India, Brazil And South Africa Address The Challenge Of Slums

The World Bank Institute. March 22, 2012

India, Brazil, and South Africa share common development patterns, economically, socially, and politically, and together can not only learn from each others’ successes and challenges, but also become major players in the geo-political space.

While Brazil has already achieved a high level of urbanization, tested different policies and approaches to address the slum challenge, and therefore can share many lessons of what has worked, what did not work, and why, it still struggles to address the extreme inequality between its rich and poor; it still has 44 million people living with inadequate urban housing or utilities.

India is one of the most rapidly growing economies in the world and has a large urban population although its urbanization level is relatively low. Faced with the challenge of improving the governance framework and service levels in cities, India has formulated groundbreaking urban policies in the last decade but despite these initiatives, its almost 93 million people living in slums will probably double in the next twenty years.

South Africa has made significant progress in designing progressive policies and intergovernmental fiscal transfer systems to address apartheid’s legacy of inequality. Although South Africa has delivered formal housing to 3 million households since the fall of apartheid, it recognizes that there is a lot still to be done to address the challenge of nearly 12 million people living in shacks or precarious shelters.

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South African Housing Literature – 1999-2003

Prepared as a briefing document for delegates to the 2003 Housing Summit.

Compiled by Dr Marie Huchzermeyer – Postgraduate Housing Programme, Wits University
Commissioned by the Department of Housing, Pretoria – Funded by the Housing Finance Resource Programme

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Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa

The Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa (CAHF) is the housing finance division of FinMark Trust, a non-profit trust with a mission of ‘making financial markets work for the poor’. The vision of CAHF is to be a primary source of information and debate relating to affordable housing finance in Africa, with a special focus on the SADC region.  Our work covers three main areas: understanding the housing asset, innovation in housing finance, and monitoring housing sector performance.  As a way to promote housing finance sector development in Africa, CAHF regularly commissions research studies; hosts forums; strategy and discussion sessions and workshops; and participates in local and international conferences and debates on housing finance. As a result, the Centre has become a credible source of information, thought leadership, and a point of contact for housing finance practitioners in both the public, private and NGO sectors, including private companies, donor agencies, policy makers and other stakeholders across the African continent.  The Centre also provides strategic and secretarial support to the African Union for Housing Finance.

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World Bank – Urban Poverty and Slum Upgrading – For the first time in history more than half the world’s people live in cities. Over 90 percent of urban growth is occurring in the developing world, adding an estimated 70 million new residents to urban areas each year. During the next two decades, the urban population of the world’s two poorest regions—South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa—is expected to double.

The urban growth is attributed to both natural population growth, and rural to urban migration. Urbanization contributes to sustained economic growth which is critical to poverty reduction. The economies of scale and agglomeration in cities attract investors and entrepreneurs which is good for overall economic growth. Cities also provide opportunities for many, particularly the poor who are attracted by greater job prospects, the availability of services, and for some, an escape from constraining social and cultural traditions in rural villages. Yet city life can also present conditions of overcrowded living, congestion, unemployment, lack of social and community networks, stark inequalities, and crippling social problems such as crime and violence.

Read more: World Bank – Slum Upgrading

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South African Government – Department of Human Settlements


The Department of Human Settlements determines, finances, promotes, communicates and monitors the implementation of housing and sanitation programmes in South Africa.

Government has set itself the target of making a positive impact on the quality of life of 500 000 households by 2014, by upgrading informal settlements. The upgrade will provide households with security of tenure and access to essential services in sites that are close to economic and other social amenities.

To meet its objective of sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life, the Department of Human Settlements has identified the following areas of priority:

  • accelerated delivery of housing opportunities
  • access to basic services
  • more efficient land use
  • an improved property market.

Between 1994 and June 2011, government built over three million homes for South Africans, giving shelter to over 13 million people.

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UN Data – Slum Population in Urban Areas

Slum population in urban areas:

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