Housing in Developing Countries


Yurdanur Dûgleroğlu (contact person)
Department of Architecture
Faculty of Architecture
Istanbul Technical University
Istanbul, Turkey

Claudio Acioly Jr
Housing and Urban Development Expert
International Consultant
Associate Staff, Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies-IHS, Erasmus University

Kosta Mathéy
Global Urban Studies
Berlin, Germany

Gülden Erkut
Urban and Regional Planning
Faculty of Architecture
Istanbul technical University
Istanbul, Turkey

Central theme
Half the world’s population lives in urban areas. Future population growth (more than 80 per cent of it in urban areas) will be concentrated in developing countries. Yet the growth of urbanization in the developing world has not been matched by a commensurate growth in the supply of decent housing. The shortcomings of policy, lack of political will, limitations of housing finance, poor land management in urban areas, lack of security of tenure, and lack of infrastructure and services are just some of the issues that confront citizens and policy-makers in developing countries, and provide a strong theme for research, analysis and action.

Sub themes
We focus on a holistic approach to follow urban issues:

  • Environmental pollution by crowding and intense construction
  • Resource scarcity (financial, economical, etc.)
  • Socio-cultural polarization
  • Homelessness and unaffordability of urban housing
  • Urbanization and globalization dynamics
  • Squatter settlements and gated communities
  • Diversity of needs for urban housing typology
  • Urban transformation to allow renewal of urban housing stock and to offer the residents to get old in their same home environments.

These issues require the integration of resources of the government and private sector; efforts of various disciplines to work together on the possible ways of integrating the conflicting demands on urban land in LDCs for housing and international commercial development to become a world city; and joint research of the scholars, intellectuals and practitioners of housing projects in the housing market constantly providing feedback to each other. Thus liveable cities of the future can be achieved in the urban areas of the developing world which are affected by the crises the most and which needs the integration of projects into policies more urgently than their counterparts in the developed countries for sustainable urban growth and housing development.

Activities and output in recent years
The Conference of ENHR 2017 on the theme of ‘Affordable Housing for All’ took place in Tirana in 2017. Working Group Co-ordinator Kosta Mathey was a keynote speaker for the session Housing as a Human Right vs Housing as a commodity – redefining the roles of public and private sectors. The session was very well attended and the presentation ‘Affordability and Social Housing in the Global South’ is available on the 2017 conference website. The Workshop on Housing in Developing Countries accepted nine abstracts for the conference. Out of these, five authors attended the Conference and presented their papers, with around a dozen participants attending the three workshop sessions. Topics presented included: the right to adequate housing following natural disasters; housing characteristics in less developed areas (Pakistan); communal values in adoption of solar panels (Ghana); changes in Chilean Housing Policy; and strategies for designing new settlements in developing countries. Full papers were also received on Government’s role in affordable housing (Turkey) and Upgrading of informal settlements (South Africa) although the authors were not able to attend for the conference. The number of papers was similar to 2016, and the quality papers by scholars coming from different parts of the world led to good discussions in Tirana. The workshop leaders who were able to attend the 2017 conference were Kosta Mathey and Isobel Anderson, who jointly chaired the Working Group sessions in Tirana.

Co-ordinator Isobel Anderson attended a ‘Global Engagement Meeting’ in Pretoria, South Africa on 5-6 December 2017 which is an opportunity to promote housing and urban issues in the UK’s international collaborative research programme to address the UN Sustainable Development Goals. She met meet with research colleagues in Pretoria and Johannesburg to discuss collaborative research opportunities and participation in the ENHR Working Group.

During 2018-19, the Working Group co-ordinators are undertaking a collaborative project on the New Urban Agenda and Housing Development in Istanbul, funded by the British Academy (Newton Mobility Fund) and led by Professors Gülden Erkut and Isobel Anderson. Team members met in Istanbul, Turkey in April 2018; in Stirling/Glasgow, UK in June 2018; and held a final project meeting planned in Istanbul in February 2019.

Members of the co-ordination team attended the ENHR 2018 conference in Uppsala, Sweden, 26-29 June 2018. Eleven abstracts were accepted for Workshop 11, with nine participants attending the workshop sessions in Uppsala. Papers covered a wide range of topics including: Tools of Government for Housing Development; Affordable housing in Nigeria (two papers); issues on housing development in Turkey (two papers); three papers on housing in China (politicization; high rise living; housing density and price); and informal settlement upgrading in South Africa. The co-ordinators thank all contributors for their presentations and participation in workshop discussions.

Two co-ordinators were also able to attend the MACDES (Built Environment and Sustainable Development) conference in Havana, Cuba in November 2018, presenting on the New Urban Agenda project and building further links with colleagues in Latin America and the Caribbean.

During 2018-19, the Working Group co-ordinators completed their collaborative project on the New Urban Agenda and Housing Development in Istanbul, funded by the British Academy (Newton Mobility Fund) and led by Professors Gülden Erkut and Isobel Anderson. Team members held a final project meeting in Istanbul in February 2019 and a journal article is in preparation.

Members of the co-ordination team (Yurdanur Dûgleroğlu, Kosta Mathey and Isobel Anderson) attended the ENHR 2019 conference in Athens, Greece, 27-30 August. Seven abstracts were accepted for Workshop 9, with three papers delivered in the workshop sessions. These focused on: Mixed-Use Projects as Neoliberal Urbanization’s Tool for Transforming the New City Centre (Turkey); A cross-sectional study on the impact of residential buildings on the residents’ fertility rate and their attitude toward fertility (China); and Health implications of upgrading informal housing settlements (South Africa). The co-ordinators thank all presenters and participants for their contributions to the formal discussions. Space in the programme also allowed for wider reflection and discussion on potential future activities for the group. The co-ordination team recognise the challenges some potential participants face in obtaining visas and funding to attend the ENHR events, even when submitted abstracts are accepted. It was agreed to endeavour to maintain improved communication with participants in the months leading up to the conference in order to plan the workshop sessions more effectively. The group would still seek to encourage abstracts from a wide range of potential participants, and plan to co-ordinate a workshop session at the ENHR Nicosia conference, 29 June-2 July 2020.

2019 also saw the launch of the African Research Network for Urbanization and Habitable Cities, hosted at the Centre for Sustainable Housing and Development, University of Lagos. Co-ordinator Isobel Anderson was a UK partner in the bid for the network, which is funded through the UK Global Challenges Research Fund Partnership Programme for Capacity Building.  

Future plans and activities
Communication across the co-ordination team of the Working Group continues post the ENHR conferences. Activities continue to seek to encourage wider participation in the group; to consider the possibility of jointly editing a themed issue of a journal; and to seek funding opportunities for research collaboration and/or activities outside of the main conference events.

Current international priority to the UN Sustainable Development Goals offers a range of opportunities for research and collaboration which the co-ordinators are pursuing (e.g. UK-Turkey funding possibilities, Co-ordinators Isobel Anderson, Yurdanur Dûgleroğlu and Gülden Erkut). The UN-Habitat Global Sample of Cities (200 cities) confirms that the issue of housing affordability and mechanisms of housing finance remain a critical issue for both ownership and rental sectors (Co-ordinator Claudio Acioly).

The group continues to focus on the centrality of housing to the growth of urbanization in the developing nations, including issues of policy and politics, finance, land management, security of tenure, and lack of infrastructure and services. These are just some of the issues that confront citizens and policy-makers in developing countries, and provide a strong theme for research, analysis and action.

It is with tremendous sorrow that the group received the very sad news of the passing of our fellow co-ordinator, Chris Watson on 10 November 2019. Chris was known to the team from the ENHR founding conference in Gävle, and from the founding of our Working Group in Istanbul. He was a great and active member of the Working Group and one of the longest-standing members of ENHR. Chris was hugely encouraging of colleagues’ research in lower income countries and a great mentor to many. A message of condolence was sent to Chris’ family. He will be hugely missed by all of us.