Building Community: A Third World Case Book


This book describes major breakthroughs in housing, being made today by the poor of Third World countries. Living under governments which cannot afford to house them, and unable to afford market prices, they must build their own communities. Between half and three-quarters of all new homes in most Third World Cities are build by low-income people. When they have access to available resources and are free to use them in their own ways people and their community-based organizations can build up to five times more than their own governments with the same funds, and to similar or better standards.

The book shows how people can win their rights to resources for housing and the freedom to act for themselves; how governments can enable people by supporting local initiative; and how the essential changes in understanding can come about.

The project on which this book is based started in 1983. The NGO Habitat Project was HICs contribution to the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless in 1987, with the aim of drawing worldwide attention to: the underestimated contribution and underused potentials of NGOs (non-governmental organizations) and CBOs (community-based organizations) in home and neighbourhood building, improvement, management and maintenance by and for the people, especially (by and for) those with low incomes and who are vulnerable to discrimination or disasters.

The 20 cases in this book cover a wide range of geographic, social and economic conditions and span a spectrum of scales from small village and neighbourhoods to relatively large townships. The projects selected also show widely different ways in which environmental improvements ser as vehicles for social and economic development.

The cases present many useful examples of ways and means for locally self-managed home and neighbourhood building, improvement and management. These are the useful precedents to be found in this book, as thy are far more likely to be adaptable and transferable to other situations than whole programmes. Programmes are courses of action composed of selected options for the component tasks form initial group of community organizing to the management and maintenance of the improvements. The great variety of programmes illustrated by the cases highlights a key issue discussed in the Conclusions: the common but vain search for replicable programmes to be administered by central authorities. Every successful programmes is uniquely adapted to its place, time and people, as it must be it is to match peoples needs and priorities. This book is not intended as a catalogue of model programmes to be adopted by agencies and imposed on people, therefore. Rather, it is a source of tools for community building ideas and methods for use by local peoples and those working with them, to plan and carry out their own programmes.



Editor’s Preface

Foreword by Dom Hlder Camara, Archbishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Olinda and Recife, Brazil. Edited from his keynote address given at the Habitat Forum Berlin Conference: Learning from One Another in Berlin (West), June, 1987.

Introduction by John F.C. Turner, Coordinator of the Habitat International Coalition’s NGO Habitat Project for the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, 1987, the source of the case materials in this book.

African Cases

  • Human Settlements of Zambia (HUZA), Lusaka. NGO promotes community development.
    Kebele 41, Redd Barna Project, Addis Ababa. Community-based urban development in Ethiopia.
  • Pozzolana Cement Project (PPCT), Ruhengeri. A local alternative to Portland cement in Rwanda.
  • Tarime Rural Development Project (TARDEP). Rural people improve their housing in Tanzania.
  • Ukanal Fe, Oussuye, Casamance. Young people develop their community in Senegal.

Asian Cases.

  • Baldia Soakpit Project, Karachi. Pakistani women lead a low-cost sanitation project.
    Ganeshnagar, Poona. Renters take over and transform an Indian slum settlement.
    Kampung Banyu Urip, Surabaya. Indonesians participate in inner-city settlement improvement.
  • Klong Toey, Bangkok. A slum community’s thirty-year struggle in Thailand.
  • Orangi Pilot Project, Karachi. A low-cost sewer system by low-income Pakistanis.
    Saarland Village 1, Greater Manila. Philippino squatters become secure home owners.
    Village Reconstruction Organization (VRO), Coromandel Coast. Landless rural Indians build new villages.
  • Yayasan Sosial Soegiyapranata (YSS), Semarang. New homes and improved lives for Indonesian scavengers.

Latin American and Caribbean Cases

  • Centro Co-operativista Uruguayo, Complejo Bulevar and Mesa 1, Montevideo. High-rise management and low-rise self-build cooperatives.
  • El Augustino Zone III, Lima. Peruvians redevelop their inner-city settlement homes.
    Palo Alto Co-operative, Metropolitan Mexico. Rural migrants gain secure housing in Mexico.
  • Villa Chaco Chico, Cordoba. Argentineans secure tenure and develop their settlement.
  • Villa El Salvador, Atocongo, Lima. Low-income Peruvians build a new township.
  • Women’s Construction Collective (WCC), Kingston. Skills and employment for Jamaican women.

Issues and Conclusions by John F.C. Turner

A Directory of Sources

The Limuru Declaration: drafted in April 1987 by representatives of 45 NGOs worldwide.