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The Slum Upgrading Myth


  • Herbert Werlin

    (5910 Weschester Park Drive, College Park, Maryland 20740-2802, USA, werlin@crosslinknet)


The World Bank's slum upgrading approach, used for the first generation of its urban development projects during the 1970s and 1980s, was considerably influenced by the writing of John F. C. Turner. Turner minimised the role of government, limiting it to providing essential environmental improvements and public services, thereby allowing squatters and/or slum-dwellers to improve gradually their living conditions. While early evaluations of slum upgrading projects in Calcutta, Jakarta and Manila indicated the success of this approach, later evaluations raise doubts about it. The 'minimal state' advocated by Turner is clearly unable to deal with the problems typically emerging from slum upgrading efforts. For these efforts to be sustainable and replicable, more attention must be paid to providing land tenure, requiring a combination of authoritarian and humanistic administration.

Suggested Citation

  • Herbert Werlin, 1999. "The Slum Upgrading Myth," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 36(9), pages 1523-1534, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:urbstu:v:36:y:1999:i:9:p:1523-1534

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    Cited by:

    1. Alan Gilbert, 2007. "The Return of the Slum: Does Language Matter?," International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(4), pages 697-713, December.
    2. repec:adm:journl:v:6:y:2017:i:10:p:32-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Simon Franklin, 2015. "Enabled to Work: The Impact of Government Housing on Slum Dwellers in South Africa," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-10, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    4. Lall, Somik V. & Suri, Ajay & Deichmann, Uwe, 2005. "Household savings and residential mobility in informal settlements," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3596, The World Bank.
    5. Andrea Rigon, 2014. "Building Local Governance: Participation and Elite Capture in Slum-upgrading in Kenya," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 45(2), pages 257-283, March.
    6. Arimah, C. Ben, 2010. "The Face of Urban Poverty Explaining the Prevalence of Slums in Developing Countries," WIDER Working Paper Series 030, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    7. repec:bla:devpol:v:36:y:2018:i:2:p:190-202 is not listed on IDEAS

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