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When is an informal settlement no longer an informal settlement?

Learning brief 15

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Ronald Eglin, Mduduzi Ntongana

01 April 2024


Ronald Eglin

Policy brief


South Africa

The concept of ‘upgrading of informal settlements’ has been around for a long time. One question, however, that has not received much attention is, “When is an informal settlement no longer an informal settlement?” In other words, when can one claim that an informal settlement has been upgraded?


In this Learning Brief, the proposed answer to this question is when it becomes a 'semi-formal settlement'. This answer is derived from seeing the upgrading of informal settlements as a process of incremental development. When an informal settlement is being upgraded, it does not suddenly jump from being an informal settlement to a fully upgraded settlement; but rather follows a step-by-step incremental process of being improved over time.


Abstract based directly on original source.


Website References

Built environment

Government subsidies


Human settlements

Incremental housing

Informal settlement upgrading


Land rights

Land use planning


Poverty & inequality


Settlement upgrading

South Africa

Spatial planning



Water and sanitation

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