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close this bookAssessment of Experience with the Project Approach to Shelter Delivery for the Poor (HABITAT, 1991, 52 p.)
close this folderVI. Achieving a multiplier effect through shelter projects
View the document6.1 Impact on institutional capabilities and public-sector roles in the shelter-delivery process
View the document6.2 Impact on urbanization, urban growth, spatial planning and infrastructure provision
View the document6.3 Addressing constraints in land and housing markets
View the document6.4 Impact on building and planning codes, regulations and standards
View the document6.5 Development of the construction industry and construction techniques

6.2 Impact on urbanization, urban growth, spatial planning and infrastructure provision

In theory, housing projects, particularly the large-scale projects, are supposed to have significant impacts on spatial planning and on directing urban growth. Yet, the evidence from several countries indicates that projects in general are less effective in this respect. There are several reasons for this, among which the scale of the projects has particular importance. The rather small scale of a typical housing project is usually not sufficient to initiate growth in the desired directions. A second factor is that projects are usually implemented in a financially feasible area, rather than in a location that meets the needs of the target groups. Consequently, most housing projects have remained as isolated cases for long periods of time, before eventually being integrated with the urban expansion. A third important factor is the delay in provision of services and infrastructure. These components are often the last to be provided, and this fact often limits the possible multiplier role of housing projects. Yet, there are some good examples where housing projects have had substantial effects on urban growth.

The fact that shelter projects can have significant impacts on urbanization and rates of urban growth is clearly demonstrated by the case of Colombia. It is true that shelter projects made only isolated contributions to total housing supply, with little or no relationship to the urban development process, urban structuring, or infrastructure planning (Utria, 1990:106). Yet, the publicity that attends the launching of shelter projects creates expectations in the rural, as well as the urban population, which further stimulates urbanization.

In Turkey, projects have been too small to achieve any impact upon processes of urbanization or urban growth (Tokman, 1990: 39). Projects may even have negative impacts on efforts to direct urban growth. Long implementation periods of some housing projects in Turkey have sometimes hindered the development of nearby areas. The large-scale Sincan Sites-and-Services Project in the western development corridor of the Ankara Metropolitan Area is a good example in this respect. When large areas of public land were allocated for this scheme, speculators purchased large tracts of land nearby, on the expectation that land values would increase rapidly when the Municipality provided infrastructure and services. The project, however, took a very long time to get moving, no infrastructure or services were provided for many years. It thus became a dead-lock, not only for prospective beneficiaries of the project but also for land speculators and others who could have benefited from the possibilities of the reasonable land prices at these locations. After about 20 years, however, the western development corridor became the significant expansion of the Ankara Metropolitan Region as was originally planned.

With this negative experience in mind, the examples where housing projects have had positive impacts on directing urban growth are more abundant. The Baishnavghata-Patuli project in India demonstrates that projects can exert a very powerful indirect influence on the direction, rate and costs of urban development. Yet, this strategic impact is rarely even appreciated, let alone harnessed, by project or policy planners. As a result, the benefits of project investments accrue mostly to private-sector developers, who have a more keenly developed sense of how land and housing markets operate and how to manipulate them to their advantage. The site for the Klender project in Indonesia, however, was selected to stimulate further growth to the east of Jakarta, according to strategic planning objectives. By developing large areas of land in relatively less expensive locations, it was also easier to achieve affordability objectives, though this made it more difficult to reach the target population of low-income groups.

Another example of the extent to which even individual projects can influence the direction and form of urban development and planning can be seen in the case of the Rohini project in New Delhi. This was intended to provide housing for up to 300,000 people of all income groups, with a full range of commercial and industrial activities and public facilities. Projects of this scale can support local project agencies, or teams, working in multi-disciplinary groups to develop major contributions to housing supply and the planned development of urban areas. This contribution can be further increased if shelter projects include the provision of commercial and industrial areas that can contribute towards the development of multi-nucleated urban areas and diversification in the location of employment centres.

Besides influencing patterns of urbanization and urban growth, projects are influenced by them. A common constraint, for example, is the difficulty of obtaining land in suitable locations at prices that project agencies can afford to acquire and develop for low-income households. In many cases, the only land that meets these criteria are in areas that are unstable, liable to flooding, or otherwise difficult and expensive to develop. On this basis, land that is inexpensive to acquire may be almost prohibitive to develop and build upon. A large part of these additional costs is borne directly by the low-income residents.

Another common constraint to shelter projects located on the periphery of a rapidly expanding city is that residents are isolated from public services and places of employment. In rapidly expanding cities, however, they are likely to find themselves integrated into the administrative and physical structure of the city more rapidly than those in a city that grows slowly. Their ability to endure such locations may therefore be enhanced considerably, especially if planning policies encourage the decentralization of industrial and commercial activities that can provide low-income groups with employment opportunities.

At a technical planning level, the Kwekwe-Gutu project in Zimbabwe incorporated several innovations in spatial planning that enabled the project to meet local needs and reduce unit costs. These included “cul-de-sacs”, “p” loops, “back-to-back stands” and communal tower lights (Mutizwa-Mangiza, 1990: 42). Similarly, the Ismailia Demonstration Projects were designed to achieve the maximum proportion of available land within the private, or revenue-generating domain, in order to reduce unit costs. This was done in a way intended to reflect the traditional layout patterns found in settlements planned by local residents and the patterns of space use to which they were accustomed (Davidson and Payne, 1983). Such concerns have been amply surveyed and analysed by observers such as Rapaport4 and need to be borne in mind by planners and architects whose living styles and values are at variance with those of their eventual clients, the poor.

4/ See for instance Rapaport 1977, 1979 or 1980.