the authorities decide to regularize and upgrade the settlement.
Consequently, besides such criteria as the possibility of incorporating the settlement in an over-all city development plan and the cost level of regularization and upgrading, the extent of community motivation and organization must be taken into account, when authorities determine which squatter settlements should be regularized and upgraded as a first priority.
(a) What criteria should be utilized to select squatter settlements for upgrading?
(b) How can project staff measure the motivation of the community to participate in project execution?
(c) What activities should local authorities undertake for the population of squatter settlements which are not suitable for upgrading?
(d) How and when should squatter settlement populations be briefed about the upgrading of their settlements?
PHASE 2: SURVEYING
Types of surveys
The collection of data is the first step in planning the regularization and upgrading of a squatter settlement. For the collection of data, four different surveys are normally conducted:
(a) Reconnaissance survey;
(b) Physical survey;
(c) Socio-economic survey; and
(d) Inventory of infrastructure and services.
The purpose of a reconnaissance survey is mainly to acquaint the project staff with the settlement and its population, and to collect some general data. The survey is conducted through open interviews.
The data collected during a reconnaissance survey concern the age and exact boundaries of the settlement, the approximate size and composition of the population, the quality of houses, the willingness of residents to participate in the project, the presence of community organizations and community leadership, and any other important features of the settlement and its population.
A physical survey is a means of portraying and summarizing the various physical features of the settlement, such as the landscape (rivers, streams, cliffs, trees), the layout, the location and dimensions of plots, and land use. Also, data are collected for the preparation of a contour map which is needed to plan water supply, sewerage, drainage and roads in the settlement.
A socio-economic survey collects demographic data and looks into the living conditions of the population. It records such Information as family size and composition, employment situation and income, length of stay in the city and in the settlement, occupancy status and housing conditions. It may also serve as a means of collecting data on community organizations and local leadership. Normally, only a sample of the population has to be interviewed.
In most squatter settlements, some infrastructure and services have already been provided before the start of the upgrading project: roads have been constructed by, the community, the local authorities have supplied water to the settlement, and local voluntary organizations have extended medical and educational services to the population. An inventory is necessary to determine what kinds of infrastructure and services are available in the settlement and what would be needed.
Participation in surveying
A question which can be asked about these surveys is: should they be conducted by the project staff (or contractors) or can the community itself conduct the surveys? By definition, the project staff has to conduct the reconnaissance survey of the settlement, and a community rarely has the technical skills to carry out an accurate physical survey. The idea of asking the community to carry out a socio-economic survey and an inventory of infrastructure and services is, however, worth considering.
Two factors have to be taken into account: the technical ability of the community to conduct surveys and the reliability of data collected by the community. The execution of a socio-economic survey requires certain technical skills: a questionnaire has to be designed; if the population is large, a random sample has to be drawn; the data have to be computed and analysed etc. Even if it is able to conduct field interviews, a community is unlikely to have the know-how to carry out a large-scale socio-economic survey without intensive technical assistance from project staff.
Besides the need for technical skills, the reliability of the data collected is an important factor which has to be taken into consideration. A community may be inclined to ignore certain minority groups in the population, as it does not consider them real members of the community. In the inventory of infrastructure and services, a community may intentionally overlook some existing infrastructure and services to present the worst picture of the current situation. It is possible that residents will be reluctant to answer questions (e.g. about income), if the interviewer is from the same community as the respondent (the opposite is also possible).
Surveys adapted to the skills of local surveyors can prove effective. This questionnaire from a survey carried out by children of a slum community in Bangkok, Thailand, is simple, but asks the same questions as a more complex survey might. The above pages relate to household composition (left) and building materials used (centre-right).
In the Kampung Improvement Programme in Indonesia, the data for the preliminary survey regarding the social, economic and physical conditions in the kampungs are collected from the camat (sub-district head) and the lurah (neighbourhood leader) and the project authorities invite the camats to make suggestions of kampungs for improvement. However, this means that the information may be both incomplete and rather subjective.
(N. Devas, Indonesia's Kampung Improvement Programme: An Evaluative Case-Study, DAG Occasional Paper 10, University of Birmingham, 1980).
In summary, apart from the recruitment of interviewers and surveyors from the community (which cannot really be called community participation in surveying), the involvement of the community in the execution of necessary surveys needs careful consideration. Community participation in surveying will be most successful if the settlement is small, the community is homogeneous, and the data collected by the community can be easily checked by the project staff.
Announcing the surveys
Assuming that the project staff conducts the surveys, it is very important that the authorities inform the community before the surveys start that its area will be surveyed for the purpose of regularization and upgrading. Too often, physical and socio-economic surveys have been conducted in squatter settlements, and the communities have given their co-operation, without any direct benefit for the community or with the result that bulldozers have moved in to demolish the settlement. This has greatly increased the mistrust of squatter communities towards surveys.
The reconnaissance survey is the first opportunity for the project staff to brief the community or the local leaders about the project. It is, however, advisable that the authorities also make a formal announcement about the project and explain the purpose and the procedure followed.
As the interviews for the socio-economic survey are probably the first direct personal contact between residents and project staff, the surveyors must be properly briefed about the project so that they are able to explain the project and the purpose of the surveys to the public. Perhaps they should have explanatory documents which they can distribute to the population for this purpose.
After the reconnaissance survey has been completed, the physical survey should be conducted. One of the outcomes of the physical survey is a detailed map of the settlement, with the location of each plot and/or house. This map is very useful for drawing up a random sample of the population for the socio-economic survey and for locating the sample plots/houses on site.
Another function of the socio-economic and physical surveys is to provide data for the baseline study which is necessary to be able to evaluate the impact of the project after its completion. In the evaluation, two basic questions will be asked:
(a) Has the project improved the housing conditions in the settlement?
(b) Has the original population of the settlement benefited from the project?
To be able to answer these questions after the completion of the project, it is necessary to know the situation before the project started.
It is important that the community has access to the results of the various surveys, so that it understands why the surveys have been conducted and so that it can make corrections and add information, if necessary. This can best be done by displaying the survey results on posters in the project site office and by calling a meeting of the community or its local leaders to discuss them.
(a) Which surveys or parts of surveys can be conducted by the community?
(b) What kind of assistance should the project staff provide to communities which conduct their own surveys?
(c) How can project staff check the results of surveys conducted by communities?
(d) How and when should the community be briefed about surveys to be conducted in the settlement?
PHASE 3: COMMUNITY ORGANIZATION
Usually, there are too many residents in a squatter settlement to allow for direct contact between the project staff and all individual families. Participation of residents in the planning and implementation of a squatter-settlement upgrading project, therefore, requires some form of community organization. Through the reconnaissance survey, the type and nature of any community organization existing in the settlement can be explored and social and political leaders can be identified. This information can be further reinforced and supplemented by data collected through the socio-economic survey.
The surveys can reveal three different kinds of situations in the settlement:
(a) There is no appropriate organization in the settlement;
(b) There is one organization which covers either the entire population or only a part of it; or
(c) There are two or more organizations each covering some portion of the population (these organizations can be complementary, overlapping or competing).
The term organization, as used here, has a very broad meaning. It indicates any organization of whatever character (social, political, religious etc.) through which information and opinions can be exchanged between the authorities and the population, and which can serve as a platform for community participation in planning and decision-making.
No existing organization
If there is no suitable organization in the settlement which can serve the purpose of participation, one will have to be established. However, the fact that such an organization does not exist as yet may be an indication of the heterogeneity or the instability of the settlement's population, and this may have far-reaching consequences as regards the motivation of the population to participate in the execution of a squatter-settlement upgrading project.
For example, a large portion of the population of Bhutta Village, a squatter settlement in Karachi (Pakistan), consists of single men from the North-West Frontier Province who have found employment as dockworkers in the nearby port. As orthodox Muslims they do not want their families to live in this densely populated area. So, while their wives and children stay in the rural areas of Northern Pakistan, they live in deras (inns). It is understandable that their main interests lie in their home area, not in Bhutta Village.
In other squatter settlements, in particular the long-established ones, there are often many tenants among the residents. They are also not very interested in the regularization and upgrading of the settlement. The titles of the plots they occupy will go to the landlords, and, although tenants will also benefit from improved infrastructure and services, landlords are likely to recover increased costs from tenants by raising rents.
It is obvious that such categories of people as migrant workers and tenants are difficult to organize and motivate as participants in the execution of a regularization and upgrading project.
If a community organization has to be established, it could often start with a group of people who are not representative of the entire population. The best response to a new organization tends to come from people who, by nature or position, are already active, who see some direct personal interest in participation and/or who have the time and money needed to become involved. There may be no choice but to create an organization around these people. However, it is important to keep in mind that they do not necessarily represent the entire population and that efforts must be made to get 'the others' involved as well.
One existing organization
If there is only one organization in the settlement, it seems obvious to use that organization as a vehicle for community participation in the project, because creating a new organization with firm roots in the community is a long and arduous task. However, channelling community participation through an existing organization can also have its disadvantages. It is essential to know if the organization will be able to represent the entire population or only specific categories of residents. An organization may explicitly exclude certain people from becoming members, e.g. for ethnic or religious reasons. It may, intentionally or not, look after the interests of particular groups in the settlement (landlords, shopkeepers, employees etc.) to the exclusion of others. Even if an organization represents the vast bulk of the population, it is important to know who are or may be excluded, (e.g. women, recent migrants, ethnic or religious groups).
Besides the representativeness of the organization, it is important to know its relationship to the project and the project authorities. In Zambia, for instance, the (sole) political party, UNIP, is the dominant institutional force in the squatter settlements, hierarchically organized from national level down to the section level of the street or group of (25) houses. The Lusaka Housing Project Unit has therefore, always dealt with this party organization for community participation.
There are definite advantages in working through such an organization, as it guarantees good contacts with the government. However, it may not be possible for such an organization to represent the community independently of the authorities which are responsible for the project. On the other hand, to ignore such an organization is often also impossible.
If there is more than one organization in the settlement, a choice will have to be made, unless the organizations can be persuaded to join hands. In the Baldia Township Upgrading Project in Karachi, Pakistan, various considerations led to non-co-operation between a number of local organizations.
Sometimes, the solution is the bringing together of various organizations in a way which leaves the original organizations intact, but creates a new platform for community decision-making. In Tondo, Manila, more than 80 organizations could be united in this way. The disadvantages of this course of action include the need to introduce an extensive board of directors and to accept a slow and tedious decision-making process.
Organization and participation
Finally, it is important to note that organization is not identical with participation. In the case of large populations, a multi-tier organization working on the basis of delegation of powers becomes a necessity. On behalf of the population, representatives (elected or natural leaders) negotiate with the project staff and the authorities, in close consultation with the population. It is difficult to ensure, however, that the population is kept adequately informed by the representatives about these negotiations and that representatives express the opinions and defend the interests of the population, and do not merely present their own views. Participation by the community in the execution of a project through a community organization, therefore, presupposes participation by the Individual residents in the community organization.
(a) How can the project staff identify representative local leaders and community organizations?
(b) Which type of community organization is most suitable for the implementation of community participation?
(c) How and when should the project staff brief the community about the way in which and the extent to which it will participate in project execution?
(d) If several community organizations are identified in the settlement, how should the project staff bring about co-operation between these organizations?
(e) How can the project staff make certain that there is adequate consultation between the community and its representatives?
PHASE 4: ESTABLISHMENT OF PRIORITIES
An important step in planning the regularization and upgrading of a squatter settlement is the establishment of priorities for upgrading. In order to establish these priorities, it is necessary to make an inventory of the housing needs and problems of the settlement residents. The inventory can be prepared in various ways:
(a) The project staff assesses the living conditions in the settlement and prepares a list of the improvements considered most urgently needed;
(b) The project staff discusses the living conditions in the settlement with a selected group of local leaders from the community and prepares a list of the most urgently needed improvements in consultation with the leaders;
(c) The project staff approaches the population of the settlement and asks the people to list their needs and problems with regard to housing.
Obviously, the first two approaches provide little opportunity for the community to participate in the formulation of the list of priorities. However, it may be acceptable to use this approach to establish a first list of priorities which can later be presented to the community for a final selection.
If the project staff wants to approach the squatter population directly, it will have to organize meetings, first, with the local leaders and, then, with the community, to discuss the people's needs and problems. This will obviously take much time.
Another way to approach the community is to conduct a survey in the settlement, and, since a socio-economic survey is conducted in any case for planning purposes, two or three questions about the most urgently needed improvements can easily be included. A socio-economic survey is normally conducted on the basis of a random sample, i.e. not all residents are interviewed but only a portion which can be considered representative of the entire population. When drawing up the sample, the project staff should take into account that the housing problems are not identical for the different categories of the population. Women (and children), for instance, spend considerably more time in the settlement than men; while men complain about the lack of public transport, women will talk about the distance they have to walk to fetch water.
For the sake of clarity and to have a good idea of the housing conditions of the population, respondents should be asked about their most serious problems with housing rather than about their most urgently felt needs for improvement. After the survey data have been computed, the project staff can analyse the data, look into the causes of these problems and seek solutions for improvement.
The list of problems, causes and solutions is presented by the project staff to a meeting of the community or its representatives. In the meeting, the staff shows and explains very clearly what the exact relationship is between problems, causes and solutions. Only if the community understands this relationship, will it be in a position to make choices and be motivated to co-operate with the staff in the implementation of the improvement plans.
Once the project staff has explained the relationship between problems, causes and solutions, it presents its proposals for an improvement of the situation along with the estimated costs. In doing so, the staff has to make clear to the community that:
(a) The Government cannot afford to finance the cost of upgrading all squatter settlements in urban areas and, consequently, the beneficiaries of the project will have to pay all or most of the costs of improvement;
(b) The amounts mentioned are only estimates to facilitate the establishment of priorities within the financial constraints of the project;
(c) The contribution of free labour and materials by the community can reduce the cost of certain project components;
(d) Besides development costs, the community has to pay operational and maintenance costs and user-charges if applicable.
Upgrading plans are explained to residents for comments in a squatter-settlement upgrading project in Lusaka, Zambia.
Community participation in decision-making
It is now up to the community to decide which improvements it wants to give priority to within the financial constraints of the project (i.e. the paying capacity of the residents and the authorities). This phase of project execution is complicated but also very important for a smooth implementation of the plans. The project staff must give all its attention to a fair participation of the community in the establishment of priorities.
It is possible that the community decides not to include a component in the project which the project staff considers of utmost importance (e.g. sanitation). It is the task of the project staff to stress the importance of that particular component for the improvement of the living conditions in the settlement. Eventually, the staff may have to insist on the inclusion of that particular component in the project on account of municipal laws concerning public health, but this should only be done as a last resort.
Squatter communities consist of different interest groups which may be unable to reach an agreement on the kinds of infrastructure and services they want. For instance, shop-keepers may stress the importance of good roads so that vans and trucks can reach their stores, while residents who do not work in the area may give a high priority to schools and clinics. Compromises have to be made, and it is the responsibility of the project staff to see that all groups have the opportunity to voice their opinions and that no groups are disadvantaged in particular.
Since establishing priorities is a complicated exercise for both the project staff and the community, it is not advisable to make the final decisions at the first meeting. The meeting should be adjourned to give local leaders the opportunity to consult residents and give the choices a second thought. Between this meeting and any following one, the project staff should give as much publicity as possible to the results of the first meeting, so that all those who were not present know what was discussed and so that the local leaders do not give a distorted picture of the discussion, either intentionally or unintentionally. The staff should also be prepared to explain the proposals at meetings of local leaders with residents. In the second meeting, project staff and local leaders can take final decisions.
(a) Are there any improvements which the authorities consider essential for upgrading the settlement and can, therefore, not be discussed by the community?
(b) How can the project staff find out the priorities for improvement of the community?
(c) Which interest groups can be identified in the settlements, and what are their most likely priorities for improvement?
(d) Which groups in the community risk not being heard when priorities are established, and how can the project staff ensure that their interests are taken into account?
(e) How should the project staff explain the need and intention of cost recovery to the community?
PHASE 5: CONCEPT PLANNING
Once the community and the project staff have jointly taken the decision on which improvements are most urgently needed in the settlement, the regularization and upgrading plans can be prepared. Unless the settlement is very small, the planning is carried out in two stages: concept planning and detailed planning.
The objective of concept planning is to integrate the settlement into the over-all urban fabric and to prepare general proposals for the internal road network, water supply, sewerage and drainage systems and the location of infrastructural works.
Detailed plans (usually covering one neighbourhood) show details of the proposed infra-structural improvements and, as they serve as a legal basis for the issuing of title deeds, they show the exact location, dimensions and land use of the individual plots.
The planning of squatter-settlement regularization and upgrading is constrained by a number of factors:
(a) The preservation of the existing housing stock. The basic principle of squatter-settlement upgrading is that, instead of being demolished, the existing structures should be preserved as much as possible, and favourable conditions for their improvement should be created.
(b) Integration with the urban fabric. Squatter settlements develop spontaneously and without adequate planning. As a result, it is sometimes difficult to link the settlement to the city road network and water-supply and sewerage system.
(c) Technical possibilities for improvement. Squatter settlements have often been built on land which is unsuitable for development as a residential area. Certain types of infrastructure may be impossible to provide or can only be provided at a high cost.
(d) Conformity with existing plans. Usually, plans already exist for the area in which the squatter settlement is located. The regularization of the settlement may require a modification of those plans, but, whenever possible, the regularization and upgrading plan should take into account over-all plans for the area.
(e) The cost of regularization and upgrading. When the project staff and the community decide on the priorities for upgrading the settlement, they take the costs of upgrading and the paying capacity of the community and government into account. These cost estimates must not be exceeded.
In San Pedro, Ivory Coast, a limited number of houses will have to be demolished to improve the road network in the Bardo settlement. These are indicated in black in the drawing above. (from Manuel d'Urbanisme en Pays Tropical, volume 3: Le decoupage parcellaire, Secretariat des Missions d'Urbanisme et d'Habitat, Paris, 1977).
Preparation of plans
As a result of these constraints, the scope for planning is rather limited, and there is rarely a wide range of options available. The scope for community participation is, consequently, also rather limited, as the project planners are simply looking for the technical solutions which are feasible in view of these constraints.
Because of the limited scope for planning, the project staff usually prepares the concept plans without extensive consultation with the community. In this way, plans for the road network, the main water-supply network and the type of sanitation are prepared, a budget of the total regularizatcion and upgrading cost is drawn up, and the charges for individual residents are estimated. If any alternative solution is available, the project planners work on the different options.
When the concept plan and the financial plan have been completed, the project authorities call a meeting of the community or its representatives to explain the proposals (and possible options). If the community is too large and only representatives are present at the meeting, the representatives receive copies of the plans and are requested to call neighbourhood meetings to explain the proposals to the residents. Simultaneously, the proposals are displayed at several places in the settlement, and the project staff is available to brief residents who have questions about the plans.
The final decisions on the proposals can be made at a meeting of the project staff and the community (or its representatives). It is, however, also possible to give the residents (or the public at large) a formal opportunity to raise objections to the proposals. This may give residents who did not get a chance to air their ideas at community meetings the possibility of expressing their opinions.
The objections (which have to be received within a set period of time) are discussed by a 'public objections hearing committee'. This committee consists of representatives of the local authorities and of the community. The project staff is invited to comment on the objections, and the person who raised the objection is invited to give an explanation. The decisions of the public objections hearing committee are final.
A problem of soliciting comments from the community on the concept plans is that these plans look rather uninteresting for the individual resident, as they do not give an Indication of the consequences of the proposals for the house and the plot each family occupies. Questions such as Will my plot be affected? or Where will the nearest water tap be located?, are not answered by the concept plan. However, the decisions made about the concept plan determine to a large extent the scope for planning at the neighbourhood level, which does interest people.
(a) How should the project staff brief the community about the concept plan proposals?
(b) How and where should the project staff display the concept plan proposals?
(c) How can the project staff ensure that the community takes a real decision on the concept plan proposals?
(d) Who should be members of the public objections hearing committee for the concept plans?
(e) How should the project staff brief the community about the work of the public objections hearing committee?
(f) Which procedure should the public objections nearing committee follow?
PHASE 6: PROJECT FINANCING
Unlike the population in sites-and-services schemes and conventional low-cost housing projects, the population in squatter settlements is usually heterogeneous with respect to income. Very poor people in makeshift houses live next to middle-income families in dwellings constructed of durable materials. While, in sites-and-services schemes, the houses are intended for a target group defined by income, the target group of a squatter-settlement upgrading project is the entire population currently living in that settlement, independent of income.
Given the size of the housing problem of the urban poor and the number of people living in squatter settlements in cities of developing countries, squatter settlement upgrading projects usually have to be self-financing. This means that the beneficiaries - the residents of the squatter settlement to be upgraded - have to pay all or most of the costs of the project.
The costs of the project include the cost of the land, the development costs of infrastructure and services, and sometimes also the project's overhead costs (such as administration, surveying and staffing). In addition to the project costs, the beneficiaries are expected to pay the recurrent costs of the infrastructure and services provided; these include operating and maintenance costs and consumer charges.
Because of the self-financing character of most squatter-settlement upgrading projects, the total cost of the project must not exceed the paying capacity of the settlement's population, i.e. the money the population can raise from its daily, weekly or monthly income, and from other sources.
In the Low-Income Housing Programme of the Government of Sri Lanka, the paying capacity of the urban poor is established as follows:
Income profile urban households and housing affordability
Income (per month) in Rupees
Percentage of income estimated available for housing
Estimated monthly amount available in Rupees
0 - 700
35 - 70
701 - 1370
84 - 164
1371 - 2100
205 - 315
2101 - 3140
420 - 623
(Source: Ministry of Local Government, Housing and Construction, Urban Shelter Policy: Part I - Low-Income Housing, Sri Lanka, 1984)
In view of the heterogeneity of the population in squatter settlements, it is difficult to establish the paying capacity of the population. It is obvious that the poorest families can hardly pay any amount, while rich families can afford to pay substantial charges. If the charges exceed the paying capacity of the lowest-income groups, those groups will be unable to pay the cost of housing and will default on their payments. Eventually, the authorities will have to take action, for instance, by repossessing the plot. In this way, the project will disregard its objective - providing housing for low-income families.
The project authorities could establish as the paying capacity of the settlement's population the amount the poorest families in the settlement can afford to pay. This would mean, however, that less money is being raised from the population than is actually available and that the project can bring about very few improvements.
The only other way to make the project self-financing, to achieve substantial improvements and to retain the poorest sections of the population in the project is to make arrangements for a cross-subsidy within the project. This can be achieved in various ways:
(a) Assuming that there are some vacant plots in the settlement, the project authorities can auction these plots and sell them to the highest bidder. The best price can probably be obtained when plots are auctioned as commercial or industrial plots. The proceeds from the auction can be used to finance part of the project.
(b) The project authorities can charge high rates for rich families or for existing commercial and industrial plots. High charges for other than residential land can be easily administered, but it is difficult to charge different rates for the various income-groups. An indirect way is to charge high rates for large plots, assuming that rich families have large plots and that a poor family will sell part of its plot to raise money to pay the charges.
(c) Another way to achieve cross-subsidization is to charge part of the cost of the project to the general revenues of the local authorities. One can, for instance, assume that the roads to the settlement and even certain roads within the settlement will be used by people other than the settlement's population for destinations other than the settlement itself. So, part of the costs of the roads can be charged to the city as a whole.
(d) The project authorities can charge the costs of the project not to the individual families but to groups of families. The payments have to be raised by the neighbourhoods, and it is hoped that rich families will assist poor families to pay the charges. A problem is that poor families may become totally dependent on their rich neighbours for housing.
Whatever system is designed to charge the cost of the project to the settlement's population, the most important consideration must be that the entire population of the settlement, including the poorest sections, should be able to share in the benefits of the upgrading project. In order to be able to benefit from the project, the poorest families should be able to afford the increased cost of housing in the settlement.
(a) How can the project staff determine the paying capacity of the community?
(b) How can the project improve the paying capacity of the community?
(c) How can the project staff prevent the lowest-income group from being expelled from the settlement because of lack of paying capacity?
(d) How should the project staff brief the community about the charges it has to pay?
PHASE 7: DETAILED PLANNING
For detailed planning, the settlement is usually divided into neighbourhood planning units which represent, as far as possible, socially and/or ethnically homogeneous areas. This facilitates community organization and the participation of the neighbourhood population.
The community as planner
If the community expresses its willingness to be completely involved in the detailed planning, the project planner can hand over to the community the map of the neighbourhood, on which the elements of the approved concept plan have been indicated, and a list of items on which decisions have to be taken. The residents are asked to discuss these items amongst themselves and to reach an agreement as a community. When the community indicates to the project staff that an agreement has been reached, the local leaders of the neighbourhood call a meeting of project staff and community to discuss the proposal and to take a decision. After the meeting, the planners draw up the detailed plan in accordance with the decisions made at the community meeting.
Participation in decision-making
If the community shows less than full willingness to be involved in the detailed planning from the very start, for instance because of the absence of an adequate community organization, the planners can prepare one or more proposals for the upgrading of the neighbourhood and discuss these with the community at one or several community meetings. The large-scale detailed plan which covers only one neighbourhood is much easier to understand for the individual residents than the concept plan with its rather abstract components. The people can see where water taps may be located and whether their house or plot might be affected by the widening or straightening of a road. The community should also accompany the planner on a walk-through of the neighbourhood, during which the planner can explain his proposals and point out options, and the community can give suggestions and comments.
In Lusaka (Zambia), a Road Planning Group was formed by community representatives. The project staff invited the group to make proposals for the positioning of the roads, but the group felt it would be helpful if it had an idea of how much the roads would cost and preferred the project staff to put forward an initial proposal. This was done 'live' by walking along the proposed route, and some amendments were made immediately. Once the proposals were understood, the Road Planning Group had time in which to consult with the residents and come up with an agreement.
(Richard Martin, The formulation of a self-help project in Lusaka, Self-Help Housing: A Critique, Peter M. Ward, ed. London, 1982)
The Road Planning Group together with the project staff decided upon the routing of the roads in this upgrading scheme, Lusaka, Zambia.
It is important to note, however, that once concept plans have been approved by the project authorities and the community, the decisions to be taken in detailed planning have only limited importance. The decisions regarding the internal road network of the settlement as a whole determines which roads and streets have to be widened or straightened; the decision on the water-supply system determines the possible locations of the water taps. The detailed plan determines the exact location of water taps, drains, schools and clinics, and it fixes new road alignments. If funds allow, some secondary streets may be paved, and the community can decide which streets it considers important enough for paving.
An important element in the detailed plans is the mapping of plots in the neighbourhood. The location, dimensions and land use of each plot have to be determined, as well as the occupancy status. This is important to be able to determine who will receive a title to each plot. Aerial photography can facilitate mapping of the settlement considerably, but community involvement is essential in this part of detailed planning, as land disputes can easily arise if the mapping is not done accurately and in accordance with the ideas of the community.
After the plans have been discussed at a community meeting, the community and the project staff can take the final decisions. It is, however, advisable, to give residents the opportunity to raise objections to the detailed plans, as has been done for the concept plans. It may be easier for an individual resident to approach the project authorities directly with an objection or a complaint than to talk in a public meeting where he may have to face the opposition of the entire community. Objections can be reviewed by the same committee that discussed objections to the concept plan, and the same procedures can be followed.
(a) Can the community carry out detailed planning of the neighbourhood on its own?
(b) How should the project staff brief the community about the issues in detailed planning?
(c) How can the project staff involve the community in decision-making about detailed plans?
(d) Who should be members of the public objections hearing committee for detailed plans?
PHASE 8: IMPLEMENTATION
The implementation of a squatter-settlement upgrading project consists of two components:
(a) Regularization: the issue of the title deeds;
(b) Upgrading: the construction or improvement of infrastructure and the extension of services.
Before a title deed can be issued to a squatter in a regularized settlement, the following steps have to be taken: the squatter has to apply for the title; the application has to be verified; the location and dimensions of the plot have to be verified; and payment has to be made.
The main problem in issuing title deeds to squatters in a regularized settlement is the obscure tenure situation of most squatters. Project authorities have to decide whether the title is issued to the owner of the house on the plot or to the actual occupant of the plot (who may be a tenant). If title deeds are issued to the owner of the house, verification of the application is very important. Not only may the tenant apply for the title but more than one person may claim to own the house on the plot. Often, the best solution is to have the local leader from the community issue an affidavit stating that the applicant is the (only) owner of the house.
While issuing of title deeds needs verification and can be a complex process, the procedure for obtaining a title should be made as simple as possible; otherwise squatters will be discouraged from applying for a title. Therefore, applicants should not have to waste time at offices, as, for low-income families, hours or days without work are often hours or days without pay. In order to make it easy for the residents of a regularized squatter settlement to obtain titles, the project staff must ensure that the procedure is simple, that the various steps in the procedure are properly explained to the residents, that the applicant has to visit only one office, that the office is located in or near the settlement, that the office hours are convenient to the applicants, that the applicant is adequately informed when he is expected to undertake any action and that the time between the submission of the application and the issuing of the title deed is as brief as possible.
Land-tenure arrangements differ from country to country, and it is therefore not possible to state an exact procedure for the issuing of titles. In some projects, squatters receive a provisional title to the plot until they have paid all the charges; in other projects, people immediately receive a title to the plot, but the plot will be repossessed if the people default in payment. In some countries, the land is sold to the occupant; in others, the land is leased for a specific period (e.g. 10, 30 or 99 years).
The construction or improvement of infrastructure usually does not involve community participation, as, very often, the community does not possess the skills necessary to carry out this kind of work. Moreover, many residents do not have the time to participate in the construction of infrastructure, as they have to work to earn an income. Finally, it should be mentioned that the organization of labour for such work is rather difficult and requires constant supervision by the project staff. The staff has to able to count on the availability of sufficient numbers of motivated residents over an extended and specified period of time; otherwise, the cost of constructing infrastructure will increase.
Usually, the work is carried out by contractors which are hired by the project authorities, but if the community is willing, it may provide free labour. The experience of squatter-settlement upgrading projects is, however, that most residents are too busy to occupy themselves with this kind of work. The contractor could be required to hire unskilled labour from the settlement, so that the un employed in the settlement have a chance to find work.
The construction or extension of infrastructure usually requires the realignment of certain roads and the removal of structures in the new alignments. The demolition of these structures can best be done by the community or by the concerned residents, as an indication that they agree with the measures taken. This also makes the community responsible for the demolished; the community can allocate them a plot elsewhere in the settlement.
In some settlements, the shifting of structures is rather easy. In many African squatter settlements, the houses are made of wood or mud and it is not difficult for the occupants to move their houses some metres to make way for a new road; moreover, the plots in African squatter settlements are rather large, so that families can remain more or less on the same site. In other countries, the houses in squatter settlements are made of permanent building materials, such as stones or cement blocks. Realignment of roads in those settlements requires that houses be actually demolished and rebuilt elsewhere. In some projects, families are compensated for the loss of their houses; in others, the affected families are merely offered the opportunity to obtain a plot elsewhere in the settlement or in an overspill area.
(a) Who should receive the titles for the plots in the regularized settlement - house owners or house occupants?
(b) What should be the procedure for obtaining title to a plot in the regularized settlement?
(c) How can applications for plot titles be verified?
(d) If houses in the settlement have to be demolished for the upgrading project, how can the project staff ensure the co-operation of the community and affected families?
PHASE 9: PAYMENT OF CHARGES
Of all the participatory activities in squatter-settlement upgrading, the participation of the beneficiaries in the financing of the project is probably the most far-reaching one, since it commits low-income families for many years. Financial arrangements between residents and the project should be kept simple and flexible, so that they can easily be adapted to the wishes, needs and resources of the people concerned.
In a squatter-settlement upgrading project, the residents normally have to contribute to the cost of the land and infrastructure; sometimes overhead costs also have to be paid. Although the development costs of the project are kept to a minimum, the residents are normally not in a position to pay these costs immediately from their own resources. Therefore, the project provides loans to the residents.
The terms and conditions of these loans differ from project to project. The interest rate is related to but, usually, lower than the interest rate currently prevailing in the country. Besides a loan to pay the development costs of the project, sometimes loans for the improvement of the houses are also provided; these can be given in cash or in kind.
Normally, loans have to be paid back in monthly instalments over a period of 10 to 30 years. Although repayment of loans over such an extended period may seem the most suitable arrangement for low-income families, the duration and regularity of the payment can pose problems to poor families. Often, there is only one income-earning member in the household and he or she has an irregular job. Consequently, the income may vary from month to month. Events, such as weddings, sickness or death, even of a distant relative, can get the family into heavy debt. As a result, repayment of the loan is delayed or even abandoned, and eventually the authorities may feel obliged to take action against the defaulter.
Some low-income families prefer to repay their loan as soon as possible, so as to feel secure about the possession of their house and plot. The fact that a family is able to do so is not necessarily an indication that it does not belong to the low-income category. The desire to own some (urban) land may be so strong that the family is prepared to sell its share in (collectively owned) land or cattle in the rural areas in order to buy a plot in town. Sometimes, the extended family is willing to contribute, so that it can later claim a foothold in the city.
The recovery of the loan from the beneficiaries through monthly instalments is often the most difficult part in the execution of a project. Two issues should be distinguished with regard to cost recovery: the willingness of the residents to pay; and the method by which the payments are collected.
Residents are only willing to pay if they receive what they wanted; in other words, the project should meet some of the most urgent needs and priorities of the residents. It is, therefore, necessary that the residents be involved in the establishment of priorities for and the planning of the project. Another stimulus for the repayment of loans is the timely provision of infrastructure and services to the settlement. If there is no regular water supply to the area or if the garbage is not collected at set times, the residents will feel no obligation to pay back their loans (the repayment of loans is often combined with the payment of service charge).
Collection of repayments and charges can be done on an individual basis (each individual family pays directly to the municipal authorities) or on a collective basis (the municipal authorities collect the payments per neighbourhood). Collection on an individual basis requires considerable ability and effort on the part of the collector, and the cost of a debt collector often exceeds the amount of money he or she recovers. If the authorities transfer the responsibility of debt collection to the community, the social pressure to make the payments may be strong but it may also create tensions and conflict in the community. Given the uncertain income and employment situation of many low-income families, defaults in the repayment of loans can hardly be avoided. The authorities should therefore apply the rules in a rather flexible manner; otherwise, the lowest-income groups will suffer particularly.
In order to impose some discipline on the residents, the project staff can encourage the organization of savings groups among residents. In many countries, people are familiar with the idea of savings groups where members contribute small amounts per week or month, and, each time, a different participant cashes the total amount. Such a group exerts social pressure on its members to save small amounts and, this enables them to repay the loan at regular intervals.
The participation of residents in project financing or cost recovery remains, never the less, one of the unresolved problems of project execution. Despite social pressure, careful and repeated briefings, and ingenious debt-collection systems, default rates in squatter-settlement upgrading schemes remain high.
(a) What type of repayment schedule would be most suitable for the residents of the regularized settlement?
(b) How should the authorities collect payments?
(c) What should the authorities do if some or many families default in paying their charges?
(d) How can the project staff encourage residents to save money and make regular payments?
PHASE 10: HOUSE CONSTRUCTION AND IMPROVEMENT
The actual improvement of the houses in the regularized settlement is usually not a component of the project; the aim of the project is merely to create favourable conditions for the improvement of houses by the residents, through the regularization of land tenure and the provision of infrastructure and services. It is assumed that increased security of tenure as a result of regularization will be sufficient incentive for the residents to invest their savings in the improvement of their houses.
What the project can do is provide financial and technical assistance to residents of the settlement who want to improve their houses, so that the houses can be improved in a cheap and efficient manner. The project can provide house improvement loans or building-material loans. In sites-and-services schemes, building material loans are often given in kind instead of cash. In squatter settlements, where there are normally already many small suppliers of construction materials, it is better to provide loans in cash, so that the project does not compete with these small suppliers and eliminate them from the market.
The population of the settlement at large needs to be educated in public health requirements and the proper utilization and maintenance of infrastructure. The project staff can also give technical assistance to residents in construction techniques. However, contrary to what may be expected, very few residents of squatter settlements actually build their own houses; most people hire small contractors from within the settlement to build or improve the houses for them. If the occupants of the houses take part in the construction work, it is usually as unskilled labourers helping the contractor.
It is, therefore, useful to train small contractors in new and efficient building techniques and to provide loans for purchasing equipment. The training of small contractors in the construction of good and cheap latrines, for instance, could contribute considerably to an improvement of living conditions in the settlement.
While most houses in the settlement need only to be improved, some have to be rebuilt. This is the case in the overspill area outside the settlement and on plots within the settlement where families affected by the project are resettled. If families are resettled in the settlement itself or, even better, in the neighbourhood where they used to live, the community in the neighbourhood should, as much as possible, be left the task of helping those families, by allocating a vacant plot (if any), assisting in the construction of the house etc. This will make the community responsible not only for the improvement of the neighbourhood but also for the consequences of the improvement.
In the Kampurig Improvement Programme in Indonesia, the authorities do not pay any compensation for structures which have to be demolished for the realignment of a road. The camat (sub-district head) has the power, however, to find alternative sites and to collect money from neighbouring residents in cases where a house has to be removed entirely or in the case of real hardship.
(N. Devas, Indonesia's Kampung Improvement Programme: An Evaluative Case-Study, DAG Occasional Paper 10, University of Birmingham, 1980)
When many families are affected by the project and there are not enough vacant plots in the settlement, an overspill area adjacent to or very near the regularized settlement has to be developed. The overspill area is usually a small sites-and-services scheme: the project provides plots, infrastructure and services, and the allottees have to build the houses. The project staff gives technical and financial assistance to the allottees, so that they can complete their houses within a reasonable period of time at reasonable cost.
(a) How can the project staff assist residents in the improvement of their houses, in particular after the actual upgrading project has been terminated?
(b) How can the project improve the role of small contractors in improving houses in the settlement?
(c) How should the project staff assist families which are resettled in an overspill area?
(d) How should the project staff and the community assist families which have to rebuild their houses within the settlement?