Urban Fold

A Toolkit to Improve the Slums of Brazil

Brazilian slums represent huge segments of the country's urban population, especially in Sao Paulo. Upgrading them into economically sustainable segments of the city is a challenge, but a new toolkit offers a path to success.

Cities with large slum areas can now designate them as "zones of special interest", which makes them eligible for funding and master planning efforts. In addition, scholars and lawmakers argue that simple records of landownership and rights will greatly advance organization of these growing urban areas.

"Moving to more legal tenure, experts on Brazilian slum upgrading suggest, requires three elements to be workable. First, is the location OK for human settlement -- not a water pollution risk because its location is too steep or on a flood plain? Second, is the settlement legally registered, or at least in the database of city properties? And third, do its residents have legal title to the land? And if not, what can be done to assure them secure tenure?

There are clear rewards if a full process of regularization – providing clear legal tenure – can be achieved. If families can have their land title confirmed, or at least secure a certificate recognizing their occupancy rights, some taxes can be levied. Rules can be set (and enforced) to prevent building collapse. Regular streets, schools and clinics can be brought in, attracting investment. And it's easier to reduce litter by organizing residents to bring their own household waste to collection points for city pick-up."

Full Story: No Excuses Slum Upgrading

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