An increasing proportion of householders in developing world cities are using the space of the dwelling and the labour of the household to generate income in a wide variety of home-based enterprises (HBEs). In most cities such enterprises conflict with planning norms and zoning regulations with regard to economic activities within residential areas and consequently are actively
repressed or grudgingly tolerated. Rarely are such activities acknowledged as playing a positive role economically or socially. However given the weakness of the formal employment sector and the inability of the state to deliver in many areas of urban policy, such informal household initiatives have a vital role to play both in poverty alleviation at household level as well as contributing to the vitality of neighbourhood and national economies. Because of their income-generating potential, the presence of HBEs is likely to improve housing conditions even though their use of space and generation of externalities may be seen as harmful. To examine these issues we will draw on empirical evidence collected as part of a recently completed international comparative research study into the environmental impacts of HBEs in four developing world cities. The project was funded by the British Department
for International Development (DFID). Data from the two Asian cities (New Delhi and Surabaya) will be used to present the case for a radical rethinking of official policy responses to home-based income generation in low-income areas.
The paper offers physical planning guidelines with respect to infrastructure provision and plot sizes; proposals to minimise health and safety risks; examples of good practice with reference to credit and finance and advocates the localisation of planning and building control.
Paper presented at the ENHR 2002 Conference in Vienna, 1-5 July, 2002. pp. 22