Getting Started: Identification
Social Issues

References are arranged following the project phases. ‘Must read’ are indicated by Must Read and most include a copy of the Table of Contents or an abstract.

Housing is much more than a bricks and mortar construct for shelter. It has very direct bearing on our lives. Unfortunately many times housing and upgrading strategies far from having a positive impact end up causing adverse outcomes. Research indicates that particular attention should be paid to the impact of upgrading in the following three areas:

  1. Gender
  2. Tenants and the Poor
  3. Poverty Alleviation, Employment and the Work Place

General references:

Livable Cities for the 21st Century. World Bank. 1996. Washington DC: The World Bank.

“Intention and Outcome: Formalization and its Consequences.” Sanyal, Bish. 1996. Regional Development Dialogue, Spring.


Researchers of projects in developing countries have demonstrated that housing and upgrading projects are not gender-neutral. This new literature cautions that projects are usually designed and planned from the perspective of male beneficiaries and this can often result in adverse impacts on the female beneficiaries. Currently the literature points to two main areas of caution, though it is quite likely that gender-sensitivity is required in more aspects. The two current areas of focus are, design and property rights.

“Gender and Command Over Property: A Critical Gap in Economic Analysis and Policy in South Asia.” Agarwal, Bina. 1994. World Development 22 (10): 1455-1478.

“Women, Property and Power.” Barnes, Sandra T. 1990. In Beyond the Second Sex: New Directions in the Anthropology of Gender. Edited by P. R. Sanday and R. G. Goodenough. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

“Women’s Work and Built Environment: Lessons from the Slums of Calcutta, India.” Bose, Mallika. 1999. Habitat International 23 (1): 5-18.

Must Read “Special Issue on Gender and Development.” Chant, Sylvia. 1995. Third World Planning Review 17 (2). (Table of Contents)

“Women Owners, Tenants and Sharers in Botswana.” Datta, Kavita. 1996. In A Place to Live: Gender Research on Housing in Africa. Edited by Ann Schlyter, pp. 112-126. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.

“What would a Non-sexist City be like? Speculations on Housing, Urban Design, and Human Work.” Hayden, D. 1980. In Women and the American City. Edited by Catherine Stimpson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

“The Role of Gender in Mediating the Impact of Official Interventions in Informal Settlements: A Study from Columbia.” Kellett, Peter and Ann Garnham. 1995. Habitat International 19 (1): 53-60.

“Women in the informal house-building industry in Nigeria.” Labeodan, Olusola. 1992. Habitat International 16 (1): 17-24.

Must ReadWomen, Human Settlements and Housing. Edited by C. Moser and L. Peake. 1987. New York: Tavistock Publications. (Table of Contents)

Must ReadA Place to Live: Gender Research on Housing in Africa. Schlyter, Ann. 1996. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet. (Table of Contents)

“Tenure, Gender and Household Structure.” Somerville, P. 1994. Housing Studies 9 (3): pp 329-349.

From Private to Public: Gender, Illegality and Legalization of Urban Land Tenure. Varley, A. 1996. Cambridge MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Department of Urban Studies and Planning, MIT.

Tenants, the Poor and Displacement

One of the biggest dilemmas in urban upgrading is displacement of the vulnerable, particularly tenants and the poor. In many instances the poor and the tenants are the same, but upgrading projects through separate ways can adversely impact both. Improvements as a consequence of upgrading can raise the value of property, making it feasible for landlords to demand higher rents from their tenants. Tenants that can’t meet the expectations of rent are likely to be displaced. On the other hand improvement strategies financed through cost recovery without recourse to any subsidies are likely to result in the displacement of poor property owners unable to meet the upgrading expenditure.

Broadly three kinds of solutions are advanced to deal with this tricky problem. First, a slow pace of upgrading that matches changing and rising income levels and expenditure capacity of the poorer beneficiaries. Second, targeted subsidies. Third, different and specially designed packages of property rights to counter the adverse impacts on the vulnerable.

“Urban Tenants and Community Involvement.” Andreasen, Jorgen. 1996. Habitat International 20 (3): pp 359-365.

Must ReadLandlord and Tenant: Housing the Poor in Urban Mexico. Gilbert, A. and A. Varley. 1991. New York: Routledge. (Table of Contents)

“Housing the Urban Poor.” Gilbert, A. and J. Gugler. 1982. In Cities, Poverty and Development, pp. 81-115. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Land Supply and Housing Expenses for Low-income Families. Mitra, B. C. and P. Nientied. 1989. Amsterdam: Free University.

Must ReadKarachi Squatter Settlement Upgrading: Improvement and Displacement? Nientied, Peter, E. Meijer, E., and J. Van der Linden. 1982. Amsterdam: The Institute for Geographical Studies and Urban and Regional Planning of the Free University of Amsterdam. (Table of Contents)

“Housing the Urban Poor: A Case Study of Pumwani, Kibera and Dandora Estates in the City of Nairobi, Kenya.” Syaga, Paul M. and J. M. Kiamba. 1992. African Urban Quarterly 7 (1 & 2): pp 79-88.

Poverty Alleviation, Employment and the Work Place

Upgrading projects and policies have two direct ways of influencing poverty alleviation and employment opportunities. First, the very act of upgrading can create opportunities for employment. Second, upgrading invariably impacts existing work places and sites of employment within urban settlements.

The policy advice is to be cognizant of the above relationships and make decisions regarding upgrading methods and technologies based on the potential of employment creation and the potential adverse impact of short-term and long-term closure of work sites. The second aspect is particularly significant when dealing with informal employment activities that are not always environmentally benign.

Must ReadJobs, Land and Urban Development: The Economic Success of Small Manufacturers in East Delhi, India. Benjamin, Solomon J. 1991. Cambridge, MA: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. (Table of Contents)

“Beer Brewing and Housing Strategies in Lesotho.” Mapetla, Matseliso. 1996. In A Place to Live: Gender Research on Housing in Africa. Edited by Ann Schlyter, pp 145-159. Uppsala: Nordiska Afrikainstitutet.

“Some Second Thoughts on Sites and Services.” Peattie, L. 1982. Habitat International 6 (2): pp 131-139.

Must Read“Home-based Enterprises in Cities of Developing Countries.” Strassman. Paul. 1987. Economic Development and Cultural Change 36(1): pp 121-144. (Abstract)

Bibliography Links

| Bibliography Index | Upgrading Strategies | Social Issues | Physical Issues |
| Financial Issues | Institutional Issues | Implementation Issues |
| Evaluation and Impact Assessment Methods | Overview | Handbooks, Manuals |

| What is Urban Upgrading? | Doing Urban Upgrading | Case Examples |
Issues and Tools | Resources | About This Site |
Search Web Site | Site Map | Home | Ask Grady | Feedback |

Copyright © 1999-2001, The World Bank Group. All Rights Reserved.