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close this bookNational Experiences with Shelter Delivery for the Poorest Groups (HABITAT, 1994, 140 p.)
close this folderI. SHELTER AND THE POOR
View the documentA. Shelter delivery for the urban poor
View the documentB. Women, poverty and shelter
View the documentC. The GSS and the urban poor
View the documentD. Some terms and concepts

D. Some terms and concepts

1. Housing

There is no general agreement on the definition of the terms “slum” and “squatter settlement” (see box 13). In certain analyses it may be useful to distinguish between these two terms. The latter would then comprise shelters erected illegally and in contravention of building standards. The former denotes permanent buildings that have become substandard by neglect and subdivision. Since official statistics often include slums, defined in this way, as part of the housing stock, the real needs of people for shelter are underestimated. Yet, the term “slum” is normally used in a broad sense, encompassing squatter settlements. Hence, it is sensible to use the two terms interchangeably in more general discussions.

Box 13. The terms “slum” and “squatter settlement”

“Slum” is a catch-all word denoting inferior housing and surroundings. “Slum” is more an evaluative term than an analytical concept. Any definition of slum “must be viewed in light of sociocultural, political-economic, geographical, and psychological factors that make up the residential environment in question. What can be considered a slum settlement in one culture may be considered an adequate shelter in another culture.”

Mabogunje has defined a slum as “a collection of insubstantial housing constructed of recuperated waste materials of wood or corrugated iron sheets,... mud wall and thatch-roof or iron roof. There is... little in the way of road systems... [and if] a road system is discernible... [it is] usually unpaved and gutted by erosion. Many houses have no electricity or piped water and [most of them have] pot latrines. There is no sewerage or drainage systems.... There are also few schools... and no hospital or health facilities. Yet this is the most active area of the city with its petty traders”.

A squatter settlement is often regarded as temporary in nature. Such settlements are made by the residents themselves on unoccupied land typically either in the city centre or at the urban fringe. The shelters made are simple and not according to legal national standards. Improvements of the shelter and the environment may be undertaken depending on the level of income and degree of organization of the residents. A squatter settlement may develop away from being a slum, but normally this does not occur.

Slum and squatter residents often have the following three benefits from living in a slum: independence from legal and social controls allowing them low rents or shelter costs; closeness to places of employment opportunities; and possibility to retain and develop social networks, thereby improving their security of livelihood.

Source: Obudho and Mhlanga, 1988.

It is important to recognize that slums and squatter settlements are not a post-colonial phenomenon, but were a structural part of colonial reality. Colonial urban planning and management created a dualism, particularly in African cities. The “European town” was very different from the “African settlements” in an African city. In the African parts of the cities, control, regulation and public investment were very low. Yet, the size of the shanty-towns today is on quite another scale than during colonial times (see box 14).

Slums are characterized by lack of property titles and inadequate public services. They have a weak political base and few relations with the more powerful urban groups. A slum is a relative concept in time and space. The standard of homes, infrastructure and the environment of a settlement must be viewed against the prevailing norms of a society. This norm is changing through time. What is considered a slum today, may not have been seen by the inhabitants at an earlier date to be inferior to the typical living situation of the majority of that society. Yet, it is quite another matter to disqualify a settlement as a slum because the residents express a certain level of satisfaction with their situation. To base analyses and shelter programmes on a subjective definition, is not adequate because people may view their surroundings and shelter against earlier experiences of for instance pavement dwelling and rural starvation. It is essential to define and operationalize the term “slum” according to a national standard, and for researchers to apply an expert-based concept. UNCHS (1987) estimated that 40 to 50 per cent of the inhabitants in many cities in the developing countries in 1980 lived in inadequate houses and slums. This level of magnitude of the shelter problem probably holds true even today.

A squatter is a person occupying land over which he/she has no legal title. Obviously, a squatter's house may not necessarily be part of a slum. The house may even be of high quality. This is however the exception rather than the rule. Urban planners and city officials responsible for housing tend to have a deep hostility towards squatters and construction firms which use informal routes to shelter production. A change in attitude is a necessary prerequisite for enabling strategies. Squatters demonstrate by their activities that they possess skills, motivation and some resources to provide basic shelter for themselves. In favourable circumstances some of them are even able to construct solid houses as well as to improve basic infrastructure in their communities. They establish associations and mutual-aid groups and take part in political activities.

Box 14. Urban poverty and political conflict

“The squatter and the slum dweller are not necessarily 'radicals,' but this does not mean to say that they are incapable of becoming a radical force. A violent reaction to persistent poverty cannot be discounted simply because it has not yet occurred. The behaviour of the urban poor is not preordained, but has to be understood in terms of their perceptions of problems and opportunities. If, in this perception, there is little or no space for reasoned hope, the poor may no longer be prepared to accept the subordination and exploitation that form an inescapable part of their poverty. They will challenge the structures that perpetuate power and inequality, and because they are concentrated and most visible in the city, it is in the city that authority will be challenged.

The city in developing countries is strikingly full of the young, and it is among the young that dissatisfaction may be highest. Like their parents, they will share a profound desire to be treated as people rather than problems but, unlike their parents, they may not be ready to accept a future that promises little more than miserable rewards and, at best prolonged survival.”

Source: UNCHS, 1987.

In some cities it may be useful to distinguish between “pavement dwellers” and “street sleepers”. The former have the pavement as their “home”. They sleep, eat and live on the pavement. Normally, but not always they manage to have some plastics and rags to erect a shelter against rain, sun and passers-by. Street sleepers have access to a room for meals and some social life but due to the number of people sharing the room, they must sleep in the street. Sometimes they have a simple bed, but normally they use a mattress which they bring out in the evening. Street sleepers are mostly men.

Informal housing is characterized by being spontaneous, unplanned or unregulated. It includes both squatter settlements and often also self-help housing. The shelters constructed do not meet official building norms. The share of the current informal housing production in the developing countries is very high, ranging typically from 75 to 90 per cent. The number of dwellings made by the informal sector is several times higher than what is reported in official statistics (UNCHS, forthcoming). The lack of homogeneity in informal sector housing causes not only definitional problems, but also the need for a variety of responses from the authorities. Some areas may only need land regularization to assimilate them into the city, whereas other areas may be poorly built or badly sited and thus need major reconstruction and reorganization. Since the removal of people by force in most cases today is deemed to be an unwise and unsuccessful strategy, the only alternative to letting people stay on as they are, is substantial public assistance. This assistance can, however, be given in many different ways (see box 15). The GSS adopts a positive attitude towards the informal sector in housing, recommending support and encouragement, ensuring that the poor make the best use of their resources rather than having them inhibited by regulations and government interference.

As governments do not initiate informal-sector building activities, direct action is inappropriate. The role of local and national authorities is rather to remove planning and regulatory legislation and procedures which hinder the informal housing supply. Colombian minimum standards have for instance simplified shelter construction in squatter settlements (UNCHS, 1991d). It is admitted that this has been more profitable for the developers than for the poor. As a result. State agencies and investment banks are now encouraged to work out their own planning norms as alternatives.

Box 15. Major and minor works

Major works in the urban context, are, those which are based on wage labour and minor works those within which a labour or cash contribution from the beneficiaries is required. In order to avoid abuse of people by forcing them to work for no payment in tasks for which they normally are entitled to a wage, the following two conventions on human rights should be observed: No. 29 The Forced Labour Convention (1930) and No. 15 Abolition of Forced Labour (1956). Convention No. 15 seeks to prevent forced labour from being used for the purpose of economic development. The Convention had by 1992 been ratified by 111 Member Countries of the ILO.

Some countries have argued that self-help work is a means to pay taxes in labour instead of money, and that without such work the tasks would not be carried out, that the benefit of improved drainage, streets and the local environment accrues to the people themselves. The ILO has agreed that minor communal works should be exempted from the definition of Convention No. 15. Minor works are thus identified as local water drainage in flood-prone areas, small-scale paving of access streets and footpaths, on-site sanitation, community buildings and locally-based waste disposal. The construction of shelter by self-help and mutual-aid groups fits the definition of minor works if those who work on them also will be living in them or share the use or value of other types of buildings.

Source: UNCHS, forthcoming.

By “settlement conditions”, UNCHS (1987) implies all those components of the physical environment with which an individual or a community comes into contact and which are used on a regular basis for the whole range of human activities - the individual dwelling and its related services, the dwelling's immediate surroundings, community facilities, transport and communication networks, and so on.

2. Employment

Employed people are normally defined as those who during one day (date of a survey) have either worked, have a job but did not work or were self-employed. “Underemployment” stands for underutilization of labour. This concept is relative to the typical working norm of a society, and is thus culturally relative. There is, however, a danger in this, since people may want to work more than is typical in their society. A short working week or a very seasonally dependent work-year may be structurally based. This problem also applies to the concept “unemployment”. It is insufficient to limit the number of unemployed to those actively seeking work by registering with a public institution. This is especially a matter concerning women, and their rates of participation in and want of employment. “Hidden underemployment” stands for a situation when workers continue to be employed although there is insufficient work to keep them fully occupied. By “misemployment”, Gugler (1988) means that labour may work full-time but the work contributes little to social welfare. Begging is used as an example. He admits that many forms of what he calls misemployment contribute to social welfare. A case in point is garbage pickers and other groups recycling a vast array of materials in the major cities of the developing world. The point Gugler makes is that a large number of people are employed in a wasteful manner because their labour is so cheap. They could have been put to more worthwhile tasks. It is important to note that unemployed or underemployed people are not necessarily poor. Similarly, many of those having work today are among the poor. The low and declining real wages in many countries in the developing world place increasing numbers of employed people, even in the formal sector, among the poor.

3. Empowerment and alternative development

The argument that an improvement of the living conditions of the urban surplus labour only encourages more urban migration, cannot be accepted. Strict enforcement of controls of internal geographical mobility in a country is in itself undesirable, but moreover, it only worsens economic and social conditions in rural areas which then must absorb all of the natural population growth. Moreover, in many cities in developing countries, population growth is to a large extent an internal natural increase. Migration to Bombay, for instance, has declined markedly in recent years. Diseconomies of scale have become more pronounced in these cities. However, without an unlikely change in spatial investment patterns favouring the rural areas with non-farm employment opportunities at a totally different scale than today, urban migration will continue to be a major phenomenon.

Empowerment has been practised in the past, but then from the perspective of a means to an end rather than an end in itself. Empowerment is a basic component of “alternative development”. The essence of alternative development lies in the strategy of poor people's participation for their perceived needs and wants (see box 16). This is sought achieved more directly and immediately than in the conventional idea of “trickle-down” from long-term economic growth maximization. It is based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 25.1 (among others):

“Everyone has the right to a standard of living for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing, and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age, or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

One main assumption of alternative development is that economic growth on average in a society not necessarily improves the life of the poor. Evidence of mass poverty in the developing world does not support the view that in the present dominant economic and political systems, economic growth is sufficiently beneficial for low-income groups. Hunger, bad health, little or no education, extremely hard or no work and a life in constant fear are seen as a result of being excluded from the development which takes place. Moreover, the hardships the poor endure constitute barriers to self-development of people as individuals.

Box 16. Alternative development

Alternative development is based on an empowerment of poor people socially, psychologically and politically. Friedmann summarized the fundamental aspects as the following:

· It is not enough to be small and local. The enormous needs of the vast number of poor cannot be met by limited, participatory actions at the community level alone.

· The State has a major role to play. Local groups must work together with public authorities at various levels. Governments must become more responsive to the claims of disempowered people.

· External agents are needed as catalysts for change, i.e., to channel ideas and resources to the poor and to assist in the process of mobilizing people. The scope of spontaneous community action is typically too narrow.

· NGOs are now “scaling up” their operations. They then change their character, and operate more as intermediaries between people and State. This results in a requirement for the poor to establish their own political “voice.”

· A progressive State should not undertake direct action projects on its own, thus replacing NGOs and people's participation.

· The initiative of people and communities is essential. The State must play an enabling, facilitating and supportive role.

· A social learning process at the local level has the greatest prospects for successful alleviation of poverty in the long run.

· The autonomy of communities vis-a-vis NGOs and the State is essential for the poor to be able to exercise their rights.


Source: Friedmann, 1992.

The extreme inequality found in many places in the developing world where the 40 per cent of the poorest households may receive only 10 per cent of the total income, illustrates the poor's exclusion from economic, social, cultural and political participation. The notion of alternative development includes an immediate concern to rectify this situation by a strategy focusing on people and their environment rather than on production and profit. It is thus seen as a necessary condition for development to empower households and individuals, to give them access to resources, education and political power. This “development from below” or “grass-roots politics” requires strong State implementation of the right kind of policies which must include giving communities and people's organizations a larger “room to manoeuvre”. In short, there must be opportunities for collective self-empowerment at the local level. Since structural macro-conditions hold the poor down in poverty, confining them to a preoccupation with day-to-day survival, the state must act on their behalf. Only through dialogue and cooperation between local-level groups and public authorities can genuine development be achieved, according to the perspective of alternative development.

4. Sustainable development

The meaning of “sustainable development” is generally that alleviation of poverty and improvements in health, education and other social, cultural and political “rights” of the poor are to be achieved without negative consequence regarding the physical environment. “Sustainable” is here used only in the ecological sense (and not in a social or cultural one), and stands for a resource use and utilization at a local as well as global level - which can be maintained without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. To achieve simultaneously a range of development goals and of sustainable production and levels of resource use, may not be easy. Trade-offs must be made. Development will then in practice be more or less sustainable. The important research task is then to establish thresholds of irreversibility of natural processes manipulated by humanity, and to distinguish between more and less dangerous environmental changes. The hidden long-term effects of a variety of pollutants for instance make such assessments extremely difficult. Urban areas are the main centres of industrial production, and thus of pollution and waste problems. It is the poor who are most affected by this (see box 17).

Box 17. Sustainable development and the city

“... the market does not operate to include all social and environmental costs incurred in producing or consuming a product and therefore an efficient market requires some price adjustment. For example, local governments may decide to charge motorists according to how often they choose to drive in busy locations during peak periods. In other cases, governments may choose to subsidise certain kinds of behaviour in order to encourage people to act in an environment-friendly way.

At the level of city and municipal government, there are at least four key policy areas, to secure both development and sustainability:

· respond to citizen demands for a safe and healthy living and working environment which includes ensuring the availability of shelter and the provision of basic infrastructure and services; and ensure there is an effective legislative and regulatory system to protect citizens from exploitation by landlords and employers;

· penalize polluters (establish appropriate mechanisms and enforce them), give further incentives to encourage innovative ways to reduce pollution and conserve resources (especially reductions in air pollution and fuel consumption of road vehicles), and encourage recycling, re-use and reclamation of both non-renewable and renewable resources and waste materials;

· manage urban growth to promote minimal use of environmental capital while meeting social and economic goals - for example provide for city generated wastes (especially toxic wastes and point source water pollution) to be handled effectively; and

· identify and support the development of new economic activities which enhance both the urban centre's economic base and its environment.

...

“Professional resistance to innovative local solutions is also a major constraint. There is no lack of case studies from around the Third World showing how the most pressing environmental problems can be greatly reduced at a relatively modest cost - especially where local groups and institutions take a central role in developing solutions. Major improvements can be made to poorer groups' living environments at relatively modest per capita costs through six interventions:

· water piped into or near to the home of each inhabitant;

· systems installed to remove and dispose of human excreta;

· a higher priority to the installation and maintenance of drains and services to collect garbage;

· primary health care systems available to all (including a strong health prevention component which is so central in any primary health care system);

· house sites made available to poorer groups which are not on land prone to flooding, landslides, mudslides or any other site-related hazard; and

· the implementation of existing environmental legislation.

The cost constraints of applying these measures appear to be over-stated; work on alternatives to conventional water, sanitation and garbage collection systems have shown a range of cheap options while poorer groups' willingness and ability to pay for improved services - if these match their own priorities - appears to have been under-estimated. In many cities, it is not so much a lack of demand for water, sanitation, health care and garbage collection that is the problem, but a combination of an institutional incapacity to deliver cheap and effective services, and a reluctance of professionals to develop innovative local solutions.”

Source: Hardoy, and others, 1992.

5. Poverty

There is no agreement on the meaning and measurement of poverty. The debates on what constitutes poverty, how many (or few) poor people there are in a society and how little capital is required through redistribution to close the gap between the income of the poor and the non-poor have been going on for a very long time and have not come to any conclusion. At the low end of consumption, poverty is surely present among people who starve. Undernutrition, as one type of absolute poverty, may in some cases be the result even when the income or resources at household level are sufficient to cover dietary needs. In such cases where the man in the household uses the income primarily for his own purposes, Rowntree (1901; 1918) applied the term “secondary” poverty. “Primary” poverty then cover cases when the family income is not enough to secure an adequate food supply.

A modern variant of the primary poverty concept is the notion of “a state of indigence” at the household level. By this is meant that a household would even be unable to cover the nutritional needs of its members when their entire income was spent on food. Latin American data on this conception of food poverty are compared to the magnitude - of (basic needs) poverty in table 1. Another more comprehensive absolute poverty concept includes - in addition to a varied diet - also other basic needs, such as clothes and shelter. In many studies in the developing world a poverty line has been established at a level of income that covers expenses also for recreation and participation in social and cultural events. The argument for this relative definition of poverty is that policies should be targeted to that part of a society's population that is unable to participate fully in normal activities in that society.

Yet, it may be more useful for research and development strategies to limit the concept “poor” to those who have, materially speaking, a difficult life. The “very poor” (extreme or ultra poor) would then be those people with a deprivation so severe that the basic needs of life can scarcely be met at the minimum required for survival. Their life is characterized by malnutrition, disease and illiteracy as to be beneath any reasonable definition of human decency. Even such an (absolute) poverty concept will be relative in space and time; an objective definition of poverty is not possible to make, as values will always enter the conceptualization. Different societies have different typical levels of income and consumption and people lived under different circumstances in earlier historical periods. It makes little sense to categorize the San in Kalahari, or the Indians in Amazonas living in their traditional way, as poor. On the other hand, people without money to heat their flats in inner-city Hackney in London should be viewed as poor (either in a primary or secondary sense).

Table 1. Poverty and indigence (percentage of total population)


Indigence

Poverty

Country

Urban

Rural

Urban

Rural


1970

1986

1970

1986

1970

1986

1970

1986

Peru

8

16

39

39

28

45

68

64

Mexico

6

6

18

19

20

23

49

43

Argentina

1

3

1

6

5

12

19

17

All Latin America

10

11

34

30

26

30

62

53

Source: Feres and Le1990.

The above view of poverty is based on a professional decision of what constitutes poverty, whatever the level of consumption it refers to (e.g., a narrow or a broad basic needs type of definition). Poverty can also be identified according to a society's majority perception. By asking through surveys, what people regard to be necessary to have and to consume for not being poor, the proportion of the population not having access to these material goods will be those in poverty. A problem in this method of deciding on the meaning of poverty, is how to delineate the area or “society” to use as a reference group. How can one for instance avoid to define as poor, subcultures that freely decide to live with low material consumption?

Countries that establish a poverty line, normally calculate the cost of a “basket of food” and then increases the sum by a factor of 3 (United States of America) or 2 (most developing countries). In Europe the line is defined as one half of the median income in each country of the European Union. To measure the percentage of the population in a country that have an income below this line, is very difficult. Numerous questions arise on such issues as the inclusion or not of in-kind subsidies (e.g., school meals), how to price and assess consumption of food not bought, and not least the reliability of income data. Furthermore, it is necessary for any list of requirements of an operationalization of the concept “poverty” to include both quantity of requirements and their quality.

The use of a poverty line does not provide any information on how far below the line most poor people are, and thus the needed input or redistribution required to close the “poverty gap”, i.e., to bring them above the line. It is necessary to identify the distribution of the poor on the line from starvation to a broad basic-needs understanding of poverty for strategy purposes. It can also be important to delimit the people clustering around the poverty line. The term “borderline poverty” has been used regarding them. Furthermore, it is valuable to find out the degree of seasonality of poverty. Some groups of people are only poor part of the year, while others are chronically poor. Poverty may also affect a family only during certain stages of its life-cycle - when children are small and many and in old age or during illnesses. Even in a narrow basic-needs sense of poverty (food, clothing and shelter), the developing world may be said to experience mass poverty, i.e., covering a large part of the population in a country, say one third or more. In countries with mass poverty, political decisions of redistribution, reform and change will have little effect on the total problem of poverty in the short term. These countries can be said to be in “primary poverty”. This is not so in rich, developed countries which may - at an aggregate level - have only secondary poverty. There, the concept of “pockets of poverty” is more appropriate, although the pockets in some countries have now become extensive.

Comparative studies of poverty are fraught with difficulties, owing to the relative nature of the concept and problems in data comparability, among others. There is accordingly a good case for using several terms when analysing, debating and working on poverty. The scale of poverty can be divided into “starvation poverty” or food poverty, (narrow/broad), subsistence poverty, and relative deprivation of either a social coping or social participation type. When talking about poverty as limited access to social participation, it becomes easy to confuse the concept with inequality and with different life-styles in the same society. There are thus good reasons for not using the term “poverty” regarding this latter category. It is quite possible to have a high degree of inequality in a country without any poverty in the sense of a difficult material and social life. Hence, the conception of poverty should include a notion of some degree of absolute hardship. If the concept is completely relative to the normal conditions of life in a contemporary society (e.g., the mean national standard of living) and placed at the level of social participation, the inadequately fed, housed and clothed people in many developing countries cannot be termed poor. This is absurd, and leads to a double standard in the use of the same term for different places in the world. (The exceptions to this general view are certain tribal groups and sub-cultures in rich countries.)

It is common to believe that an undernourished person in cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America leads a different life from a starving person in London, New York or Paris. Yet are their conditions really so different materially and socially?

The World Bank (1990) established a poverty line for 1985 to permit cross-country comparisons and aggregation. Such a global poverty line is to some degree arbitrary. The line for what here is termed food poverty was set at $US 275 yearly income per person and at $US 370 for subsistence poverty. Purchasing power parities (or PPP) were used to find the income level in local currency, below which people were considered poor. It was admitted in the report that a consumption-based measuring method would yield more reliable data, but the time and funds needed for making sample surveys to identify the actual consumption of households and individuals prohibit the application of this method. The magnitude of poverty in the developing world in 1985 was that 630 million people (or 18 per cent of the population) lived in food poverty, while 1.1 billion (or 33 per cent) lived in poverty, i.e., food poverty plus subsistence poverty) (see table 2). The poverty gap, defined as the aggregate income shortfall of the poor as a percentage of aggregate consumption, was 1 and 3 per cent respectively for the two definitions of poverty. This means that only a very small proportion of the GNP in the developing countries would suffice to redistribute in order to bring the poor above the poverty line (see table 3).

UNICEF (1993) finds - on the basis of rather scant data - that the “least developed countries” (i.e., the poorest 34 countries) had 55 per cent of their population in poverty at the end of the 1980s. For all the developing countries the average figure is 27 per cent. UNDP (1993) estimates that the urban figure of poverty for the least developed countries is 62 per cent and for all developing countries it is 25 per cent. The urban incidence of poverty is 40 per cent in India and 20 per cent in Indonesia (no figure is available for Mexico from this source). The total number of poor people is estimated by UNDP to be 1.3 billion in 1991, of this figure 300 million live in the least developed countries. In estimates of poverty - which as mentioned are based on less than the most reliable data - it is useful to make a comparison with information on “under-5 mortality” rates. Data on deaths of children are easier to collect. There is, in fact, a high correlation between poverty data and under-5 mortality rates for groupings of countries (see table 4). This indicator of social development may thus be used as a proxy for changes in poverty over time and for current comparative purposes. Various surveys indicate that as many as 200 million children below five years of age were malnourished in 1991, and that 12.6 millions died in 1990 alone (UNDP, 1993).

Table 2. Poverty


Food poor

Poor

Region

Millions

Percentage

Millions

Percentage


1985

1989

1985

1989

1985

1989

1985

1989

South Asia

300

312

29

28

520

558

51

49

East Asia

120

71a

9

5a

280

165a

20

11a

Sub-Saharan Africa

120

153

30

35

180

228

47

52

Latin America

50

71

12

17

70

104

19

25

Middle East and North Africa

40

45

21

21

60

71

31

33

Total developing countriesb

630

652a

18

18a

1,110

1,126a

33

30a

a: Lipton and Maxwell use much lower magnitudes for East Asia than the World Bank for 1985, based on the argument that China and India have vastly reduced their incidence of poverty.

b: Eastern Europe is included among the developing countries by the World Bank; here that area is excluded.

Source: Based on The World Bank, 1990; Lipton and Maxwell, 1992.

Table 3. The poverty gap (percentage)


World Bank

Lipton and Maxwell

Region

Food poor

Poor

Food poor

Poor

1985

1985

1985

1989

1985

1989

Sub-Saharan Africa

4

11

8.5

9.5

16.1

17.2

South Asia

3

10

7.3

6.2

16.0

14.6

Latin America

1

1

5.9

5.7

8.1

9.3

Middle East and North Africa

1

2

5.0

5.5

9.0

9.6

East Asia

0.4

1

1.1

1.0

3.2

2.7

Total

1

3

4.5

4.3

9.3

9.1

Sources: World Bank (1990) and Lipton and Maxwell (1992).

Table 4. Under-5 mortality rates (1991)

Region

Deaths per thousand live births

Average annual rate of reduction 1980-1991
(percentage)


1960

1980

1991


Sub-Saharan Africa

261

203

180

1.2

South Asia

238

179

131

2.8

Middle East and North Africa

246

145

90

3.7

Latin America

161

89

57

4.0

East Asia

198

80

42

5.5

India

236

177

126

3.1

Indonesia

215

131

86

3.8

Mexico

138

81

37

7.1

Source: UNICEF, 1993.

In this report the following main terms will be used: food poor, poor, lower-income group and low-income groups (see figure 1). The “food poor” are those who cannot obtain an adequate diet. The “poor” comprise the “food poor” plus those who are in basic-needs poverty in a narrow sense. The lower-income group includes only those in basic-needs poverty in a broad sense excluding the poor. This group of people has a sufficient material consumption to allow them an active and fairly secure life concerning food, water, shelter and clothing. They do, however, have an income below what is typically necessary for complete social coping and participation in a society's normal events and activities. When referring to both the poor and the lower-income group, the term “low-income groups” will be applied. For the discussion in this report, it is not necessary to operationalize these concepts for quantitative analyses. They will be used as broad and descriptive concepts indicating levels of needs satisfaction of both a material and psychological kind.


Figure 1. Conceptualizing poverty

Other terms that will be used in a few arguments, are “destitute” and “working poor”. By “destitute” is meant people in utter destitution who only in very favourable circumstances will be able to achieve an improved life. They are often handicapped in some way, or are either very young or old. UNCHS (1987) maintains that the “enabling shelter strategy” has little to offer those who live in destitution, and that this group has to be assisted directly through programmes shaped by other principles than affordability and cost recovery (i.e., by some kind of social benefit). Yet, the potential impact of shelter provision for low-income people may in many cases be indirectly beneficial to the destitutes through traditional communal care systems. It is difficult to define the notion of “working poor” precisely, but it refers to those among the poor who have the ability to respond positively to, for instance, a shelter project. The term does not necessarily mean that individuals are employed, but rather that they are employable (see also UNCHS, forthcoming). Within an enabling environment the working poor will be able to make a living, house themselves and obtain some services for which they can pay. The “working poor” includes different groups, for instance people who work long hours for very low pay or who are engaged in low remunerative business. They have recently been joined by workers in the lower grades of government and private-sector employment. A large category of the working poor with particular problems are women who are heads of households. They have typically low levels of education and lack marketable skills and easy access to credit.