Cover Image
close this bookCo-operative Housing: Experiences of Mutual Self-help (Habitat)
close this folderIntroduction
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentA. The case studies
View the documentB. Why co-operatives?
View the documentC. Types of co-operative organization


The Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1988, lays considerable emphasis on "enabling" strategies to meet shelter needs. The Strategy recognizes that governments are unable to provide shelter for the majority of their populations but that they play an important role in providing a framework which enables the private and community sectors to provide housing.

The Strategy states that

"...implementation of a shelter strategy will involve the redefinition and redistribution of responsibilities to a variety of actors, ranging from individual households through cooperative groups and informal and formal private producers to governmental agencies and ministries."

This publication focuses on "co-operative groups" and the role that they play in the shelter sector. It presents tour experiences of co-operative groups: two in Africa and one each in Asia and Latin America. The case studies demonstrate the advantages and problems of different approaches to co-operative housing. The four experiences encompass a wide range of self-help solutions to housing and describe a number of institutional forms, management approaches and financial arrangements.

While each country has its own particular context which influences the nature of cooperative housing, there are features of co-operative housing organizations that are common to many countries. In this overview section the experiences from the four case studies are drawn together to identify key issues which influence the development of co-operative housing.

This volume is intended for organizers of potential co-operatives as well as for those who are able to provide support to co-operatives, whether it be legal, financial or technical or in other ways. It is also meant for governments which are considering policies and strategies which will meet housing needs in times of severe financial constraint and for those in government who implement such policies and strategies.

As co-operative housing programmes and projects are initiated, they will require specially developed or adapted manuals, and training materials. There is no substitute for materials which are specific to each country and even to particular cities or regions. These are best developed using a participatory method, perhaps with the help of a facilitator experienced in training methods and materials. This handbook is not a substitute for the development of specific national materials. It is a means to learn from experience and raise issues for discussion.

At the international level there are a number of publications which deal with housing cooperatives in developing countries and which are identified in the bibliography in this volume. They include manuals and handbooks which provide experience of and, in some cases, detailed prescriptions for undertaking co-operative housing projects and programmes. In addition to the references included here, a more extensive annotated bibliography on cooperative housing is being published as a companion to this volume.

This handbook has been prepared by the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (Habitat) with the assistance of Graham Alder.