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University of Buenos Aires – The "Compass" of urban-housing planning

By on August 30, 2016
University of Buenos Aires

Contact name and title
Fernando Murillo. Doctor. Director of Research Programme


Title of activity
The "Compass" of urban-housing planning

Description of activity
The “Compass” of urban planning is a participatory methodology for policy making seeking progressive fulfillment of human rights. The targets are underprivileged communities living in informal settlements in the global south. It consists of different indicators represented graphically as a “diamond”, combining four axes: Human rights fulfillment, community organization, public works and regulatory frameworks. Each of these axis measures habitat (land tenure, housing), infrastructure (wat-san), social services (education-health), mobility (public transport) and sustainability (income generation opportunities, disaster risk reduction). The graph summarizes the status of human rights in a certain area, resulting of their social organization, public works and regulatory framework success. This contributes to build up a vision for slum upgrading and prevention through participation of their inhabitants, local governments and private sector. It facilitates quick collection of essential and update information for planning purposes through key informants facilitating the understanding and agreement on the most convenient way forward to tackle down informal settlements problems and creation trends. So far, the instrument has been applied to 25 municipalities from different countries in Latin America, guiding discussion and actions towards negotiated interventions. A coordination team receives periodically reports from teams applying the method in other cities, providing on line guidance. The paper will present comparative research, identifying trends resulting of applying the methodology in different cities.
Sustainable Development Goal 11 targets relating to activity
11.1 By 2030, ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services and upgrade slums
11.2 By 2030, provide access to safe, affordable, accessible and sustainable transport systems for all, improving road safety, notably by expanding public transport, with special attention to the needs of those in vulnerable situations, women, children, persons with disabilities and older persons
11.3 By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
11.c Support least developed countries, including through financial and technical assistance, in building sustainable and resilient buildings utilizing local materials
Main themes of this activity
Slum Upgrading
Planning and Design

Changes that took place as a result of this activity
Regulatory framework in 6 municipalities complementary of housing expansion and construction and delivery of public spaces were done in Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia. A significant number of researchers and practitioners applied the methodology in different contexts. Inspiration of projects packaging providing on line and field visit for technical support for vulnerable regions and municipalities is an on going service. So far, the methodology has been fully operational in Latin-America and is expanding to the Caribbean and Africa through some university exchanges.
How the impact of the activity was measured
By number of users (registered through the system of technical cooperation of the university with other institutions). On the other hand an observatory created to monitor projects and outputs coming out of the application of the methodology in terms of public works, regulations, community organization results in process of capacity building of municipalities that are assessed regularly. Rather than focusing on "success" the evaluation method search for gaps and opportunities that the application of the methodology produces in different contexts, assessing particular conditions within countries.
Links related to the activity
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjlcTWVxP8U
Additional notes
An active agenda of academic presentations and educational videos were produced with the intention to share the methodology and the progressive reports produced. Technical cooperation in several municipalities also include an strategy for dissemination of results through social media and press articles.