From Slum to Suburb
In a large-scale low-cost housing program, Guyana's government wants to tackle its country's housing crisis by upgrading its informal settlements and participatory resettlement of slum dwellers. The Participatory Slum Upgrading Program (PSUP) of UN-Habitat is to support them in their efforts.
by Kirsten Milhahn (Text and Photos).
As the white government jeep turns into the gate of the newly built housing estate with the promising name Prospect, Tiffany Salmon becomes restless in the back of the car. Nervously, she is rubbing the tip of her right thumb against the palm of her left hand. She can hardly wait to see her new home with the small plot of land she will be moving into with her son in a couple of weeks.
Tiffany Salmon, 26, single mother of a nine years old son, lives on Broad Street, one of numerous informal settlements that have sprung up across Guyanas’ capital Georgetown, where the government has struggled to tackle a chronic housing crisis. An ambitious relocation and upgrading program, initiated by the Ministry of Communities, Central Housing and Planning Authorities and Food for the Poor in Georgetown, should address the situation. Therefore, the Guyanese government has brought UN-Habitat on board. The Participatory Slum Upgrading Program (PSUP) is supposed to help to develop a national strategy for informal settlements upgrading that would provide guidance and strategic direction on how the government will address this topic in Guyana holistically.
Thousands of people in the informal settlements of Georgetown live in extremely poor conditions. Tiffany Salmon is one of them. With her mother and sister, she lives in a deteriorated wooden hut on Broad Street in a single room that is less than 10 square metres in size. Broad Street lacks, like many of the informal settlements in Georgetown, basic amenities such as toilets, sanitation facilities and clean drinking water. The small aisles between the huts are flooded in the rainy season. Mosquitoes, rats, drugs and security issues make peoples life miserable. But this will soon change. Two dozen families with small children will make the start. By way of a lottery these families received a wooden house in Prospect, a settlement, newly built by the government in the suburbs of Georgetown to try a new start in life - in a new environment, in a new, more peaceful, more heterogeneous community, which should provide social control and security. Prospect comprises of 20 wooden houses, all equipped with two rooms, bathroom with toilet, running water, electricity and a small garden behind the house. In addition to the wooden houses, there are about two dozen pastel-colored stone houses for sale at subsidized prices for low-income families.