International Development Planning Review

Urban poverty and housing transformations in informal settlements: The case of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

International Development Planning Review (2009), 31, (1), 81–108.

Abstract

Housing is an important asset of the urban poor. Depending on the ability to manage the asset and on the regulatory framework, households can earn income from renting out rooms and move out of poverty. This study is on housing transformations in informal settlements, unlike similar earlier research on government-built housing. Based on empirical investigations in two informal settlements in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, the article explores the effects of housing transformations on urban poverty. Owner households earn substantial amounts of income from renting out rooms and from water vending. Grown-up children 'nest' in their parents' homes and use them as working spaces, thus enhancing the stock of social capital in owner households. On the negative side, housing transformation contributes to excessive plot coverage, in-house crowding, occupational health hazards and poor sanitary conditions. Through road encroachment, housing transformation can render settlement structure dysfunctional. The negative externalities undermine efforts to increase household income and to promote health in informal settlements, and are likely to compromise some of the Millennium Development Goals targets in Tanzania. Operationalising empowerment in informal settlements is one of the most promising ways forward.

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Sheuya, Shaaban