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Prosperity for all

Slums and informal settlements are often vibrant centres of economic activity, with a mesh of small-scale enterprises and home-based work. This report explores their role in participatory slum upgrading.

Estimates suggest that a billion people live in informal settlements today, representing about 30% of the world’s urban population. In parallel, in many cities of Africa, Asia and Latin America the informal economy is a key source of employment, engaging half to three-quarters of the (non-agricultural) urban workforce.

Much has been written on settlement upgrading and the urban informal economy, but there is little research on the intersection of these two important areas. The potential of the informal economy in informal settlements is not yet well-understood – the types, networks and locations of economic activities, its contribution to employment, income generation and economic growth, its gender dimensions, not its potential contribution to slum upgrading and poverty reduction. Thus local economies have generally not been mainstreamed in settlement upgrading programmes.

The report, Prosperity for all: Enhancing the informal economy through participatory slum upgrading, seeks to fill this gap, exploring enabling approaches that can enhance the livelihoods and local economies of settlements, and contribute to economic development and poverty reduction. The report draws on the experiences of UN-Habitat’s Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme and has been developed with the PSUP team, and accompanies the earlier report published by UN-Habitat on Enhancing Productivity in the Urban Informal Economy.

Funder

Cardiff University

People

  • Dr Yap Kioe Sheng, Former Chief, Poverty Reducation, UNESCAP
  • Professor Alison Brown, Cardiff University
  • UN-Habitat, Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme