What are slums?

While 220 million people have been lifted out of slum conditions over the past 10 years, the number of people living in slum conditions is likely to grow by six million every year, to reach a total of 889 million by 2020. It is necessary to equip cities and their practitioners with the tools and capacities to anticipate and control urban growth and city officials will require knowledge, skills and methodologies that will allow them not only to upgrade existing slums but also prevent the appearance of new ones.   This Guide advocates for a citywide approach to slum upgrading, which represents a fundamental shift from piecemeal project interventions to a citywide programme approach. This Practical Guide is part of a trilogy on citywide slum upgrading that includes Streets as Tools for Urban Transformation in Slums: A Street-led Approach to Citywide Slum Upgrading and A Training Module for Designing and Implementing Citywide Slum Upgrading. With the other two partner publications, the Practical Guide provides an accessible tool for practitioners, leading them through UN-Habitat steps towards a successful citywide slum-upgrading program


GLobal Urbhan ObservatoryThe Global Urban Observatory (GUO) helps cities get a bird’s eye view of their situation and their needs. Using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology, it helps cities get a bird’s eye view of their situation and their needs.

Photograph a city from space, magnify it, look at a few streets in any area, and then send in survey teams to fill in the blanks from the streets up –

  • How many people live there?
  • How many have access to water and sanitation?
  • Are the roads in need of repair?
  • How many people have AIDS or malaria?
  • Which slums are the most overcrowded?

Armed with answers to such questions it is far easier and cheaper to bring improvements.  The information gathered and researched provides a database of statistics and indicators on the state of urban development around the world.

The information provided enables UN-HABITAT to monitor implementation of target 11 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) to significantly improve the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by the year 2020




Leave a comment