Informal Settlements

An informal settlement AKA: shanty town, favela, slum, squatter camp or spontaneous settlement, is a settlement in which land is not owned but is built on with what ever resources are available.

Case Study: Rocinha (Little Farm)

Rocinha is the name given to the largest most densely populated hill favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rocinha is located in the south of Rio de Janeiro, on the edge of the city between the districts of São Conrado and Gávea as show on the map.

When people build their houses here they use mainly what every they can find: plywood, corrugated metal, sheets of plastic, and even cardboard and cardboard boxes. Somehow just this keeps all these buildings together, this along with the lack of safe water supply, hygienic streets or other basic human necessities creates poor sanitation. Although Rocinha does lack some necessities most houses still have basic electricity and plumbing.

There are 100-200 thousand people living in roughly 21 different neighbourhoods despite the area of approximately only 0.86 km². Rocinha offers some jobs but parents rely on there children to be bread winners as well. As far as the cost of building houses goes there is no problem because everyone is part of the community and the community helps to build everyone’s houses which are built one on top of another stacked one on top of another, sometimes as many as tall as 7, 8, 9, and even 11 stories tall.

The problems in these types of places normally have a small amount crime but also malnutrition and poor sanitation. To help the people of Rocinha and places like Rochinha the Brazilian government for one should put some money from the Olympic and tax money toward helping Rocinha become more of a city by giving it safe water, sanitation, health care, education which would lead to jobs for people, this will hopefully lead to people legally owning the land and building a more formal civilisation

Case Study: Kolkata (Calcutta)


  • General – The city is one of the most notorious because it has grown to fast with a lack of resources and poor sanitation.
  • Location and growth – The city is on a flat swamp next to a river. The city had a population explosion of 7 million in 1970 to 12 million in 2000 because everyone moved from rural areas to cities for jobs.

  • Physical problems – Very low to sea level along with heavy rainfall and other natural causes and disasters such as typhoons means there is a great risk of flooding. Water from flooding is contaminated with sewage, this water cost a lot for the government to have pumped away.

  • Housing – 500000 people live in the open and 3000000 live in bustees (a collection of  houses built with temporary materials such as wattle, tiles and mud) these bustees aren’t to withstand hazardous environments that can come about. Bustees are separated only by narrow alleys, each houses has only one room the size of a bathroom which families of up to eight live in. These bustees are actually owned by landlords that will evict anyone who cannot pay, no the less these bustees have over 150000 people per km2.

  • Water sanitation and health – most of Kolkata’s population has access to pipe water but most of this is unsanitary, one tap can be used by up to 35-45 families. Sanitation is non-existent because of how no one has a toilet and the sewage systems are dysfunctional and pour out. The infant mortality in 1991 was 123:1000, theses deaths were caused by cholera, typhoid, dysentery, tetanus and measles.

  • Segregation – People are segregated according to whether they’re upper class, middle class, artisan class, farmers, business workers or refugees. There is also segregation in religion between different types of Hindus.

  • Provision of services – electricity, clean water, schools, hospital and rubbish clean up is afforded by the area

  • Transport – although many people walk, there is public transport in the form of buses that are old, slow, small and numerous so cause congestion and have people holding onto the outside.

  • Employment – only a few people are unemployed because so many people are employed in the way they uses the outside of their house to sell wood, food and cloths only working a few hours.

  • The Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority – set up in 1970 this program tries to improve the quality of life for people by building pavements, drains, taps and toilets. This was well funded but due to the high birth and immigration rate this process was slowed down.

How Any Informal Settlement Can Be Improved

Self-help Schemes – Rocinha, Bairro Project

The authorities in Rio de Janeiro have taken a number of steps to reduce problems in favelas. They have set up self-help schemes. This is when the local authority provide local residents with the materials needs to construct permanent accommodation. This includes breeze blocks and cement. The local residents provide the labour. The money saved can be spent on providing basic amenities such as electricity and water.

Today, almost all the houses in Rocinha are made from concrete and brick. Some buildings are three and four stories tall and almost all houses have basic sanitation, plumbing, and electricity. Compared to simple shanty towns or slums. Rocinha has a better developed infrastructure and hundreds of businesses such as banks, drug stores, bus lines, cable television, including locally based channel TV ROC, and, at one time, even a McDonalds franchise, though it has since closed. These factors help classify Rocinha as a Favela Bairro, or Favela Neighbourhood.

Site and Service Schemes: The local government provides land and builds new roads with electricity and water connections. Local residents are then given or sold plots of land that they can build their houses on. Some site and service schemes will also have the houses built which again given away or sold cheaply to low income families.

Rural Investment: invest in the rural areas and this should hopefully slow down the pace of urbanisation into the cities.

Favela Improvement – Tourism



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