December 2-6, 2019
Informal communities are a way of life for millions of city dwellers
Globally, an estimated 1 billion people live in informal settlements, and that number is expected to grow to more than 3 billion by 2050. Informal settlements are typically overcrowded, with low-quality housing.
Many people who live in informal settlements also work in the informal sector — as informal vendors or workers in low-skill and low-wage jobs — without social insurance or protections. Addressing living conditions for the urban poor, along with livelihood opportunities, is essential for improving livability and inclusion for all city residents.
Community outreach: a crucial step in improving conditions for the urban poor
Tokyo Development Learning Center (TDLC) convened experts and practitioners from Japan and around the world for a Technical Deep Dive (TDD) on improving infrastructure, services and livelihoods in low-income urban settlements. Held Dec. 2–6, 2019 in Tokyo, the event was attended by delegates from 11 countries (Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda, Indonesia, Myanmar, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Egypt, Djibouti, and Pakistan).
A recurring theme was the need to consider community perspectives (such as technical knowledge, concerns, and willingness) when undertaking urban upgrading projects. Ms. Somsook Boonyabancha, Chair of the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights, explained that rapid urbanization frequently results in evictions in informal settlements and thus a weakening of these communities. Accordingly, city governments need to actively engage with the urban poor to better understand these issues. Engagement can also empower communities and facilitate local initiatives to upgrade infrastructure and services.