Self-made cities

In search of sustainable solutions for informal settlements in the united nations economic commission for europe region

image of Self-made cities
Informal settlements are often characterized as “illegal” residential formations lacking basic infrastructure, security of tenure and adequate housing. This book describes how more than 50 million people in the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) region have come to live in informal settlements and examines the main characteristics of the phenomenon. It also provides policy recommendations based on case studies and initiatives implemented in the region, with varying degrees of success. It concludes that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution, as informal settlements are the product of complex socio-political processes that differ significantly from country to country and from region to region.

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I was born in Tirana, my parents too. I thought that living in Tirana city was my privilege, and that everyone, like me, was born there. One day I was walking in the streets of my city with a friend of mine. She came from Kukes, a city in the north-east of Albania. While we were walking, I noticed that she was greeting numerous people in the streets, but I didn’t recognize any of them. I realized that Tirana was no longer only mine. Tirana nowadays is for all those that have come from north, south, east and west of Albania. They might not have a house in the centre of Tirana, they might live kilometres away, on the periphery – the so-called “informal areas” – but they work in Tirana. From their homes, spread over thousands of hectares, they flow like streams that join a river and then disappear again into the chaos of the city.

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