This report firstly looks at the documented understanding of urban poverty and how inadequate and restrictive standards and regulations are contributing to the continuation of problems for the urban poor and creating bottlenecks for poor people to address their development problems. In reality urban regulations are complex, irregularly enforced and can often be circumvented through payment of bribes, and the middle classes rather than the urban poor usually find these systems more suited to their needs. The authorities do in fact at times clamp down rigorously on informal settlements to placate the middle classes and because they consider them to be an easy target. However, the evidence suggests that in cases where enabling policy for development in informal settlements has been promoted, both formal and informal processes can be strengthened to produce standards that lead to sustainable improvement and workable regulations. A summary of the development of the RGUU in Kenya, India and Sri Lanka in relation to these considerations is then presented.
Paper presented at the Second RGUU International Workshop held at Bourton on Dunsmore, UK, March 2003, 28 pp.