The 2003 United Nations Global Report on Human Settlements estimates that 924 million people, or 31.6% of the world’s urban population, lived in slums in 2001. Although forecasts are difficult, it is generally agreed that this number could greatly increase in coming years in the absence of strong policy interventions. These trends underscore the importance of slum upgrading strategies for addressing the growing problems of urban poverty.
Upgrading projects focus on providing basic services to improve the well-being of low income communities, including a range of infrastructure interventions frequently undertaken in conjunction with social interventions, such as the regularization of areas with insecure tenure. Other infrastructure improvements include water, sanitation, waste collection, housing, access roads, footpaths, storm drainage, lighting, public telephones, schools, health posts and community centers. Social improvements can include better provision of health and education services, day care, training, and social protection programs. With the projected increases in slum population, the demand for urban upgrading interventions is expected to grow.