What To Do About Slums?
W12-3: Slum development models and strategies tend to assume a needs-based outlook, focusing on what specific slums lack. In this paper, the author argues instead for an asset-based approach to slum development, employing insights from the seminal work of Kretzmann and McNight, which rests on the idea that physical, social, human, and other assets can all be brought to bear to improve slums. The author engages at a theoretical level the possible uses of land policy, regulation, transfers, taxation, and other specific strategies to promote an asset-based approach to slum development, and then employs the example of the slum of Nima in Ghana to illustrate how an asset-based approach to slum development might work in practice. He argues that the shift to an asset-based approach can produce positive neighborhood effects, enable slums to overcome negative perceptions, and generate additional support for slum redevelopment efforts while seeking to encourage slum dwellers to take co-responsibility for improving their welfare. From this standpoint, the conception of slums as assets is not only part of the process of creating enabling conditions in slums, it is also a diagnostic and analytical framework for identifying effective entry points in slum development programs.