|Environmental Handbook Volume I: Introduction, Cross-sectoral Planning, Infrastructure (GTZ, 1995, 591 p.)|
|8. Provision and rehabilitation of housing|
The object of providing housing is to satisfy the basic need for shelter. What shelter means and how the basic need for it is actually met will very much depend on local conditions and traditions and on how advanced the society is. Broadly speaking, what is meant by the provision of housing, in the narrow sense, is creating, maintaining and rehabilitating living accommodation and making available the items required for this purpose, namely building land, infrastructure (e.g. roads and railway lines etc., mass transport facilities, telecommunications, drinking water, facilities for disposing of waste and wastewater, and energy), building materials, construction technology, and finance. However, the provision of housing is not confined solely to making the actual accommodation available but also includes measures to create an environmentally acceptable residential habitat and the setting up of the other social, cultural and welfare facilities required (schools, health-care facilities, places of public assembly, shops, etc.)
In a wider sense, anything done to enable the inhabitants to play a fuller part in the social and economic life of the society helps to improve housing conditions. In particular, this includes steps taken to support self-help organisations, to establish secure rights where previous ownership is uncertain, to introduce amended rules and regulations and to promote employment and create sources of income.
Under existing economic and demographic conditions and in the light of current development trends, providing reasonable housing for urban populations is becoming a major problem. Today, a large number of families already live in unacceptable housing conditions. Though there may be local differences, the common factors which can be identified are these:
- inadequate protection against the elements (e.g. rain, storms, solar radiation, cold), against hazards from the environment (e.g. noise, fire, pathogens, air pollution), and against expulsion,
- a residential habitat generating severe environmental stresses,
- overcrowding, leading to stressful situations, aggression and accidents and encouraging the spread of sickness and disease,
- building stock which is low-grade or presents health risks (dilapidated old buildings and slums, squatter settlements and dwellings constructed from scrap material or flimsy wood) and,
- a non-existent or inadequate technical and social infrastructure (e.g. an inadequate supply of drinking water, uncontrolled disposal of waste and wastewater, inadequate provision for schooling and medical care).
Programmes for providing housing are based on data on population growth, income distribution, size of households, distribution of population, etc. Inaccurate figures for population growth, for the size and state of the housing stock and for building by the private sector make it difficult to determine what need there is for housing to be built or rehabilitated.
In many countries, the growth of towns has not been evenly spread geographically. Internal growth and an increasing influx of migrants has meant a sudden spiralling in the demand for housing in conurbations. Where housebuilding policy has concentrated on meeting the demand by building new housing it has proved particularly bad at meeting the growing demand for low-cost housing. The ever larger supply-side shortfall in the field of low-cost housing has therefore caused existing towns to become overpopulated and slums to be created, particularly in long-established areas of old houses. At the same time there has been an extensive wave of illegal occupation of land combined with the erection of shanty housing.
Today, the main aims in providing housing are not only to create fresh accommodation within the framework of regional and urban development but also to deal with seriously bad housing conditions by upgrading the housing stock. In rehabilitating housing, another of the goals being pursued is to slow down changes in the social mix, which in the areas concerned normally tend to be in one direction only, and in this way to achieve a better social balance.