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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The economic, social and environmental challenges of informal settlements

Addressing the problems of informal settlements requires better understanding of the driving forces contributing to their expansion and growth. Countries in the region experiencing informal settlement growth are grappling with the same set of systemic problems related to lack of access to affordable housing, inappropriate spatial planning policies and an incomplete system of land management as well as growing urban poverty, though in very different national contexts. A common element of this process in transition countries is the combined effect of economic transformation and civil strife, which has provoked a sudden acceleration of urban migration and a proliferation of informal settlements in more than 12 countries. Central and local governments were largely unprepared to face the pressures on land, housing and services. Years after these conflicts, later illegal or informal construction covers large tracts of peri-urban land, and is home of both socially vulnerable groups and relatively well-off migrants to the cities.

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