The urban poor are not a homogeneous group and the special needs of particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged groups, especially women and renters, would need to be recognised in developing appropriate regulatory processes. There are good reasons, e.g. health and safety, for regulating settlements, but still very many of the urban poor fall outside formal regulatory processes. There are also many obstacles, including lack of support from professional groups and civil servants, to achieving pro-poor reform of standards and regulations. However, there is evidence from countries such as Kenya where standards have been drastically revised to make compliance more affordable and accessible to poor people, that they can result in a significant improvement in the physical, human, social, natural and financial assets of the urban poor and in helping to reduce their vulnerability. Conventional standards often emphasise over-regulation, sometimes restricting choices and options. A minimum level of regulation would be likely to be more relevant to the needs of the urban poor, focusing on the priorities they themselves have identified and providing principles, case studies and tools.
Paper presented at the Second RGUU International Workshop held at Bourton on Dunsmore, UK, March 2003, 17 pp.