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Learning from Slum Upgrading and Participation (Civil Project)

This document compiles a highly discussed issue present in many cities of the developing world today; it brings forward the importance of facing the challenges that slums create to today’s cities and the mechanisms used for tackling such challenge.

The study focuses on the use of Participatory Planning approaches in the context of slum upgrading, giving the reader an insight to the advantages and challenges that such an approach has. It is built around a case study in the city of Medellin, Colombia where there has been a strong political will and commitment to implement programs and projects in the poorest areas of the city.

This initiative emerged as a need to tackle deep rooted problems present in the slum areas of the city that together with other issues placed Medellin as the most dangerous city of the world during the 1990s.

For tackling such a problem, the local Administration (2003-2007) created a slum upgrading model called “PUI – Proyecto Urbano Integral” (Integral Urban Project) which is said to be based on “participatory planning” and “slum upgrading” principles. The results of the first project following the “PUI Model”, the “PUI Noriental”, have been promoted by the Administration as highly successful and been considered as a model for slum upgrading both nationally and internationally.

Therefore, there is the need to acknowledge and critically asses the PUI Model by evaluating its principles, its methods and its results having a deeper understanding and assessment of the concepts behind such an approach; specially since it has been internationally recognized that there is a lack of cases in which the ideals of participation and slum upgrading are put in practice.

In this order of ideas, the principles, methods and tools of the “PUI Model” and its implementation in the “PUI Noriental”, are evaluated based on international theories and experiences dealing with the topic. By doing so, it is shown the close link between the principles of participation and the very nature of slum upgrading processes.

As well it is brought forward the need to implement such kind of a approaches in cities presenting problems with slum areas. The results of the evaluation show that even though there is a strong political will towards using principles of participatory planning and slum upgrading approaches in Medellin, there is still a high need to have a deeper understanding of such concepts and the way they can be implemented.

Nevertheless, it is shown that even with these shortcomings the significant outcomes produced by the PUI Noriental are a clear example that participation in the context of slum upgrading is a strong tool to bring benefits to the people of such areas.
Source: KTH
Author: Calderon, Camilo

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