Prosperity and slums: a dynamic trajectory for positive development

Aisha Abubakar

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Slums and their management are a phenomenon as old as cities. For Developing Region cities, slums present a challenge in maintaining inclusivity and sustainability, which the United Nations considers to be a fundamental human right and essential for fulfilling Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda. On-going slum intervention approaches are inadequate in providing desired outcomes. Limitations involve overcoming negative perceptions with non-inclusive and ineffective approaches, and comprehensively understanding slums’ complex social, spatial, and environmental dynamics. Interestingly, as illustrated in this research, slums and cities are linked through continuously evolving patterns of growth that are demographic and responsive to cities’ structural vitality, which is focused on prosperity. Arguably, unless the general perceptions of slums are clarified, detailed, and given an adequate definition in relation to cities and their development, they will continue to present a challenge. It is necessary to re-conceptualize the way slums are perceived, imagined, and engaged with in a more positive light.
This research recognizes that definitions of slums, just like the strategies employed to address them in cities follow trends. It seeks to provide a comprehensive framework to define any slum as it exists in the city for effective intervention, and to re-formulate slums’ roles, while managing them, in cities’ broader progress through prosperity pursuit. There is potential to streamline slum improvement with that of cities and their prosperity, and for slums to contribute to such urban improvement endeavor when, however, what it means to prosper is clarified and detailed.
The Slum Property Map (SPM) is proposed to provide an organised and rigorous way of comprehensively describing slums and developing a narrative that defines them and their existence in the city. It is developed as a non-exclusive, structured, dynamic framework and a reliable heuristic following on an integrated ontological and cognitive research and expansive literature analysis. The proposed theory for prosperity tries to simplify perceptions of the concept through an analytical synthesis of relevant theories. It shows how our existential pursuits with and within lived spaces through time can provide an operative view and a model for prosperity, highlighting relevant conditions necessary for prosperity in any slum property map. Ultimately, the Slum-Prosperity Framework (SPF) is proposed as an actionable slum intervention framework, with assistive and conceptual tools for stakeholder implementation. It is conceived to help them identify and invest in most effective pathways for improvement and prosperity through streamlined and locally-partnered actions that are flexible, responsive to any slum property map (comprehensively defined slum), and progressive. The SPF demonstrates the potential to augment UN-Habitat’s effort on slum improvement and its advocacy for more creative initiatives that give room for urban complexities. While conceptual and approximate, with relevant expert validation, the SPF provides a robust base for practical advancement, especially with institutional and expert input.
This research is motivated by the researcher’s past experiences regarding slums and set to contribute to proactive and inclusive global urban improvement: for every challenge presented there can emerge novel and creative possibilities for engagement once the details of these challenges are closely examined and understood.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2019
Event1st Doctoral School Multidisciplinary Symposium - University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Jun 2019 → …


Conference1st Doctoral School Multidisciplinary Symposium
Abbreviated titleDSMS
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Period19/06/19 → …


  • prosperity
  • framework
  • development
  • intervention
  • slums


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