Cover Image
close this bookNational Experiences with Shelter Delivery for the Poorest Groups (HABITAT, 1994, 140 p.)
View the documentA. Leaving the poor out
View the documentB. An integrated urban shelter strategy for the poor
View the documentC. Summary of recommendations
View the documentD. Directions for future research

C. Summary of recommendations

Some of the key issues highlighted in this report of how to address the shelter problem of the poor within the context of the enabling shelter strategy are summarized below.

1. The funds made available to the housing sector, must in future, be at a completely different level than at present. International donor agencies and the United Nations system must make shelter for the poor a priority issue. At the national level, democratization and economic growth are required, in combination, as a basis on which to develop sound shelter strategies applicable to different local contexts. Information must be diffused in such a way that planners and politicians understand and accept that housing and shelter provision in favour of the poor are really beneficial for overall economic growth. Investments in the housing sector generally must be seen as productive investments with a very limited import leakage. It should furthermore be realized that increased allocation of funds to housebuilding for the lower-income and middle-income groups, is not only creating employment, local multiplier effects and backward linkages, it also eases the downward pressure on housing. This will improve the access of the not-so-poor among the poor to adequate housing.

2. Investments in rural development is no solution to urban shelter problems, neither today nor tomorrow. Although urban migration will continue under the most favourable circumstances for rural areas, and thus add to the number of people in urban areas, the natural population growth in the urban slums and in the rest of the large cities is very high in absolute figures and will continue to be so in future. It is thus essential that governments implement fully the policies of the GSS, which many governments have already adopted in principle. Reforms are necessary regarding rules and regulation to make it easier for the poor to make their own shelter with traditional materials and techniques. Although the majority of the poor must house themselves, participatory programmes and projects should gradually be expanded to reach all the working poor without adequate shelter.

3. The model for such programmes should typically include cooperation between national and local authorities, NGOs and CBOs. It is important that public agencies see their role to be one of initiating this cooperation and of combining the positive forces for shelter delivery for the poor. Furthermore, it is essential to involve the people through their CBOs (or assist them in forming CBOs) from the very beginning of a programme. The communities should also be part of the planning process and not only participate in implementing decisions already taken.

4. Experience has shown that affordable shelter for the poor, is close to impossible. Credit programmes through special banks with NGO financial support have proved to be successful in some cases. The lessons learned through the growth of, for instance, the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh must be made widely available in other developing countries.

5. Acceptance for and opportunities of group collateral and collective credit should be expanded. Likewise, local communities should be able to retain control over plots when a household decides to sell its plot. This will contribute to an avoidance of rapid reselling of land in resettlement programmes. Solutions must moreover be found to ease the access of women to plot rights.

6. Cross-subsidization must be more widely applied in shelter programmes. By mixing various groups in housing programme areas and charging differential rates according to dwelling standard, the poor may receive cheaper shelter and better physical and social infrastructure.

7. The supply of adequate and cheap building materials must be improved, through reform of regulations and organizational assistance.

8. Small-scale projects are normally more successful than large-scale ones. The former may not necessarily have a limited impact on the overall need. Restrictions should be removed to allow many small projects to be established rapidly but based on a general model modified by the particular circumstances of individual countries.

9. The important work of training CBO leaders as part of ongoing shelter programmes and projects must continue and be expanded. Training in various Melds should become an integral part of all shelter, upgrading and resettlement programmes everywhere. The importance of training in situ of the beneficiaries and participants of mobilized self-help projects must not be underestimated. Training is an essential element of empowerment.

10. While planning new settlements, it is of utmost significance to select locations and/or provide for easy access through public transport systems that enable the poor to reach places of work and employment opportunities. Experiences abound of the drift back to the inner city by poor people who have been resettled far and relatively isolated at the outskirts of cities without a simultaneous planned and implemented transport system. Since available land for shelter purposes is extremely limited in most large cities, high-rise flat accommodation is often seen as the solution. For the poor this is neither affordable nor favoured. Land at the urban fringe is then the only alternative.

11. In analyses, debates and planning on shelter delivery for the poor, the poor group should be split and categorized according to levels of poverty. The destitutes must primarily be supported through various kinds of social benefits and charity, while the working poor should be the target group for “aided participatory shelter programmes.” Furthermore, the latter category must be split into the “food poor” and the “subsistence poor” (in a narrow basic-needs sense). Pavement dwellers may be found in both these categories. The subsistence poor can be relied upon to be able to save a little, to give priority to shelter improvement and to pay part of the cost of community upgrading (e.g., pay a betterment tax). Moreover, the subsistence poor are more easy to mobilize for self-help shelter projects. The food poor must have a higher level of subsidy, assistance in building techniques and in obtaining permissions to improve their shelter conditions.