Current Urban Studies
2013. Vol.1, No.4, 185-192
Published Online December 2013 in SciRes (
Open Access 185
Evolution of Slum Redevelopment Policy
Deepika Andavarapu, D avid J. Edelman
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, USA
Received October 31st, 2013; revised November 30th, 2013; accepted December 7th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Deepika Andavarapu, David J. Edelman. This is an open access article distributed under the
Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any
medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Slums have been part of the urban landscape since the Victorian Era, and, over the years, policies such as
public housing, slum upgrading, tenure security, city wide slum removal and other measures were adopted
to improve the quality of life of the slum dwellers. In this paper, the evolution of those policies is ex-
plored and evaluated, and key policy strategies that need to be adopted at the donor and recipient levels in
order to achieve measurable change in slum improvement across the world are suggested.
Keywords: Slums; Redevelopment; Tenure Security; Public Housing; Baan Makong; Rajiv Awas Yojana
Slums are an integral part of the urban landscap e, as they have
historically been the only affordable housing solution available
to the urban poor. Over the years the unders tand in g of slums has
evolved from considering them a nuisance to today’s general
consensus that slums are unique eco systems, which have
changed over the years to adapt to the needs of their residents.
Slum redevelopment policies have also evolved with this
changing understanding, and in this paper, the authors identify
four phases of slum redevelopment policy, which are discussed
in detail (Figure 1).
In the first phase, theories such as the culture of poverty and
margin ality portr ayed slums as probl ematic dens of violen ce and
prostitution; the only solution w as to demolish th em and relo cate
the residents to public housing projects. American researchers,
such as Gans and Jacobs, as well as Latin American academics,
such as Castells, and American researchers of Latin America,
such as Perlman, conducted extensive studie s in these slums, and
their research shed new light on them. These researchers and
others were successful in changing the perspective of the policy
John Turner’s research in Peru emphasized the concept of
self-help and tenure security, and his efforts showed that, when
the slum residents were provided with tenure security, they im-
proved their dwellings one brick at a time. Thus, the second
phase of slum redevelopment policies was based on Turner’s
ideas of self-help and tenure security.
The third ph ase of s lum red eve lo pme nt evo lved from the self-
help concept to the incorporation of non-governmental organi-
zations. NGOs became global players in this era, and slum re-
development policies called for public input and the involvement
of NGOs.
The fourth phase started with the “cities without slums” in-
itiatively launched by Cities Alliance, a group comprising sev-
eral supra national ag encies inclu ding UN Habitat and th e World
Bank. In this phase, countries such as India and Thailand
launched countrywide programs t o create slum free cities.
There are two sections to this paper; the first takes a closer
look at each of these four phases, discusses their theoretical
underpinnings, provides relevant case studies and concludes
with lessons learned from each phase. The second section dis-
cusses the future direction of slum redevelopment policies, both
at the donor level and the recipient level, and suggests key
Phase 1: Public Housing (1950-1972)
The favored approach during this era of slum upgrading was
demolition of slums and replacement with tenement style public
housing at the outskirts of the city. This mode of development
disrupts the existing social, economic, and political ties of
neighborhoods. As research by Perlman (1976), Weinstein
(2009), Roy (2004) and Arefi (2008) has shown, these social
and economic ties are critical for the survival of the urban poor.
While the policies of this phase were used across the world,
the intellectual centers of these policies were Europe and Amer-
ica. At the end of this phase, these countries claimed to have
eradicated slums just as they have eradicated polio (Weinstein,
2009). The fact is urban poverty still exists there, but the mani-
festations of it are called by other names such as urban blight or
ghetto. Researchers framed urban poverty in developed coun-
tries as advanced marginality (Wacquant, 2008).
Slums have been a critical part of urbanization, and the ear-
liest references to slums can be traced back to Victorian Eng-
land. Sociologists such as Engels studied the squalid living
conditions of industrial workers in England quite early. His
book, The Conditions of the Working Class in England in 1844
was influential in bringing the living conditions of the poor into
the limelight. He looked at slums as a consequence of industri-
alization. In 1890, Jacob Riis published How the Other Half
Lives: Studies among the Tenements of New York attesting to the
same conditions across the Atlantic.
Source: Created by the authors.
Figure 1.
Phases of Slum Redevelopment Policy.
The theoretical framework for this phase was informed by
the culture of poverty theory of Oscar Lewis (1959), and mar-
ginality theory. These theories blamed the victims for their
problems and portrayed squatter settlements as a social problem.
Marginality was considered a material force, as well as an ideo-
logical concept and description of social reality (Perlman, 1976)
(Arefi 2008), and rational planning theory depicted slum dwell-
ers as degenerate (Weinstein, 2009).
These theories reflected popular misconceptions, stereotypes,
and assumed weaknesses associated with poor communities.
Migrants from the countryside to the city were seen as mal-
adapted to modern city life and, therefore, responsible for their
own poverty and failure to be absorbed into the formal em-
ployment and housing markets. They portrayed squatters as
“other”, i.e., not part of the urban community. These settlements
were seen as dens of crime, violence, prostitution and social
breakdown. Conventional wisdom suggested that the only solu-
tion to these social problems was relocating the squatters to
decent housing. The common sense view of the population at
large, legitimized by social scientists, was used to justify public
policies of slum removal (Perlman, 1976; Arefi, 2008).
Slums were not considered part of the “Rational Scientific
City” discourse prevalent in the urban planning circles of the
time. There was little room for the poor in the modern, rational
city. Policy measures aimed at the urban poor in the planning
discourse ranged from segregation at one end of the spectrum,
to outright slum removal on the other end. One of the first ex-
amples of slum removal policy and a grand example of the
modern rational city was Haussmann’s design of Paris. Rabe
calls this “Haussmannisation”. His design left little room for
the poor; the opening up of Paris for thoroughfares and gov-
ernment buildings caused the poor to flee the city as Hauss-
mann’s avenues grandes replaced many “wretched quarters”,
but no provisions were made for the lower-income classes dis-
placed by the building process (Rabe, 2009).
Slum removal, however, did not remain solely a French pol-
icy. The tenement laws of New York, along with the 1949 and
1954 Housing Acts, resulted in slum clearance as part of a mas-
sive urban renewal program, where the, outmoded, worn-out
and blighted areas were replaced with well-planned develop-
ment geared to modern needs (Weinstein, 2009).
Pugh (1995) argues that during this era the dominant public
policy in low-income housing was that the state was seen as the
provider of permanent public housing, usually in the form of
apartments. It was intended that public housing replace squatter
settlements. Moreover, public housing was transplanted from
developed countries without giving much thought to the dif-
fering contexts of developing countries (Pugh, 1995). The
underlying assumption was that public housing would be
affordable and effective, and that it would eventually eliminate
the unsanitary conditions and professionally perceived disorder
of squatter settlements.
Case Study: Brazil’s Favela Removal: The
Eradication of a Life Style
Janice Perlman’s research on favelas in Rio de Janeiro is one
of the seminal studies on the subject. As part of her work, she
looked at the effects of large-scale slum removal policies. In
1970, a favela in Rio Catacumba was demolished, and the resi-
dents were moved to high-rise apartments on the outskirts of
the city. She studied the economic, social and cultural, political
and physical impacts of the relocation, and her findings are
presented below:
Economic Repercussions
Perlman reports that there was significant loss of income due
to the time and expense of travel to work and changed avail-
ability of jobs (especially jobs for women). At the same time,
there were the additional expenses of owning a home, including
mortgage payments, as well as water, electric and other service
payments. Overall, the move resulted in a net loss of household
Social and Cultural Repercussions
The favelados were relocated based on their income levels
rather than on social and familial ties. Therefore, the social
support structure of the favela did not survive the relocation.
The move also isolated the residents from urban amenities such
as movies, beaches, markets, spectator sports, etc. These ameni-
ties were part of the urban experience that made the residents
feel like a part of the city. Perlman argues that suspicion and
distrust were on the rise in some of the new developments as
well as crime rates.
Political Repercussions
The favelados were politically active and united in their
cause to fight the relocation. After the move, the residents and
their leaders were scattered across the region, resulting in a
disruption of the political structure. Perlman reports that after
their experience of removal, the residents no longer saw the
system as benign and lost their political will.
Physical Repercussions
The physical effects of the move were noticeably positive,
especially for children, who now had access to water and sani-
tation. However, due to the poor quality of construction, there
were constant leaks, and cracks on the walls appeared just a few
Open Access
years after construction. The poor construction made the resi-
dents wary of paying long-term mortgages on their units.
Phase 2: Self-Help (1972-1988)
There were two policy streams in this phase; the first was
tenure security, and the second physical upgrading. Tenure se-
curity has been considered as the holy grail of slum upgrading
policies. Recent research has shown, moreover, that giving
tenure to the female head of household addresses female pov-
erty and empowers the actual care-giver of the family (Datta
2012). The approach has been adopted by various countries and
has been acclaimed for its suc cess.
However, there has been some criticism of tenure legaliza-
tion. First, the approach has been questioned since it has been
most widely used by the middle class and has resulted in gen-
trification. In addition, formalizing informal land has been dis-
astrous for renters as it has substantially increased their costs of
living. Second, the emphasis on physical or infrastructure im-
provements without addressing social and political issues has
been criticized as superficial or the “aestheticization” of pov-
erty (Roy, 2009). That is, infrastructure improvements have
often failed due to poor maintenance or inferior construction
quality. Third, as Mukhija argues, the layout, density or the
nature of the land sometimes does not allow for slum upgrading.
Clearly, in those cases, alternative policies need to be adopted.
The second stream of housing redevelopment policy was
based on John Turner’s ideas of “self-help” (Turner, 1977).
Turner was the most influential critic of the vast array of schol-
ars, who claimed that the state had failed by providing me-
dium-rise apartment blocks that were unsuitable for low-in-
come groups. Research by Turner, Perlman and Castells show-
ed that housing conditions within squatter settlements improve
over time due to the efforts of the residents. Thus, they argued
for self-help programs or slum upgrading schemes; the catch
phrase of this era was, “helping the poor help themselves”
(Pugh, 1995; Davis, 2006).
Davis argues that Turner, in collaboration with sociologist
William Mangin, was a singularly effective propagandist who
proclaimed that slums were less the problem than the solution.
Despite this then radical idea, Turner’s core program of self-
help, incremental construction, and legalization of spontaneous
urbanization was exactly the kind of pragmatic, cost-effective
approach to the urban crisis that Robert McNamara , a t t hat time
the President of the World Bank, favored (Davis, 2006).
The self-help, or slum upgrading, approach was a low-cost
and affordable housing alternative that was advocated as a
means of fulfilling loan repayments in low-income housing.
Pugh summarizes this approach of the Bank to low-income
housing as “affordable-cost recovery-replicability”. The inten-
tion was to make housing affordable to low-income households
without the payment of subsidies. This was in contrast to the
heavily subsidized public housing approach (Pugh, 1995; Davis,
2006; Mukhija, 2003).
One of the most popular programs in this phase was the
World Bank’s Slum Upgrading Program (SUP). There were two
elements comprising program: 1) tenure security and 2) im-
proving access to infrastructure through the construction of
toilet blocks or providing access to drinking water. Lending for
urban development by the World Bank increased from a mere
10 million dollars in 1972 to more than 2 billion dollars in 1988,
and, between 1972 and 1990, the Bank helped finance a total of
116 sites-and-services and/or slum-upgrading schemes in 55
nations. Davis argues that this was a mere drop in the bucket in
terms of the need, but it gave the Bank tremendous leverage
over national urban policies, as well as direct patronage rela-
tionships to local slum communities and NGOs (Davis, 2006).
Case Study: Indonesia’s Kampung Improvement
Indonesia’s nationally implemented Kampung Improvement
Program (KIP) is one of the best examples of the successful
implementation of a slum upgrading policy, and it was in-
strumental in significantly reducing urban poverty and im-
proving the quality of life of Indonesia’s urban poor (Das,
KIP began in Jakarta in 1969, under Indonesia’s First Five
Year Development Plan, with World Bank funds, as well as
joint funding by the Government of Indonesia and the city
government of Jakarta. From 1974 to 1988, KIP was a pri-
mary component of the World Bank’s funding of urban de-
velopment in Indonesia, and KIP was regularly incorporated
into Indonesia’s successive national Five Year Development
Plans starting in 1974 (Das, 2008).
The primary purpose of KIP was to improve the quality of
life in urban kampung (the word means village, but is often
used as well to mean an urban slum) by providing basic
physical infrastructure such as paved footpaths and roads,
paved drains, garbage bins and collection, and public water
taps and toilets. The rationale was that improving physical
conditions in the kampung would stimulate the improve-
ment of individual houses, and eventually upgrade the
socio-economic characteristics of the community. For the
first ten years or so, KIP focused almost entirely on physi-
cal improvements in public areas, but then began to include
some primary health components, particularly those aimed
at children.
Over a period of nearly 30 years, KIP was implemented in
almost 800 cities and towns across Indonesia. The design of
the program allowed for expedited implementation, and the
low cost and simple technology allowed for easy replication.
Overall, the program was successful in reducing poverty in
the country (Das, 2008).
Traditional Indonesian societal customs of deliberation and
discussion, community mutual self-help, reciprocal assis-
tance and volunteering for community activities were in-
corporated into the KIP program’s community participation.
Das (2008) indicates that of the available tools, community
mutual self-help called gotong royong was widely used in
KIP implementation.
Lessons Learned
The central and most vocal of criticism of the slum upgrad-
ing approach comes from Mike Davis who argues that, under
the guise of “helping the poor help themselves”, the state has
withdrawn from its historical commitment to provide housing
to the urban poor. In addition, the cost-recovery provision of the
World Bank has effectively priced the poorest of the poor out of
the market for self-help loans. Davis cites Lisa Peattie, who
argues that in 1987 the bottom 30 to 60 percent of the popula-
tion (depending on the country) were unable to meet the finan-
cial obligations of the slum upgrading program (Davis, 2006).
Open Access 187
Moreover, the infrastructure improvements, such as those to
water supply and sewerage, have been spotty at best, and the
poor quality of construction and almost negligible maintenance
has resulted in substantial system clogging (Davis, 2006; Roy,
2004). In addition, this emphasis on physical improvements
without addressing the underlying structural issues which cause
poverty are superficial when compared to the much needed
upgrading of livelihoods, wages and political capacities (Roy,
Mukhija (2001) further identifies three flaws regarding the
security of tenure policy. First, in low-income housing, the per-
ception of security is shown as more important than the legal
status of housing; that is, the important concern is the occu-
pants’ perception of the probability of eviction. Second, tenure
itself is not sufficient to lead to higher investments, since hous-
ing finance is usually not available; and, finally, tenure legali-
zation can hurt the most vulnerable, namely poor tenants due to
increases in the cost of property and rent.
Writing in 1993, the International Labor Organization’s A.
Oberoi concluded that World Bank slum-upgrading and sites-
and-services projects had largely failed to have visible impact
on the housing crisis in the Third World. Other critics pointed to
the programmatic disassociation of housing provision from
employment creation, and the inevitable tendency for sites-and-
services schemes to be located in peripheries poorly served by
public transport (Davis, 2006).
Phase 3: 1986-1992—Enablement
Enablement is defined as providing the legislative, institu-
tional and financial framework whereby private entrepreneurs,
communities and individuals can effectively develop the urban
housing sector. Enablement is also a key part of the New Po-
litical Economy (NPE)—a theory of political economy, which
was adapted and developed from earlier neo-liberalism (Pugh,
Enablement created opportunities for partnerships and inter-
dependence among state agencies, markets, NGOs and indi-
viduals. Davis (2006) argues that enablement corresponded to
the reorientation of World Bank objectives under the presidency
of James Wolfensohn whose decade in office began in June
1995. Wolfensohn sought to make “partnership” the new cen-
terpieces of his agenda. Third World governments were re-
quired to involve NGOs and advocacy groups in the preparation
of the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) that the Bank
now required as proof that aid would actually reach target
groups (Davis, 2006).
In this phase, the World Bank, the United Nations Center for
Human Settlements (Habitat or UNCHS) and the United Na-
tions Development Program (UNDP) joined together in 1986 to
form the Urban Management Program, which hoped to improve
performance in developing countries in land management, mu-
nicipal finance, infrastructure services, the environment, and
building up the capacity of urban management institutions
(Pugh, 1995).
One of the key features of this phase was the increasing role
of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Grass root organi-
zations can play a prominent role in devising home grown solu-
tions to the problem of slums. As the Markendaya Project dem-
onstrated, the NGO Society for the Promotion of Area Resource
Centers (SPARC) played a lead role in it. SPARC involved the
residents in the design phase and built larger units than what
would have been built by the municipal government. The de-
sign of the building incorporated innovative features such as
loft areas to allow for storage, common toilets to reduce the
cost of construction and terrace space to allow for communal
However, the Markendaya Project is also an example of the
various hurdles that one has to jump through to enable imple-
mentation. The project took nearly ten years to be built and
faced multiple financial and bureaucratic challenges, and it
clearly indicated that future slum redevelopment must have
unambiguous financial and institutional guidelines to allow for
a smoother development process.
Case Study: India’s Markandeya Project
The Markandeya Project in the Dharavi slum of Mumbai is
based on the theoretical backdrop of NPE (New Political Econ-
omy) where NGOs play a key role in redevelopment efforts,
and the emphasis is on decentralization. According to conven-
tional wisdom, decentralization is an initiative to increase the
scope of direct decision-making and the responsibilities of par-
ticipants in the housing delivery process. However, Mumbai’s
case suggests that decentralization for slum redevelopment may
also lead to conflicts related to claims on the new assets, par-
ticularly where high value property assets are being created.
Conflicting demands about who is to capture how much benefit
and why can generate conflicts of institutional interest (Mukhija,
The Markandeya slum is part of Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum,
and was selected for reconstruction under India’s Prime Minis-
ter Grant Project (PMGP) in 1988, and was implemented with-
out the participation of the World Bank. The Markandeya Co-
operative Housing Society (MCHS) decided to reconstruct low-
rise housing with the support of the local NGO SPARC. In
1998, the first of the residents moved into the newly con-
structed apartments. Mukhija (2003) outlines the institutional,
physical and financial challenges that the NGO faced over the
ten-year period of reconstruction.
SPARC is a well-respected local NGO with global connec-
tions. Despite its reputation and its expertise, SPARC faced a
multitude of challenges in implementing the Markandeya Pro-
ject. The first were with PMGP, the central agency created to
run the slum redevelopment program. SPARC and PMGP had
disputes throughout the ten-year redevelopment process on is-
sue s r anging from the physical issues (size and number of un its )
to financia l.
From a physical perspective, the project changed several
times over the years. While the initial project was a low-rise
building with 94 units, common toilets and a community ter-
race, over the years as the developer changed and the land
regulations allowed for higher density, the number of units was
increased to 180. Given the increased cost of construction,
community toilets were replaced by individual ones.
SPARC struggled to finance the project, which was eligible
for a low-income housing loan from the Housing and Urban
Development Corporation (HUDCO)1. Despite having a man-
date to help low-income residents, the agency demanded col-
lateral for the loan. SPARC was able to provide the initial col-
lateral, and, in 1992, it convinced the Belgian Foundation SE-
LAVIP—Servicio Latino Americano y Asiatico de Vivienda
Popular—to provide HUDCO with a bank-guarantee for the
1Government of India’s h ousing finance agency.
Open Access
entire loan. But by the middle of 1993, as the cost of construc-
tion increased, SPARC was faced with two options: either take
out another loan at a higher interest rate, or build additional
market rate units to reduce the burden on the residents. The
MCHS members chose to increase the number of units.
Lessons Learned
Mukhija argues that the enabling approach consists of decen-
tralization, demand-driven development, privatization and de-
regulation. However, there are major shortcomings in such a
conceptualization. The approach is merely based on doing the
opposite of what is believed to have failed, and there is no em-
pirical evidence to substantiate that this will work, or that it is
the best and only alternative (Mukhija, 2003).
While several former critics have hailed the participatory
turn at the World Bank, Davis (2006) argues that the true bene-
ficiaries of the enablement approach are the big NGOs rather
than the local people. He, along with other critics, points out
that the PRSP process has bureaucratized and de-radicalized
urban social movements.
Phase 4: Current—National Slum Upgrading
Programs, the Cities Alliance
The Cities Alliance provides grants, as well as doubles as a
knowledge base for slum improvement strategies across the
world. One of its programs is the National Slum Upgrading
Policy, which calls for countries or cities to adopt national level
city level comprehensive slum policies (Cities Alliance, 1999).
It is a global partnership for urban poverty reduction and the
promotion of the role of cities in sustainable development. Its
first act after being established in 1999 was to produce the Cit-
ies without Slums Action Plan, which proposed a target of im-
proving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020
—the first time such a measurable target had been set in the
international development arena. This target was subsequently
incorporated into the United Nations Millennium Declaration in
2000 as Target 11 of the Millennium Development Goals (Cit-
ies Alliance: Cities without Slums, 2011).
The Cities Alliance Country Programs (CPs) can be defined
as, “longer term programmatic support to selected countries, at
a multiple city/national scale”. Working with multiple Alliance
members and national institutions constitutes the foundation for
progress and partnership within CPs. Early evidence suggests
that the CPs have the potential to provide a new level of coher-
ence amongst Cities Alliance members, and to ensure that the
focus is not on competing mandates, but rather on providing
support to local and national partners struggling to cope with
rapidly changing demographic trends, and on promoting a na-
tional growth agenda centered on sustainable, inclusive cities.
Two national level programs that are supported through the
Cities Alliance partnership are discussed discussed below. The
first is the Baan Makong Program of Thailand, and the second
is India’s Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY).
Case Study: Thailand’s Baan Ma kong Program
In January 2003, the Thai government announced two new
programs for the urban poor, the first is Baan Mankong (Secure
Housing) and the second is Baan Ua Arthorn (We Care). The
Baan Mankong Program provides infrastructure subsidies and
housing loans directly to poor communities to improve their
housing and basic services. This program is implemented
through the Community Organizations Development Institute
(CODI). Under the second program (Baan Ua Arthorn), the
National Housing Authority designs, constructs and sells ready
to occupy flats and houses at subsidized rates to lower-income
households who can afford “rent-to-own” payments of US $25
- $37 per month (Boonyabancha, 2005).
One of the key innovations of the Baan Mankong Program is
its reliance on communities of the urban poor and their net-
works as stakeholders to design a program to meet their needs
(Boonyabancha, 2005). The urban poor community organiza-
tions and their networks are the key actors, and they control the
funding management. Boonyabancha (2005) argues that the
process of designing and managing their own physical im-
provements stimulates deeper, but less tangible, changes in so-
cial structure, managerial systems and confidence among poor
communities. It also changes their relationships with local gov-
ernment and other key actors.
In his 2005 article, Boonyabancha describes six pilot projects
where the squatters developed a cooperative and used a variety
of mechanisms, such as long-term leases or land purchases, and,
using funds from CODI, built housing on the land. Each of the
projects used innovative methods, such as long-term land leases
or land sharing, relocating to other land nearby, and, in one case,
combining two projects to create a larger development. The
individual unit cost of the houses is relatively low as the squat-
ters themselves construct the houses, as well as negotiate for
the (lower) cost for land.
The decentralized system of the Baan Makong Program al-
lows the low-income households and their community organi-
zations to do the upgrading. This enhances their status within
the city as important partners in solving city-wide problems.
Thus, the Baan Mankong Program provides an example of the
city-wide upgrading of slums where the communities and com-
munity networks have the freedom to design and build their
own housing and infrastructure based on their individual needs,
and allows them to keep their social networks intact. This
strengthens community bonds since the community works on
the project together.
Case Study: India’s Ra jiv Awas Yojana
By 2050, when the country is projected to be more urban
than rural, more than 875 million people will live in cities,
compared to 379 million in 2010 (Nandi & Gamkhar, 2013).
Thus, India’s urban challenge is set to grow drastically.
To address this increasing urbanization, the Government of
India launched several initiatives to improve urban infrastruc-
ture. Starting with the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Re-
newal Mission (JNNURM), several slum improvement projects
were taken up under that program. In 2009, the Government
created a new initiative, Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), to separate
slum improvement programs from JNNURM. This program
envisages a “Slum-Free India” with inclusive and equitable
cities in which every citizen has access to basic civic and social
services and decent shelter. It aims to achieve this vision
through a multi-pronged approach focusing on:
Bringing all existing slums within the formal system and
enabling them to have the same level of basic amenities as
the rest of the city;
Redressing the failures of the formal system that lie behind
Open Access 189
the creation of slums, and
Addressing the shortages of urban land and housing that
keep shelter out of reach of the urban poor and force them
to resort to extra—legal solutions in a bid to retain their
sources of livelihood and employment (Kundu, 2012).
The RAY program is visionary since it requires the cities to
tackle the issue of slums from a holistic perspective. One of the
central features of RAY is the creation of a Slum-Free Plan of
Action (POA). The states and cities have to prepare and adopt
such a plan, which describes how they plan to remove all their
city slums within five years and the steps that they are taking to
avoid the creation of new slums. Emphasis is also given to data
collection and use of technology. Cities are required to create a
GIS database of all the slums and collect household surveys, as
well as involve households during all the stages of project (i.e.,
in the planning, implementation and post implementation).
RAY emphasizes in-situ development. However, it gives cit-
ies the ability to identify hazardous and objectionable slums.
While hazardous slums are defined in terms of environmental
problems and health risks, objectionable slums violate legal or
master plan norms. Researchers such as Kundu (2012) argue
that lack of clear criteria to identify “untenable” and “hazard-
ous” slums might result in ambiguity causing local conflicts.
However, technological solutions are available to address sani-
tation and drainage issues in hazardous/objectionable sites in
slums and make then tenable.
It is too early to determine whether the program is a success
or a failure, but as Om Prakash Mathur (2012) suggests, Rajiv
Awas Yojana and the Slum Free City are an interesting collec-
tion of promises awaiting performance. If the program has even
limited success in achieving its multiple objectives, it can be
considered a major departure from past practice and can there-
fore be heralded as a policy innovation. Despite the lack of data
on its success, the funding for the program was increased from
Rs. 1.5 billion ($25.2 million) in 2009-2010 to Rs. 12.7 billion
($2.3 million) for the 2010-2011 period.
Lessons Learned
Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) Sheela Patel’s re-
cent review of the Rajiv Awas Yojana Program (2013) showed
that these units were poorly built and, therefore, might be diffi-
cult to maintain in the long run. This is a striking similarity to
the public housing problems observed in the first phase. It is an
important shortcoming of the new program, and measures
should be taken to maintain the quality of construction in order
to reduce the long-term maintenance burden on the residents,
which could force them to quit their houses.
Patel (2013) comments further that although the Rajiv Awas
Yojana Program calls for community involvement, the lack of
capacity to conduct meaningful dialogue at the municipal level
results in the creation of government funded, constructor-built,
poor quality, public housing style projects. As earlier experi-
ence with public housing projects has shown, there are long
term social costs of these projects, which often only come to
light several years after the project is occupied. These early
warnings about the program should be taken seriously, and
measures should be taken to improve quality of construction of
these projects.
In contrast, one of the key lessons learned from Baan Ma-
kong is that the slum redevelopment process needs to embrace
the culture of collectivity in poor communities. This objective
is far more important than the physical upgrading. Upgrading
then becomes a process through which a group of people
change because they begin to believe in their own power and
see that they are no different than the other citizens in the city.
A slum upgrading policy needs to achieve this sense of social
upgrading in addition to the physical upgrading (Boonyabancha,
Future Directions for Slum Redevelopment
The challenge of improving housing conditions of over a bil-
lion people living in slums across the world and integrating
them into mainstream housing is a daunting task. Today, over
50% of the world’s population that lives in cities, the majority
of whom do not have access to basic services such as water,
sewer, roads, etc. Despite the horrid living conditions, millions
of people continue to move to cities searching for a better fu-
ture (UN-Habitat, 2003).
As Mehta has commented, however2, improving the living
conditions of the cities is only part of the solution. There are
other pieces of this puzzle, such as reducing rural-urban migra-
tion by providing livelihoods or improving agriculture produc-
tion in the villages. As witnessed by Roy (2004), recent mi-
grants to the city face the toughest challenges; they are un-
skilled labor and have to start at the low end of the income
chain. Due to the lack of affordable housing, they have to either
rent in squatter settlements or squat on public or private prop-
erty. These recent migrants are hit the hardest in any slum re-
development program, as their rent increases if the services are
provided to the slums. If in-situ redevelopment is proposed,
they do not meet the criteria to get a new residence and are,
therefore, left to fend for themselves. Any redevelopment ap-
proach should, consequently, provide affordable housing to
recent urban migrants.
Based on the key findings from each of the four phases of
slum redevelopment policy outlined above and from the associ-
ated case studies, there are a number of elements to an effective
slum redevelopment policy strategy that should be adopted at
both the donor and recipient levels. These are outlined below in
some detail.
Donor Level Slum Redevelopment
Policy Strategy
Donor agencies, such as the World Bank, the International
Development Bank and USAID, continue to play a prominent
role in slum redevelopment. Due to their vast monetary re-
sources, these institutions have strong negotiating power and
can set policy. For example there were huge slums near the
railway lines in Mumbai for many years, and the railways were
not interested in improving their quality. However, when the
railways were granted a loan through the World Bank to im-
prove the transportation infrastructure, part of the loan agree-
ment was to provide appropriate relocation of these slums. Due
to this stipulation, the railways started negotiating with slum
dwellers and the NGO SPARC, resulting in relocating the
17,000 slum dwellers living on railway land. Thus, donor agen-
cies have a key role in crafting an effective slum redevelopment
policy strategy, some aspects of which are discussed followed.
2In the Life of Cities: Parallel Narratives of the Urban/Mumbai, conference
held at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University Cambridge, MA
April 1, 2011 and accessed on You Tube:, February 26, 2013.
Open Access
Legislative Framework
Patel et al. (2011) suggest that public authorities are unable
to rapidly structure and implement slum-improvement projects
because they lack an effective slum-improvement-specific
statutory framework that gives them a process to follow, the
powers to cut through accumulated revenue and planning re-
lated regulatory tangles, and the authority to be able to adjudi-
cate between and compensate claimants to resolve tenure dis-
putes. This is even true for those cities that have clearly dem-
onstrated a capacity to deliver on other fronts. They argue that
key to scaling-up is to institute a comprehensive statutory
framework, embedded in powerful state-level legislation, that
public agencies can use to effectively structure and implement
context-specific slum—improvement schemes (Patel, Joshi,
Bal- laney, & Nohn, 2011).
Inclusive Growth
For a long time, slum improvement policies were based on
expert opinion. That has been dramatically altered since slum
dwellers started organizing and creating global networks. Ap-
padurai calls this deep democracy. He refers to Shack/Slum
Dwellers International, or SDI, founded in 1996, a network
which includes federations in 14 countries on four continents
(Appadurai, 2001). The slum dwellers organize, conduct their
own surveys, have a small savings account and visit each other
to learn from their mistakes.
This form of deep democracy, or democracy from below, has
allowed for them to be recognized as partners in the slum crea-
tion of improvement policies. As seen in Baan Makong, pilot
programs involving residents in the initial discussions and
planning phases allows for innovative solutions to old problems.
It is important from the donor perspective to mandate commu-
nity participation as a prerequisite for slum improvement.
However, many countries are ill equipped to do this, and train-
ing should be incorporated into policy formulation and imple-
Social Issues
Slum improvement strategies should give equal priority to
physical as well as social improvement. Unless underlying is-
sues, such as poverty, poor education, inadequate health care
and other social issues, are addressed, inclusive urban growth
cannot be achieved.
Financial Framework
While the financing of the physical construction and im-
provement have been at the forefront of the donor agency
agenda, financing other components can make a tremendous
difference in the success of a program. For example, many
cities and countries lack the capacity both in terms of the num-
ber of planners available, as well as in terms of training, to
conduct meaningful community participation. Therefore, fi-
nances for capacity building, as well as finances for exchanges
(sharing knowledge and experience), can significantly increase
the output of the project (Burra, 2005).
Paradigm shifting policy changes have often occurred due to
well designed and implemented pilot projects. Therefore, fi-
nancing pilot projects or other precedent setting activities can
encourage new models of slum improvement. NGOs are well
adapted and often willing to experiment and should be encour-
aged. Other forms of finance that should be considered include
guarantees for scaling up, pre-finance and guarantees for ac-
cessing loans and pre-finance for accessing subsidies.
Quality of Construction and Maintenance
Construction of tenement style housing for slum dwellers is
quickly becoming an easy choice for some developing countries.
Between 2005 and the end of 2011, about 525 thousand tene-
ments were constructed for slum dwellers in various Indian
cities (Sivaramakrishnan, 2012). However, recent reports show
that the quality of housing is poor, and the plumbing is leaking
and materials used are substandard3. Quality control and con-
tinuous monitoring should be part of the requirements of slum
improvement strategies.
Recipient Level Slum Redevelopment
Policy Strategy
Community Participation
Community participation in some cases, especially in devel-
oping countries, has been termed the “haan ji” (yes sir) syn-
drome4, where the community is shown as a passive participant.
Creative public participation methods should be used to en-
courage a discourse between the residents and the policy mak-
ers. Wherever possible, existing community organizations, such
as a women’s savings group or a local informal governing body,
should be used to engage the public.
Public-Private Partnerships
Another recent innovation in financing is the Public-Private
Partnership. These are becoming an important tool especially
when redeveloping well located slums. The PPP, while a valu-
able resource, should be used with great care and with due dili-
gence, since private interests can easily override those of the
Physical and Social
Physical upgrading should only be one part of the slum up-
grading approach. The underlying aim of slum upgrading is
improving the quality of life of the residents. If the slum rede-
velopment results in reduced incomes for the residents and
breaks their social networks, then the slum redevelopment can
be considered a failure despite any physical improvements. As
seen in the Baan Makong Program, involving residents from
the planning stage empowers them.
Holistic Approach
Slums are created when adequate affordable housing oppor-
tunities are not provided to the urban poor. Urbanization can be
exclusionary, as it has often been, with no formal place for the
poor in cities and towns, or it can be inclusive by jettisoning the
archaic ways in which cities are planned and governed, and any
solutions should also address the question of where the recent
r-tracing-jnnurm-housing-projects/, accessed on February 19, 2013.
4Dumas, Hugopublished on the Terra Urban Blog on February 19, 2013
ndrome/ , accessed on February 19, 2013.
Open Access 191
Open Access
migrants with limited finances will live when they first enter
the city.
Public agencies, NGOs and international organizations have
been struggling with slum redevelopment projects for over 70
years. There have been remarkable successes, and much has
been learned during this period. Yet, though it may appear to be
easy to build ambitious slum-upgrading programs, public agen-
cies across the Third World face enormous challenges to scal-
Recent nation-wide programs like Baan Makong and Rajiv
Awas Yojana are addressing the issues of slums holistically by
making legislative changes to allow land tenure for the resi-
dents, opening up markets by allowing for public-private in-
vestment, and, above all by investing both financial and intel-
lectual capital in their cities. As Bhan (2012) puts it, however,
what is hotly debated is the impact of these new policies. Will
they finally result in the creation of an inclusive society where
the poor have finally found their place in urban areas? Only
time will tell.
D. Andavarapu would like to thank Dr. Mahyar Arefi for his
valuable guidance and feed back on the paper.
Al Sayyad, N. (2004). A “New” way of life. In A. Roy, & N. AlSayyad,
(Eds.), Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives from the Mid-
dle East, Latin America and South Asia (pp. 7-33). New York: Lex-
ington Books.
Appadurai, A. (2001). Deep democracy: Urban gover nmentality and the
horizon of politics. Environment and Urbanization, 13, 23-43.
Arefi, M. (2008). Asset-based approaches to community development.
Nairobi: UN Habitat.
Bhaan, G. (2012). Urban Social Security in India. 21st Century Indian
City: Developing an Agenda for Urbanization in India, Berkely,
Boonyabancha, S. (2005). Baan Mankong: Going to scale with “Slum”
and squatter upgrading in Thailand. Environment and Urbanization,
17, 21-46.
Burra, S. (2005). Towards a Pro-poor framework for Slum Upgrading
in Mumbai, India. Environment and Urb a ni z at i on, 17, 67-88.
Cities Alliance (1999). Cities without Slums. Cities Alli ance.
Cities Alliance: Cities without Slums (2011). 2011 Annual Report: A
Strengthened Partnership for Inclusive Cities. Cities Alliance.
Das, A. K. (2008). Lofty ideal, hefty deal: Empowerment through par-
ticipatory slum upgrading in India and Indonesia. PhD Dissertation,
Los Angeles: University of California.
Davis, M. (2006). Planet of slums. London: Verson.
Engels, F. (1892). The conditions of the working class in England in
1844. London, UK: S w a n S o n n e n s c he i n & Co.
Kundu, A. (2012). Policy economy of making Indian cities slum free.
21st Century Indian City: Developing an Agenda for Urbanization in
India, Berkely.
Kundu, D., & Samanta, D. (2011). Redefining the inclusive urban
agenda in India. Economic & Political Weekly, 46, 55-63.
Lewis, O. (1959). Five families: Mexican case studies in the culture of
poverty. New York, USA: Basic Books.
Mathur, O. (2012). Slum clearance to property titling: A legislative
framework for slum-free cities? 21st Century Indian City: Develop-
ing an Agenda for Urbanization in India, Berkely.
Mukhija, V. (2003). Squatters as developers? Slum redevelopment in
Mumbai. Burlingto n: Ashgate Publishing Company.
Nandi, S., & Gamkhar, S. (2013). Urban challenges in India: A review
of recent policy measures. Habitat Internati onal, 40, 55-61.
Neuwirth, R. (2005). Shadow cities: A billion squatters, a new urban
world. New York: Routledge.
Patel, K. (2013) A succesful slum upgrade in durban: A case of formal
change and informal cont i n uity. Habitat I nte r n a t i o n a l , 40, 211-217.
Patel, B., Joshi, R., Ballaney, S., & Nohn, M. (2011). Slum planning
schemes: A statutory framework for establishing secure tenure and
improving living conditions in an Indian slum. Environment and
Urbanization Asia, 2, 45-75.
Patel, S. (2013). Upgrade, rehouse or resettle: An assessment of the
Indian Government’s basic services for the urban poor programme
(BSUP). Environment and Urbanization, 25, 177-188.
Perlman, J. E. (1976). The myth of marginality: Urban poverty and po-
litics in Rio de Janeiro. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.
Pugh, C. (1995). The role of world bank in housing. In B. C. Aldrich, &
R. S. Sandhu (Eds.), Housing the Urban Poor: Policy and Practice
in Developing Countries (pp. 34-93). London: Zed Books.
Rabe, P. E. (2009). From “Squatters” to citizens? Slum Dwellers, De-
velopers, Land Sharing and Power in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. PhD
Dissertation, Un iversity of Southern California.
Riis, J. A. (1914). How the other half lives: Studies among the tene-
ments of New York. New York, USA: Charles Scribner’s Sons.
Roy, A. (2011). The blockade of the world-class city: Dialectic images
of Indian urbanism. In A. Roy, & A. Ong (Eds.), Worlding Cities:
Asian Experiments and the Art of being Global (pp. 259-278). Mal-
den, MA: Wiley & Blackwell.
Roy, A. (2004). Transnational trespassings. In A. Roy, & N. AlSayyad
(Eds.), Urban Informality: Transnational Perspectives from the Mid-
dle East, Latin America, and South Asia (pp. 289-319). New York:
Lexington Books.
Sivaramakrishnan, K. C. (2012). Slum free cities: A pronouncement or
a policy? 21st Century Indian City: Developing an Agenda for Ur-
banization in India. Berkley: Center for Policy Research.
Turner, J. F. (1977). Housing by people: Towards autonomy in building
environments. New York, USA: Pantheon.
UN-Habitat. (2003). The challenge of slums: Global report on human
settlemtns 2003. London: Earthscan Publications.
Wacquant, L. (2008). Urban outcasts: A comparative sociology of
advanced marginality. Cambridge, UK: Polity Pres s.
Weinstein, L. (2009). Democracy in the globalizing Indian city: en-
gagements of political society and the state in globalizing Mumbai.
Politics, 397.
Weinstein, L. (2009). Redeveloping Dharavi: Toward a political
economy of slums and slum redevelopment in globalizing Mumbai.
PhD Dissertation, University of Chicago.