Slum dwellers already invest much more in their living environment than the combined effort of public sector and donor agencies. If these investments can be further encouraged and supported, there is scope for substantial scaling up through decentralized upgrading.
The social networks of the urban poor are an important starting point for upgrading. They allow slum residents to pool resources, to share information, and to gain influence. The joint activities of such networks can be boosted by additional loan funding and the creation of an enabling environment. But, in order to become more effective upgraders, slum dwellers also require information and knowledge, on a range of issues. Whilst they do hold local knowledge that is often valuable, they may have to rely on some information from elsewhere to be able to innovate. This, they often find hard to access, and therefore they most often rely on their social networks for information.
Evidence is starting to emerge that good practice can spread, hence upgrading scaled up, e.g., via the exchanges of information between networks of slum dwellers, and innovative uses of communication methods. This publication considers a number of such examples and begins to define some guiding principles for building bridges with the grassroots in the slums.
Building bridges with the grass roots. (2003)