Towards a Right to Space

Kerwin Datu reflects on the implications of treating the world's diverse mixed-use slums as residential only enclaves.

The danger is identifying informal settlements by residential metrics alone is that policy responses will only be directed at ameliorating housing issues. As Datu explains, "The primacy given to a slum's residential spaces determines the kinds of policies used to address them, such as affordable housing schemes, housing financing mechanisms, sites and services projects, etc. The beneficiaries of such policies are typically the household, and access to benefits restricted to that type of occupant."

Ignoring the diverse activities such as manufacturing, education, and health care taking place side-by-side in many slum communities will inevitably limit the positive outcomes of interventions planned by well meaning governments and NGOs.

"While our definitions of slums must incorporate more kinds of spaces, recognising the multiple functions within slums means recognising that slum communities require and deserve much more space than they currently occupy. When we upgrade or replace slum housing on a one-to-one basis, we are maintaining the status quo that slum communities must double-up on how they use spaces, reproducing the overcrowding and health and safety risks these overlapping activities create."

Full Story: Has our focus on housing distracted us? Towards a right to space

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