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Michigan State University (1997)

The coevolution of low-income housing in contemporary Tunisia

Manhart, Andrew

Titre : The coevolution of low-income housing in contemporary Tunisia

Auteur : Manhart, Andrew

Etablissement de soutenance : Michigan State University

Grade : Master of Urban and Regional Planning/Urban Studies 1997

This paper addresses the complex mutual interaction between people and their built environment in contemporary Tunisian low-income settlements. Increasingly, this relationship is difficult to explain solely through the traditional development paradigm of modernization. Instead, it is framed by considering the process being in “coevolution, ” which is described by resource economist Richard Norgaard as “...any feedback process between two evolving systems, ” as well as the shift of the regulatory function from the ecosystem to the sociosystem. This ecosystem is taken as the human settlement pattern, which has rapidly shifted fiom the ‘use’ value of traditional settlements to a commodified land-use market. From this perspective, the study of the low income housing market level serves as an entry point to examine larger questions of urban land management and environmental planning in cities ofthe developing world. The nature, extent, and combination of environmental problems found in any urban area is clearly influenced by the general level of development of the country concerned. As the most recent government intervention, the paper centers on the transitional periodfrom 1988-93, during which USAID Housing Guaranty Site and Services subproject 00482 was implemented. Conclusions reached fi’om analysis of HGOO4BZ are contrasted with NGO alternate approaches to shelter delivery in Tunisia. This shows that housing itself is neither the problem nor the solution, but part of a larger coevolutionary process in society. In all societies, sectoral interventions to assist low-income groups are often characterized with a certain amount of ambivalence or contradiction. Identifying these contradictions is necessary to understanding the potential for change and the possibility ofexpanded opportunitiesfor these groups in a rapidly changing housing market. These implications will be put in the context of a shift in World Bank policies for the 1990s. This provides the framework to consider alternatives within the context of what has been termed the “new urban agendas ” that have emerged within recent years. These center on interventions requiring local participation within competent and efi’ective local institutions. This implies that the idea of best interest, as perceived by local communities, should be balanced by the best interests of society at large, which is represented by the state. During the period ofstate formation in Tunisia, this balance was towards the interests ofthe state. In the future, it is in the interest ofthe state to transfer more ofthese responsibilities to the local level.


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