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About 163 Million Latin Americans will Live in Precarious Housing in 2020

The high levels of urbanization and poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean indicate that by 2020 approximately 163 million people will be living in precarious housing or slum dwellings, according to an ECLAC report.

The document is part of the project “Work Meeting on Urban Poverty and the Possibility of Financing Projects on Irregular Human Settlements and Conditional Transfer Programmes”, carried out with the support of the Andean Development Corporation (CAF).

A slum dwelling is defined as a housing unit of irregular tenure, inadequate access to basic services, bad structural quality and usually crowded.

The objective of the project, says its coordinator Rodrigo Martínez, Regional Advisor of ECLAC’s Social Development Division, was to analyse problems in property certification, access to public utilities such as potable water, sanitation, electricity and housing quality, and schemes to finance housing and habitat programmes.

“In our conclusions we note that the low-income population has limited access to the formal financial system composed of banks and financial institutions. Micro-credit is usually provided for production-related objectives, not for housing improvement,” he said.

The document “Poverty and Urban Precariousness in Latin America. Current Situation and Financing for Policies and Programmes”, published as a result of the project, reports that over 80% of the urban population in the region has access to potable water and more than 90% to electricity. However, in terms of basic sanitation and sewage systems, the percentage ranges between 15% and 93%.

In the report, ECLAC sets forth recommendations to deal with housing precariousness and urban development.