Journal article

Informal settlement upgrading and safety: experiences from Cape Town, South Africa

Research Areas

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Publication Details

Author list: Brown-Luthango MM, Reyes E, Gubevu M.

Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)

Publication year: 2017

Journal: Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

Journal name: Journal of Housing and the Built Environment

Volume number: 32

Issue number: 3

Start page: 471

End page: 493

Total number of pages: 23

ISSN: 1566-4910

eISSN: 1573-7772



Informal settlement dwellers are disproportionately affected by ill
health, violence and many other socio-economic challenges. These are
largely connected to the unhealthy and unsafe physical conditions within
which they live. Interventions in the built form through the provision
of physical infrastructure have been proposed as a strategy to improve
economic, social and health outcomes for informal settlement dwellers
and are also suggested as tools to address violence and insecurity,
which have reached unprecedented levels in many cities of the South.
Whereas there is a clear case for improving the living conditions of
people in slums, there is still much debate and uncertainty about what
exactly constitutes upgrading, the most appropriate methods and
approaches to upgrading, and what the objectives and desired outcomes of
upgrading interventions ought to be. This paper tries to shed light on
the complexity of upgrading interventions through a comparison of three
upgrading projects, each utilising a particular method and approach, and
their impact on the perception of safety of their beneficiaries. The
research findings show that physical improvements and a full package of
basic services are absolutely crucial to improve the living conditions,
reduce vulnerabilities and improve the safety of informal settlement
dwellers. But these need to be supported by social and economic
programmes in order to bring about tangible improvements in people’s
life circumstances. Research across the three sites, however, suggests
that in a context marked by high unemployment, poor education and
limited opportunities to break the cycle of poverty, the long-term
impact and sustainability of upgrading interventions is limited in the
absence of targeted programmes aimed at addressing the structural
factors which drive and sustain high levels of violence and crime.


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Housing, Informal settlements, Violence

Last updated on 2018-02-05 at 13:31