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Mentoring on Upgrading Informal Settlements

Mentoring on Upgrading Informal Settlements

The Initiative applies practical experiences from São Paulo housing policies to Durban, as the two cities have been exposed to accelerated urban growth which has led to informal settlements. It also offers lessons for African cities aiming to move from a delivery approach to integrated solutions.

About the initiative


This Metropolis Initiative, led by Durban, São Paulo, and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), was identified and designed by following up on a learning event run by UCLG and Metropolis in Durban, where the history of service and housing in informal areas in São Paulo and other Brazilian cities was highlighted as a relevant experience for African cities.

Durban wants to learn more from São Paulo about the following topics:

  • What planning tools are applied in the prioritization and upgrading of settlements
  • What strategies the cities use to acquire suitable land
  • What financing methods are applied
  • The planning and building standards used
  • How communities are involved in planning, development, and management throughout the project cycle
  • How projects are linked to job-creation initiatives

The São Paulo/Durban city-to-city learning exchange draws on the UCLG mentoring program methodology framework, driven by its Strategic Planning Commission. The program has proved to be very beneficial, allowing the sharing of experiences and lessons learnt, both negative and positive.

The project builds on the two cities’ strong commitment and is expected to serve as a pilot experience for the current reform process of South African and African housing policies. Adequate housing is considered crucial for poverty reduction, but only integrated responses that include social services, local economic development, and empowerment can be sustainable.

A feasibility assessment will be undertaken to test whether the lessons learnt can be piloted in one or more of the Durban-managed informal settlements.





  • 28/11/2013

    From 19 to 21 November and for the third year in a row, Barcelona hosted the Smart City Expo Congress. As a regular collaborator with the congress, Metropolis was actively involved via its stand and in the meeting presentations: Secretary General Alain Le Saux acted as a round table moderator for the session “Governance for Smart Economic Development”, while Country Director for India, Sunil Dubey, moderated the session “Rethinking Cities: Sustainable Cities”.



Project Management

Durban Municipality

São Paulo Municipality

UCLG – United Cities and Local Governments



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