Pimentel Walker Finds Support for Participatory Budgeting in Slum Upgrading

Pimentel Walker Finds Support for Participatory Budgeting in Slum Upgrading

Assistant professor of urban and regional planning Ana Paula Pimentel Walker, published an article in Habitat International titled “Self-help or public housing? Lessons from co-managed slum upgrading via participatory budget.” (July 2016)  

As areas of Porto Alegre, Brazil gained attention for adopting a participatory budgeting (PB) strategy, residents’ input brought housing and infrastructure to the top of the priority list.  Participation went beyond just the budgeting and prioritization level; residents were also gaining information about how services were delivered in their areas.  However, no research had been done to clearly understand and document the impact of this type of inclusive process, which the author calls co-managed slum upgrading.

Pimentel Walker conducted research through interviews with stakeholders, many of whom were delegate representatives to the PB process.  She found that giving residents a voice in efforts to improve informal settlements (slums) and getting them at the same table with the architects and engineers involved increased effectiveness of housing provision and infrastructure upgrades. The Porto Alegre PB demonstrates that slum dwellers’ involvement in all stages of the slum upgrading process, from resource allocation to service delivery, contributed to the effective distribution of housing and basic infrastructure. Pimentel Walker concludes that housing via PB addresses the diversity of residents’ needs and provides an alternative to the dichotomist debate in international planning between, on one hand, slum clearance followed by public housing projects and, on the other, the promotion of assisted self-help housing through programs of land tenure and basic infrastructure provision.

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