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How To Decide Which Area to Upgrade?

Any criteria limits the expansion of upgrading programs in reaching larger segments of a city. If only a few meet selection criteria, it is relatively easy to determine which to upgrade and where to focus efforts. Early and relatively easy successes of upgrading would result. However this implies that the remaining majority of settlements require intervention which would be more problematic and invariably more expensive. In short, the difficult issues would lie ahead and scaling-up of efforts would be increasingly difficult.

A more fundamental question is which to upgrade first: the more difficult or the less problematic?

For ‘first’ efforts in upgrading, relatively simpler projects would be recommended, both to gain from the experience before shifting to more complex areas, but also to assure success and build confidence among staff and communities.

Two sets of criteria are included. One focuses more on criteria, and the other more on policies, although the difference between the two is largely semantic.

Photo: Burma - Girl on mud walk

Selection Criteria

Excerpt from:
Imparato, Ivo and Jeff Ruster. Participation in Upgrading and Services for the Urban Poor: Lessons for Latin America. 1999. “The Promueba-Caracas Sub-Project Selection Criteria”

The following criteria were drawn from the PROMUEBA informal settlement upgrading program in Caracas, Venezuela, and also were used in Recife, Brazil, in their programs.

Socioeconomic and health situation: Settlements with critical poverty as evaluated by appropriate socioeconomic indicators, and a high-incidence of waterborne diseases rate high in need to upgrade.

Level of community organization: The stronger the organization the easier will be the process - particularly in participatory approaches - and potentially more successful the outcome.

Land tenure: Those on land belonging to the state or other public bodies are better to select, than those on invaded private land which will face legal obstacles and will delay implementation. (See also Land Readjustment as practiced in Thailand.)

Settlements in high risk areas: These are avoided because they would require removal and resettlement of a large portion of the residents. Steep-slope areas which would require installation of new access roads and resultant displacement of families are also included in this group.

Land use constraints: Settlements in areas set-aside by law for a specific use should be avoided.

Overriding public interest: When located in areas that are earmarked for large infrastructure of city-wide interest, it is unwise to upgrade these areas.

Existence of trunk infrastructure: Areas near existing spare capacity of trunk infrastructure should receive priority, since investments will be more cost effective.

Selection Policies

Excerpt from: The Policy and Management of Squatter Upgrading: Some Reflections of the Latin American Experience. Aristizabal de O., Gladys; Lewin, Christopher; Mendez, Olga; and Ziss, Roland. SUM Consult. Working Paper prepared for GTZ. Eschborn, March 1989. pp 47-48.

The identification of the appropriate project area usually may involve the following criteria:

Upgrading priorities of the implementing agency, central government or municipality.

Clearly defined boundaries of the settlement permitting adequate planning and use of resources.

Public sector ownership of land in order to avoid the necessity of costly and time-consuming expropriation. Upgrading where land is owned by a few and often absentee landlords is likely to lead to the expulsion of the original tenants.

Topographic conditions permitting appropriate and adaptable technical solutions. Upgrading that requires extravagant technical solutions may be more costly than resettlement. Experience suggests that not every squatter settlement can be upgraded and that careful cost-benefit analysis is required in order to determine “upgradability”.

Technical and socio-economic needs of upgrading. Most squatters and slums are heterogeneous and require sectional and adjusted solutions to meet the needs of subsectors.

Homogeneity of the community that will permit mobilization and the implementation of self-help programs. Where an extreme gap exists, it may be difficult to mobilize the community and procure consensus of the residents regarding priorities and requirements.

Existing previous self-help organizations, projects and efforts by the community or groups of residents.

Typical identification and selection problems

Very often not all these criteria can be met, and consequently the project selection will require a process of “trade-offs”.

It is not always easy to define the project area in the absence of clear geographic boundaries. An arbitrary limitation is often the source of later conflicts with neighborhood settlements.

Difficulties in identifying land ownership due to outdated cadastral registry.

Technical difficulties and high costs of upgrading some parts of an area that are sometimes the poorer and more needy sections.

Social and heterogeneity and conflicting interests between the more consolidated segments and the poorer segments of a settlements.

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