Informal status: How legal frameworks shape settlements, strategies and tactics

According to Robert Neuwirth, over one billion people live in urban communities without legal claim to the land they live on. This rise in informal housing is often driven by mass migration to cities by people seeking work or fleeing from conflict or environmental disaster. Informal status refers to more than just housing: in Jakarta, the personal ID card serves as an invisible divider between formal and informal residents, and as an excuse for denying rights to the marginalized population. Read on to see how the question of informality is addressed in five cities across the globe — then join the conversation in the comments below.


Catalina Gomez, Coordenadora da Rede em Rio de JaneiroAssentamentos de baixa renda no Rio: Classificação, sistemas de informação e assessoria legal

Catalina Gomez, Coordenadora da Rede em Rio de Janeiro

Historicamente a definição de "assentamentos de baixa renda", melhor conhecidos como favelas, tem sido bem polemica no Brasil e especialmente no Rio de Janeiro. Estas comunidades não são homogêneas e por tanto uma definição muito especifica pode ter implicações de caráter legal, politico e socioeconômico para a cidade e seus moradores.

A partir dos anos 80, a Prefeitura do Rio vem trabalhando com uma definição geral de assentamentos de baixa renda como áreas que carecem de infraestrutura e serviços públicos e que estão habitadas por população de baixa renda. Também a partir desta mesma década foi desenvolvido pela Prefeitura o Sistema de Assentamentos de Baixa Renda (SABREN), que reúne informações sobre os assentamentos precários e informais cariocas, com o principal objetivo de apoiar a priorização de intervenções dos programas de urbanização. Atualmente, o SABREN tem informação atualizada de cada bairro de baixa renda na cidade baseado no ultimo censo de 2010.

Nos últimos anos, mais especificamente a partir de 2010, a Prefeitura procedeu a uma nova classificação dos assentamentos de baixa renda em três grandes grupos: (i) favelas, subdivididas em complexos e isoladas; (ii) loteamentos e (iii) comunidades urbanizadas. A "favela" foi definida como "área predominantemente habitacional, caracterizada por ocupação clandestina e de baixa renda, precariedade da infraestrutura urbana, ausência de parcelamento formal e construções não licenciadas, em desacordo com os padrões legais vigentes". Atualmente a cidade tem um total de 594 favelas, incluindo bairros como o Complexo do Alemão e a Rocinha.

O "loteamento" é definido como um "parcelamento legalmente aprovado e não executado, ou executado em discordância com o projeto aprovado (loteamento irregular) e ao executado sem aprovação do poder público municipal". Segundo o SABREN a cidade tem um total de 983 loteamentos.

A "comunidade urbanizada" está definida como "aquela que tenha sido objeto de programas de urbanização integrada, tais como Favela-Bairro, Bairrinho e outros similares" onde aquela comunidade tenha se beneficiado de melhoras da infraestrutura básica e serviços públicos. Atualmente existem 83 comunidades urbanizadas, tais como bairros como Morro Santa Marta, Pavão Pavozinho e Vidigal. Esta ultima classificação é um claro esforço por parte da Prefeitura em diferenciar aquelas comunidades que já tem melhoras de aquelas que ainda são muito precárias. Também é um claro esforço para reduzir o preconceito associado às favelas.

Na hora de urbanizar favelas, a Prefeitura declara estes territórios em "áreas de interesse social", com o objetivo de viabilizar a construção de moradia de interesse social, além de promover a redução de impostos e taxas de serviços para seus moradores. A Prefeitura também esta no processo de expansão dos Postos de Orientação Urbanística e Social (POUSOS), que apoiam na consolidação das comunidades e sua transformação em comunidades urbanizadas. A principal função dos POUSOS é informar sobre normas de regularização fundiária e assessorar moradores. Igualmente sucede com a atenção para loteamentos clandestinos aonde vem se implantando os Núcleos de Regularização de Loteamentos, que oferecem assistência legal para moradores e sua obtenção de títulos de acordo com as estipulações locais. Este tipo de assistência e claramente custosa e demorada porem sua expansão tem sido limitada. No futuro imediato estes esforços serão acrescentados, especialmente nas áreas de maior concentração de loteamentos clandestinos.

Katy Fentress, Nairobi Community ManagerMathare Family Picture Archive: Proof of continuity in a century-old slum

Katy Fentress, Nairobi Community Manager

On the slopes of Mathare Valley in the eastern part of Nairobi, a couple of miles from the city center, lies "Mathare slum," the oldest shantytown in Kenya.

Although most informal settlements in Nairobi were established in the second half of the twentieth century, Mathare has been informally populated since the city's colonial days. According to the Nairobi Slum Inventory compiled by Muungano Trust, the birth of Mathare dates to the year 1921, when Africans began settling the area, around what was an Asian-owned rock quarry.

After independence, Mathare's population grew substantially and residents began to attempt to improve their surroundings by establishing their own schools, community organizations, and Nairobi City Council (NCC)-provided services. Nevertheless, according to Muungano Trust, these actions went largely ignored, and the only service the NCC provided was forced structure demolitions.

After the 1950s, Mathare's settlement patterns changed as more than 20 construction companies began building in the area. By 1969, the Valley's population had reached 30,000 people crammed together on approximately 70 hectares of land. As is still the case today, most of these people neither owned nor squatted the shacks they lived in, but were required instead to pay rent to structure owners who had no clear title to the land themselves.

Mathare is and always has been a lucrative investment for corrupt landowners and property developers, who take advantage of the perceived absence of a legal framework and are not obliged to provide any services or infrastructure to their tenants.

An alternative research and advocacy tool

Following the 2009 government census that tallied the population of Mathare at 80,309 — a number which Muungano Trust argues should be closer to 188,000 — a small group of researchers began to assemble photographs taken of Mathare Valley residents over the decades.

The project goes by the name of Mathare Family Picture Archive (MFPA) and is spearheaded by Claudio Torres, a Chilean architect who until recently had an office in Mathare and cooperated with different international NGOs on development and emergency plans in the area.

In a recent interview, Torres explained that the project started as a research tool to understand the Mathare way of life and the relationship that residents have to its land and structures.

"We were interested in comparing living standards over the past half century and understanding how the situation has changed," says Torres. "What we soon came to realize was that in many respects nothing has really changed; the situation today to is very similar to the one in 1960, demonstrating how the slum has perpetuated specific living conditions over a long period of time."

According to Torres, the MFPA is also intended to provide a permanent archive for slum dwellers: "People lose pictures in slums due to fires, flooding, and demolitions, but they do everything they can to preserve them — these are vulnerable artifacts that need to be preserved for continuity."

Thus the archive perpetuates memories, giving residents a shared sense of history and identity — something that, in Torres' view, is not too easy to find in other aspects of slum life.

Finally, though, records like those of the MFPA can serve as an important advocacy tool for residents to demand their right to adequate housing related to a specific piece of land.

The MFPA documents the story of Mathare — which, as mentioned above, is intrinsically tied to the surrounding land. "What we wanted to prove in this particular case," Torres tells us, "is that relocation is not a viable alternative for slum upgrading in Mathare because slum-dwellers here have historical ties to this land. We have pictures that show a mother with a baby in 1967, and then, years later, that baby grown up with children of his own. This kind of stuff proves continuity and is an anti-eviction tool, something specific that can be used as proof in a legal claim."

"I don't know how this will be linked to future slum-upgrading or improving initiatives," Torres concludes. "However, how slum dwellers are related historically to a piece of land is a global problem, so whether we can use it here as an effective advocacy tool will then prove if it can be replicated elsewhere."

Photos: Mathare Family Picture Archive

Carlin Carr, Mumbai Community ManagerRazing slums for lack of "beauty"

Carlin Carr, Mumbai Community Manager

At night, lights dot Mumbai's famed Marine Drive as it curves along the city's coastline. The glittery scene has earned the stretch the title of the "Queen's Necklace," harkening to a sophistication linked to its imperial past. Today, Mumbai's ambitions are far from its former colonizers: the city's development plans look east with a goal of building the city in the likeness of Shanghai. Making modern Mumbai into a "world-class" city — gleaming towers, modern roadways, and, of course, no visible signs of the rampant poverty that plagues 60 percent of the city's residents — has led to a new justification for ridding the city of slums: aesthetics.

Most demolition drives are predicated on a slum's illegal land use. The shanties build up on vacant lots, reclaimed marshlands or alongside waterways, and with cities bursting at the seams, those plots have increasingly become the desire of profiteering builders. The dominant justification for destroying slums, therefore, has been that the land was not theirs to build on in the first place. However, as a picture of what Eastern cities could look like has emerged from Shanghai, Singapore, and Hong Kong, a new legal discourse and justification for ridding the city of "nuisances" such as slums has followed.

"Nuisance has thus become the key legal term driving slum demolitions and has been incredibly influential in resculpting both Delhi's residential geography and how the city's future is imagined," says a 2008 article in Economics and Politics Weekly that shows how the legal shift in Delhi has had widespread implications for all of urban India. The article explains that a subjective vision of the city has been created by those who are land-owning, which has become synonymous with the notion of legitimate citizens of the city.

These "legitimate" residents then project a "vision of urban order — i.e., a world-class aesthetic — founded on property ownership... Indian cities' embourgeoisement is taking place not through a simple assertion of elite power, but rather through the more subtle production of a new aesthetic ordering of the 'public' and its 'proper' uses." This "world-class" aesthetic has no place for open defecation, trash heaps, and mounds of tin rooms stacked atop one another. The way a slum looks — "dirty" — has become the basis for demolitions born of appearances.

In Mumbai, the fight against demolitions continues. Last week, slum dwellers from all over the city marched three lanes wide in a unified voice against these policies. The protests have been led by Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, an organization made up of slum dwellers, Slum Rehabilitation Authority-affected people, and the unorganized sector workers, whose aim is "not just a fight for housing — it is for development with justice and equity." Their goal is to demand their basic human right to housing and show that "poor localities in urban areas need to be seen not as illegal encroachments but as service guilds." That would require reorienting this "vision of urban order" that has been created. As Saskia Sassen said in a talk in Mumbai this week, "Cities have the potential to unsettle themselves." In other words, dominant systems can be disrupted, and gathering the voices of the people is the way to start.

Julisa Tambunan, Jakarta Community ManagerJakarta hanya milik pemegang KTP Jakarta

Julisa Tambunan, Jakarta Community Manager

In Jakarta, a variety of personal documents are officially required for citizens in order to have access to public services, apply for jobs, operate businesses, etc. One of the most vital documents is the personal identity card. In the past, the government of Jakarta has used the card for numerous human rights violations, including controlling the movement of rural migrants to urban areas, denying marginalized groups access to services, and justifying land evictions. Even today, the card still serves as an invisible divider between the formal and informal residents of Jakarta.

Setiap warga negara Indonesia yang berusia di atas 17 tahun wajib memiliki KTP atau Kartu Tanda Penduduk. Dokumen tanda pengenal ini berisikan sejumlah data diri mulai dari nama, alamat, sampai agama dan etnis. Sejumlah daerah di Indonesia telah mulai menggunakan e-KTP atau tanda pengenal yang terdata secara online, namun meski pendataan telah bersifat modern, berbagai informasi diri yang rentan terhadap pelanggaran HAM tersebut tetap tercantum. Siapa sangka kalau selembar KTP membuka begitu banyak kesempatan bagi pemegangnya?

Status legal = layanan publik

Untuk mendapatkan berbagai layanan publik di Jakarta, terdaftar sebagai warga ibukota yang ditandai dengan kepemilikan KTP Jakarta merupakan syarat penting. Akses terhadap layanan publik tersebut beragam mulai dari air, listrik, tanah, sampai layanan keuangan. Tak hanya itu, memasukkan anak ke sekolah negeri seringkali membutuhkan KTP dan pihak sekolah hanya menerima orangtua dengan KTP Jakarta. Warga di pemukiman informal juga biasanya tidak akan banyak diganggu oleh aparat jika memiliki KTP Jakarta. Praktek terdahulu menunjukkan bahwa sejumlah warga yang tak punya alamat sah di Jakarta pun membayar "uang tak resmi" pada oknum di kelurahan agar bisa mendapatkan KTP dengan alamat palsu di Jakarta.

Pemerintah provinsi DKI Jakarta yang sebelumnya beberapa kali menerapkan razia KTP, terutama pasca libur lebaran. Hari raya umat muslim tersebut biasanya sekaligus menandai datangnya ratusan ribu imigran dari daerah lain yang berbondong-bondong memasuki Jakarta untuk mencari pekerjaan atau melakukan kegiatan ekonomi lainnya. Kebanyakan pendatang berakhir bekerja di sektor informal. Oleh karena itu, pemerintah DKI punya alasan khusus mengapa sektor informal sering dijadikan bulan-bulanan: karena mereka yang bekerja di sektor ini kebanyakan tak punya KTP Jakarta. Secara sistematis, berbagai cara pun ditempuh untuk "mengusir" para warga informal ini dari ibukota. Pemerintah kota pernah melakukan "sweeping" dari pintu ke pintu di sejumlah perkampungan informal di Jakarta.

Diskriminasi KTP

Bentuk diskriminasi yang ditelurkan oleh selembar kartu tersebut tak hanya itu. KTP memberi tanda khusus bagi kelompok-kelompok tertentu, mantan narapidana misalnya. Hal tersebut kerap kali menimbulkan bentuk pelanggaran HAM dengan cara mamangkas akses kelompok-kelompok tertentu dari hak mereka sebagai warga kota. Ujung-ujungnya, biasanya mereka akan dikenakan biaya tambahan untuk mengurus dokumen legal seperti pindah rumah, beli tanah atau buka rekening di bank.

Satu-satunya cara bagi mereka yang berada di sektor informal untuk hidup tenang di Jakarta adalah jika mereka tak pernah bersentuhan langsung dengan sektor formal, sehingga terhindari dari berbagai proses yang mengharuskan adanya pencatatan secara legal. Artinya, layanan publik pun didapat dengan cara yang umumnya ilegal. Selama praktek ini masih dilanggengkan, maka masih panjang jalan Jakarta untuk menjadi kota yang adil bagi semua warganya, dan sektor informal pun akan tetap termarginalisasi.

María Fernanda Carvallo, Gestor Comunitario de Mexico D.F.Seguridad de la vivienda en asentamientos informales en la ZMVM

María Fernanda Carvallo, Gestor Comunitario de Mexico D.F.

Land use in Mexico City is regulated by a legal framework that develops the rules of the game for different actors amongst cities. Certain stakeholders are especially vulnerable because they live in irregular settlements. Because this population is under constant threat of eviction, they do not make infrastructure investments, reducing their health and quality of life. Échale a tu Casa works with this population living in irregular settlements to help them regularize the land they live on, and provides them with financial and material help to improve their houses. By receiving this support, a vulnerable population is offered a safety net that enhances their houses and incorporates their homes into the formal system.

El uso de suelo en el Distrito Federal (D.F.) es un marco legal que orilla a que la gente desarrolle estrategias y tácticas para la supervivencia, de manera que puedan contar con uno de los capitales más elementales para la vida, como es la vivienda. Una de las grandes problemáticas que aqueja a la Cd. de México es el acceso a la vivienda para toda la población demandante. Si bien son varios los factores que impiden este acceso, uno de los elementos es el uso de suelo, pues el 59 por ciento de la extensión territorial del DF está destinado al suelo de conservación, dejando para el desarrollo urbano el 41 por ciento del suelo. En este sentido, la migración del campo hacia la ciudad, la explosión demográfica y la industrialización, son factores que junto con la distribución del uso de suelo han heredado a la vida de las personas una problemática con respecto a su dinámica de vida.

En este contexto, viviendas informales surgen del fraccionar parcelas como terrenos ejidales, sin servicios públicos, infraestructura y transporte. Dichas viviendas se encuentran en un estatus informal ante la falta de registro de la tenencia de la tierra, pues de acuerdo a Hernández en su estudio "Espacios públicos en barrios informales", se puede argumentar que la principal característica de los asentamientos informales es que se han desarrollado en su mayoría, a través de prácticas de autogestión, con poca participación de organismos públicos o privados. Derivado de lo anterior, los ocupantes de la vivienda no gozan de una seguridad para mejorar su entorno, puesto que viven la incertidumbre de poder ser desalojados ante la falta de los títulos de propiedad.

Ante esta problemática, el gobierno mexicano ha elaborado distintos planes de desarrollo para combatir la pobreza urbana a través del manejo y gestión del suelo de los asentamientos informales. Primero se formaliza la transmisión de los derechos de los terrenos a quienes los ocupan para, después, reconocer ese espacio como parte de un área urbana que tiene el derecho a recibir servicios públicos. El problema es que según la Ley de Planeación del D.F., las políticas de regularización están centradas en la titulación de los terrenos y raramente ésta viene acompañada de regularización en servicios.

Es así que la organización Échale a tu Casa trabaja para que en México cada familia pueda acceder a una vivienda patrimonial, ecológica y digna, a través de un programa de autoproducción y autoconstrucción de vivienda por medio de la participación comunitaria. La vivienda digna brinda protección, bienestar, independencia, patrimonio e inserción social. Para la implementación, la organización lleva una unidad productiva a las comunidades en áreas rurales, semi-urbanas y urbanas y capacitan a las familias en la producción de su propio material y edificación de su casa. Para responder a las necesidades de los hogares en materia de servicios básicos, las viviendas Échale cuentan con ecotecnias, como captación de agua pluvial, filtración de aguas grises, calentador solar, celdas fotovoltaicas y estufas ecológicas.

El programa de autoconstrucción asistida ha permitido que en colonias urbanas, como en Nezahualcóyotl, las familias cuenten con seguridad de la vivienda a través del mejoramiento de su entorno, acceso y adaptación a las necesidades sociales y climáticas.


Julisa, just like Indonesia, Brazil faces key challenges in reducing exclusion of people due to their lack of basic documentation. The country has several official basic documents, but the main one is the birth certificate, which allows issuing other identity cards, like the basic id known as RG.

Although great efforts have been made in reducing the number of children without birth certificates through initiatives that provide free certificates in health posts and hospitals right after the moment of birth, there are subsequent problems. Many people lose their birth certificates through their lives as a result of a natural disaster, or misplacement or lack of care. And issuing new copies of birth certificates are relatively expensive to cover, especially for low income populations. Not having basic documentation prevents people to register at the national registry for poverty reduction programs and in obtaining several benefits, including housing subsidies, perpetuating their informal status.

I was reading a post on Global Urbanist blog by Kerwin Datu and Naik Lashermes and was reminded of this conversation. They bring up several important points which I thought I would share here - including how it is important to focus on the fact that people are being discriminated against, not just "marginalized"; and the role governments can play in supporting rights of those employed in the informal economy. See excerpts below and check out the article here :

"It is important to see this as discrimination, a word that carries greater legal meaning than marginalisation or exclusion. To call for an end to marginalisation carries moral weight only; to call for an end to discrimination invokes a longstanding trend of identifying discriminated communities and creating new legal instruments and institutions to protect their rights. Clearly we believe that the global urban development community has a massive legal project to embark upon, though at the moment we still wonder how this might be initiated, given the inability of most international organisations to contravene the politics of their constituent national governments. A rare opportunity is the World Bank's "two-year process to review and update its environmental and social safeguard policies" begun in September, which we would urge readers to get their organisations involved in."

"We need to learn that it is counterproductive to disrupt and destroy the informal livelihoods of many to improve formal livelihood opportunities for a few. We are very proud to have worked with WIEGO (Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing) this year to show how governments and workers can collaborate to strengthen workers' current livelihoods and improve their integration within the formal systems of the city, from new regulations securing rights for street vendors in Bhubaneswar and Durban to informal waste pickers being adopted as official waste collectors in Belo Horizonte and Pune. However there are still millions of other informal workers to whose needs governments remain insensitive, such as food sellers in Accra and home-based contract workers in Pakistan and Bangladesh."

I found the transcripts on the Kenyan Hansard (National Assembly Record) from 1973 very interesting as they shed light on the fact that there were people in government in those early days who were in fact struggling to ensure some basic services (mainly health) did actually reach the people of Mathare.
These attempts were inevitably stonewalled and one can only guess that eventually the MPs gave up and stopped trying (seeing that the events they predicted would happen did).

Here are some excerpts (they make for an interesting read!):

Dr. Waiyaki: Mr Speaker. Sir … where are the 100,000 people living in Mathare Valley supposed to receive treatment? With this large number of people living in Mathare Valley, there is still no provision for a health center despite the very bad condition in which these people live!
Mr Jahazi: Mr Speaker. Sir, Mathare Valley is not outside the City boundaries. Therefore people living there should look around and see which is the nearest health center they can attend. If they cannot see one they can go to Kenyatta National Hospital (6miles from Mathare) … also think that Mathare Valley is a temporary settlement and we are going to have better housing facilities for these people some time in the future.
Mr Kanja: Mr Speaker. Sir, do you not think that the hon. Assistant Minister should provide this health center which the Member for the area is asking for in view of the fact that the present population of Mathare Valley is very congested and to ask them to travel to Kenyatta national Hopstial for medical services will result in too much of an inconvenience for them?
Mr Jahazi: Mr Speaker, Sir, I said that these people can go to Kenyatta Hostpital if there is no health centre near Mathare Valley. This can only be the last resort… I am sure that although they are congested in their living quarters the whole of them are not sick…
Mr Karungaru: Mr Speaker. Sir, do you not think that the Assistant Minister is very unfair to the people of Mathare Valley, by not providing them with health facilities? If you agree with those sentiments, would it be in order to kindly ask the Assistant Minister to be fair and just to these people and help them to get facilities before the whole situation deteriorates because the present conditions in the area are very undesirable?
Mr Jahazi: Mr Speaker. Sir, I don not know what the hon. Member wants me to say, or what he means by “undesirable”.

Katy Fentress
URB.IM - Nairobi Community Manager

Maria, your article reminds me of a talk I heard at a conference in Mysore a couple years ago by a World Bank representative. She had looked at how securing land rights and housing tenure had a dramatic impact on all other areas of life--education, livelihood, basic services, etc. The underlying threat of eviction means that people are less likely to establish roots in other ways, thereby creating an even greater cycle of poverty--dropping out of school earlier or accepting lower paid work. The WB study showed how income, education levels, housing circumstances and basic services all improved with housing tenure (I believe the study was done in Nairobi, though it was a while ago now).

Carlin, thanks for your comment. Indeed, housing is one of the main assets of people in order to develop livelihood strategies. Caroline Moser developed the model of Asset Vulnerability Framework, which argues that there are main assets that the urban poor need in order to break the cycle of poverty. In this sense, with out housing and land tenure, people's health coud be threathen and people social links as well due that they do not have a land or a space where to settle.
For that reason, the security of tenure try to foster the portfolio of assets of the urban poor, by different strategies, one is land tenure and the other one is through making the house the main pilar of people. Beyond the regularization of land, the development of basic infrastructure provides housing security to people, so that community social ties empowers members of families, by strengthening this social capital, families can develop strategies for sustainable livelihoods and self-management.

Catalina, I found your discussion of the role of the government in trying to address the recognition and improvement of defined slum areas very interesting! In the first instance, I've come across a few different community-focused mapping projects on low-income/slum areas, but it's interesting to see how the government has taken in and worked with this data -- it seems to be a goal that many other communities in cities are also working toward.

I'm also hoping you could describe more how the government's approach, specifically the trends in improvements in government-supported "urbanized communities" cum "socialized interest areas" -- do these seem to be sustainable improvements, are the communities on board with the government's approach, has the government stuck to its commitment? What about the favelas or the loteamentos -- does the government plan to intervene somehow to provide some sort of supports, or is the approach to neglect them and instead focus on those it believes it can improve?

Victoria, your comments and questions are very much appreciated. First of all, I must start by agreeing with you that Rio’s experience in addressing the problems of low income settlements has been quite valuable and could serve as example to several cities with similar conditions. I still think Rio has a long way to go in order solve its urban poverty problems, but at least it is moving in the right direction with strong government leadership and commitment. In addition Rio has developed information systems, as well as clear definitions and procedures to assist low income areas and their dwellers.

Another positive achievement is Rio’s pioneer and well-known upgrading program, Favela Bairro, which has been promoting for over a decade key improvements of urban and social infrastructure, like roads, health posts and childcare facilities. Beneficiary neighborhoods are the ones that in my article are described as “urbanized communities”. Results of such interventions have been mixed as some communities have highly been improved and others still have great needs, but let’s not forget that “urban upgrading” is a process that takes time and requires long and sustained efforts; it is never a “one time shot”. The government is committed through additional resources in continuing support to such areas and in engaging more members of community to ensure sustainability and ownership of efforts. Partnership with civil society is key at this stage of the process.

An additional upgrading program called Morar Carioca, has recently been launched with the goal to upgrade all favelas and loteamentos by 2020, an incredibly ambitious goal, but remember the city has some incentives (and pressure) to improve its poorest areas due to the upcoming mega-events in 2014 and 2016. Great part of the local government resources will be allocated to address this goal. So when you ask about the commitment of the government in supporting favelas and loteamentos, it is very clear there is commitment, resources and know-how to move forward. Where there seems to be a challenge ahead is on the government's “pressure to deliver”; the greatest concerns are based on recent cases of inadequate consultations and lack of community involvement in order to rapidly move forward with interventions. This creates room for improvement and careful action from the government side.

Citando a Francesco Piazzesi, un tema muy importante que ha sido abordado en otras ciudades del mundo para dar acceso a la vivienda es el uso de inmuebles abandonados para dar solución de vivienda a las familias de escasos recursos, vida a la Ciudad y erradicar el efecto de "las ventanas rotas". Claro que para tal efecto sería necesario empezar por cambiar la ley y realizar acuerdos con los dueños, en caso de que estos existan. Hábitat para la Humanidad en Argentina tiene gran experiencia en el tema.

Hi Katy, thank you for publishing the story on Mathare Family Picture Archive. As one of the researchers who was involved in the project I can confirm that the information we collected gave us an amazing in-depth view of what it means to live in a place like Mathare. The experience was really amazing for me and I look forward to the launch of the MFPA website in the coming months.

Maria Grazia you are most welcome. The pictures we published for the article were absolutely fascinating and I hope to be able to see more of them once the archive is online.

Katy Fentress
URB.IM - Nairobi Community Manager

No person is against development of the cities. What is actually required while evacuating the people of the slums is to provide them alternate dwelling places and an identity. This should be made available by the people profiting from the evacuated slums.

I beg to differ with your observation. In a situation like the one in Nairobi, in which slums have arisen specifically because greedy and corrupt people profit out of the existence of such places, I would argue that the people who allow this to happen are specifically and selfishly against the development of cities because they are for lining their pockets and the two things don't necessarily go hand in hand.
Slums are only evacuated once these people no longer profit from them, or once they have found a way to profit more or because for some miracle the rule of law is being imposed. It is only through the backing of a strong government that viable alternatives can be explored.

Katy Fentress
URB.IM - Nairobi Community Manager

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