Welcome to the United Nations. It's your world.
United Nations Development AccountUnited Nations Headquarters New York

Development Account Projects

Strengthening national capacities to formulate and adopt housing and slum upgrading strategies


The unprecedented proliferation of slums is a manifestation of the lack of adequate and affordable housing in cities, resulting from ineffective public housing policies and urban planning. While the Millennium Development Goal target of improving the lives of 100 million slum dwellers by 2020 has been achieved, the absolute number of the urban poor has increased and projections for 2020 indicate that the number of slum dwellers in the world will rise further, from 863 million to

billion, if no remedial action is taken. It has become internationally recognized that, in least developed and post-crisis countries in particular, the current housing supply is not responding to the demands of the urban poor. Because of this, and the increased costs of health care, sanitation and public safety associated with slums, many of these countries have identified slum upgrading and housing as among their top development priorities.

Addressing these housing shortages requires a shift in thinking and practice on the part of Governments and housing practitioners. A key challenge is to integrate the housing agenda into overall urban agendas, rather than operating in isolation without sufficient synergies with other city processes. The housing agenda also needs to be more inclusive. This requires closer linkages of housing with other parts of the economy; decentralized housing production; and the promotion of sustainable buildings, neighbourhood designs and technologies. It also calls for more effective efforts to address urban segregation (resulting from increased economic inequality and the divide in housing access), the lack of housing finance solutions for the poor and the failure of housing markets to meet housing needs.

The project is focused on developing capacity in six least developed countries to formulate housing and slum upgrading strategies that integrate the concerns mentioned above, implementing the UN-Habitat Global Housing Strategy at the country level. In “The future we want”, world leaders committed themselves to promoting sustainable policies to support the provision of increased resources for affordable housing and housing-related infrastructure, prioritizing slum prevention and upgrading. The Strategy employs global housing trends built upon the Global Strategy for Shelter to the Year 2000, national housing policy reviews, situational analysis and comparative global policy research contextualized to regional and national specificities. It is entrenched in the current global reality, which is marked by several sustainability challenges: the financial crisis and world economic recession, urban exclusion and environmental degradation.

The project will provide a critical slum prevention component to an ongoing participatory slum upgrading programme initiated by the secretariat of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific States, financed by the European Commission and implemented by UN-Habitat. The main counterparts in the six countries will constitute national habitat committees (civil society, the private sector, academia and development partners). The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as an established partner, will support countries in formulating their rights-based approaches to housing. OHCHR and its network of grass-roots partners, community-based organizations and non-governmental organizations will also be essential for the mobilization and empowerment of target groups. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), through the recently signed memorandum of understanding with UN-Habitat, will help to ensure gender equality and women’s empowerment with a view to adequate housing for all. The relevant United Nations regional commissions will be important regional platforms for advancing the United Nations agenda on housing and will act as catalysts for the dissemination of the results to other countries in their regions.


To strengthen the national capacities of at least six Member States in the formulation, operationalization and revision of national housing and slum upgrading strategies and policies

Expected accomplishments:

  • Establishment and strengthening of national habitat committees for the formulation and implementation of sustainable and inclusive housing and slum upgrading strategies and/or policies
  • Regional commitments for inclusive, rights-based, gender-responsive and results-based sustainable housing and slum upgrading endorsed by Governments

Implementation status:

In progress.