Helping low-income groups in Karachi, Bangkok and Kathmandu to take advantage of urban density

IIED worked with local partners to seek out alternative routes to density, that don't force people to choose between being displaced to distant peripheries or being crowded into unhealthy "slums" or apartment blocks.

Ended 2015
Anna Walnycki

Principal researcher, Human Settlements research group

Human Settlements research group
Housing justice
A programme of work producing knowledge and methodologies for housing policy and initiatives that promote wellbeing and sustainability in cities of the global South
A 'living room on the street' in Paposh Nagar, Karachi (Photo: Fareena Chanda)

A 'living room on the street' in Paposh Nagar, Karachi (Photo: Fareena Chanda)

The IIED Human Settlements Group worked with local partners, under the intellectual leadership of Arif Hasan, to identify plot-based planning processes that could help to give low-income residents better access to the benefits, and avoid the costs, of densification.

This work was gathered and presented on a website that includes case studies from KarachiBangkok, and Kathmandu.

For Karachi, the ideas presented in the case study were later adapted to a new development available, and the recommendations were published.

Even if low-income households in rapidly urbanising countries can find a place in the city, they often get pushed away as the city develops, land values increase, and informal acceptance is replaced with formal rejection.

An inclusive city is one that not only helps to make land available to its growing population, but protects them from involuntary displacement as the city grows, and land values increase.

This means a planning process that facilitates the densification of low-income neighbourhoods, as long as the residents themselves are benefiting.

It also means giving these residents more collective capacity to improve their neighbourhoods, and more security from eviction when they do invest in improvements.