The Challenge of Squatters : An Assessment of Housing Provision in the Philippines in the Context of Decentralisation
Studenteropgave: Efter- og Videreuddannelse (Master): Afgangsprojekt
- Pernille Hattmann Olesen
Abstract This thesis takes a point of departure in the rising problem of slum dwellers in world. It is estimated that 1 billion people live as slum dwellers today and that this number, if not addressed, will rise to 3 billion in 2050. The problem is especially prevalent in Asia, which accounts for 60 percent of the world’s total slum population. This study seeks to assess Philippine development effort in providing adequate and legal housing for slum dwellers and squatters, who constitute approximately 44 percent of the urban population. Within the debate of housing provision there has been an increasing attention towards state withdrawal and decentralisation of responsibilities. Furthermore, the debate has focussed on deregulation and the involvement of the private sector in housing for the urban poor. There are, however, others in the debate that point to a lack of resources and management locally. Furthermore, scholars argue that the private sector is not suitable to take on the responsibility of socialised housing, as its main focus is on profits, thus making socialised housing unattainable for squatters and slum dwellers. The study positions Philippine housing provision with in this debate. Furthermore, there has been a growing literature on participatory practices and the involvement of civil society in promoting adequate and legal housing for slum dwellers. Increasingly, the involvement of civil society is seen as an important component in furthering local governance and housing initiatives. Thus, this study also seeks to assess civil society’s mandate in local governance and its ability to further housing initiatives in the Philippines. In 1991, after overthrowing the dictatorship of the Marcos regime, the Philippines initiated a decentralisation process through the Local Government Code in which it devolved housing responsibilities to local government units and focussed to a greater extend on private sector involvement in housing. The analysis concludes that the Philippine government has not devolved enough resources to local government units, and that while Community Mortgage Programs have been successful, funding, land administration and high land prices have prevented their implementation on a larger scale. The study further concludes that while government has sought to implement private investments in socialised housing this has not proven successful because socialised housing programs have not suited private investments and because regulations have not been enforced. The study argues though, that the Urban Development and housing Act, under the Local Government Code, has promoted squatters rights, in terms of fewer evictions without adequate compensation or relocation. Furthermore, participation in slum upgrading efforts is increasingly part of housing programs. The analysis of civil society participation concludes that the Philippines have a very active civil society and that the Local Government Code has sought to promote its participation in local governance. It, nevertheless, argues that it has not been fully implemented in terms of securing participation and transparency in decision-making processes in most local governments, which means that it may be difficult for civil society to promote pro-poor initiatives that will further socialised housing. The analysis suggests that additional legislation should be made to secure its implementation. Ultimately the analysis argues that there is a gap between the legal and institutional framework, and how it is being implemented on the ground.