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Upgrading versus eradicating informal settlements: experiences from Bangalore and Harare

India and Zimbabwe

Up to 20% of Bangalore’s population lives in informal settlements with no access to basic services. Over a five-year period from 2000 to 2005, the Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) implemented a programme to improve water delivery in the informal settlements. By 2005, more than 5% of informal settlement households in the city had access to water and were fully functioning customers receiving bills and making payments. The programme allows shared connections between 8 and 12 households and specifically offers lower pricing for households located in the informal settlements. The project not only increased the number of households with access to the water network, it also reduced the residents’ dependency on illegal connections and decreased the BWSSB’s amount of non-revenue water being used.

In Harare and other major cities across Zimbabwe, a different approach was employed to deal with populations in informal settlements. For seven weeks starting in May 2005, a government-led clean-up campaign named Operation Murambatsvina was implemented with far-reaching impacts. Its aim was to eradicate illegal housing and alleged illicit business activities. A total of 92,460 housing structures were destroyed and 700,000 people—nearly 6% of the country’s population—lost their homes. An estimated 2.4 million more people were indirectly affected by the campaign, and the informal work sector, which accounted for 40% of all employment at the time, was destroyed. As a result, people who had been driven out of their homes were left even more vulnerable

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