Slum Rehabilitation

Providing safe, decent homes for people living in informal settlements

Upgrading slums is one of our core activities in developing countries where ever-expanding informal settlements is an issue

Progress against the growth of slums is real. In the past 15 years, the proportion of urban dwellers living in slums decreased from 40% to 30%. However, as the global population keeps increasing and an ever growing number of people move to the cities, the problem is growing again. We need your help more than ever to build more decent homes, and keep improving life in slums across the world.

Informal settlements

As cities become more expensive to live in, affordable land becomes increasingly scarce and new housing developments tend to focus on the more well off. In many parts of the world, this has led to the creation of informal settlements where people live in unplanned and poorly serviced shelters.

Population density, land value, competition over land rights and forced evictions are pushing people out of their homes, to the edge of cities and into living conditions that are far from safe or healthy.

The lack of basic facilities

Informal settlements, also called “slums”, lack important factors that make a house a home, such as cramped spaces leading to overcrowded homes, access to water & sanitation, durability and secure tenure.

Today, 1.6 billion people live without adequate shelter. In some countries, the percentage of the urban population living in slums is as high as 90%. We know from experience that transforming slums into sustainable communities requires a partnership between the residents of the slums, local governments, and private partners.

Unsafe & unhealthy homes

  • The lack of toilets causes diseases like cholera to spread like wildfire
  • Poor ventilation (lack of windows) helps contribute to respiratory diseases
  • Earthen floors are almost impossible to keep clean and turn to mud when it rains. They also present an added risk of worm-infections and other parasitical diseases
  • Children don’t have a place to do their homework after school and often lack the light to do so at night. Their materials are easily damaged by water and the high risk of contracting an illness keeps more children out of school

Building disaster resilience

To build stronger cities that can withstand the effects of disasters and climate change, cities need to incorporate resilience strategies into their planning policies. By integrating disaster resilience into sustainable development, communities can:

  • Tackle predictable disasters
  • Better cope with the increasing impacts of extreme weather patterns
  • Mitigate potential damage to people, housing and infrastructure

A prime target for natural disasters

Natural disasters affect about 188 million people each year and often have sudden and destructive impacts on housing. Poor and…

Natural disasters affect about 188 million people each year and often have sudden and destructive impacts on housing. Poor and marginalised communities are among the most vulnerable.

People living in improvised informal settlements are more prone to death, injury and the loss of housing after a disaster for a whole variety of reasons:

  • Slums are often located in areas vulnerable to natural hazards, such as steep slopes and floodplains
  • They often don’t meet basic construction and safety standards
  • When people live with the threat of eviction, they are less likely to invest in house improvements which will strengthen the structure and help resist disasters


Time to end the global housing crisis

Every week more than a million people are born in, or move to, cities in the developing world.

Today, a billion people, 32% of the global urban population, live in urban slums. If no serious action is taken, the United Nations reports that the number of slum dwellers worldwide will increase over the next 30 years to nearly 2 billion – or 1 in 4 people.

Unsafe and unhealthy housing has its greatest impact on underprivileged children and orphans, keeping many of the next generation trapped in poverty.

Disaster relief in the Philippines: typhoons and slums

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