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Lessons from Thailand’s community-driven approach to informal settlements

Jadsada Pulintawaragoon

Upgrades of informal settlements are usually top-down bureaucratic endeavors, often resulting in forced relocations of residents. That wasn’t the case in Thailand’s Baan Mankong program, Emily Norford and Terra Virsilas report for The City Fix.

The program, which means “Secure Housing” in Thai, is very much driven by the community. In partnership with local governments, NGOs and educational institutions, local slum dwellers map their neighborhoods and craft budgets for refurbishing homes and improving infrastructure. The goal is to protect residents from eviction and ensure long-term access to land or a path to home ownership.

The initiative worked with more than 90,000 households in 1,500-plus communities throughout Thailand — including 277 cities — from 2003 to 2011, the article says. It accomplished this goal by spending only US$570 per household.

Norford and Virsilas write that Baan Mankong could serve as a template for cities worldwide. Last month, a UN-Habitat meeting in South Africa produced The Pretoria Declaration, a roadmap for slum upgrades that reflects many key elements of Thailand’s initiative.

See Citiscope’s coverage from the Pretoria event here, and our extensive coverage of the upcoming Habitat III conference here

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