Live and Work Together: Upgrading Urban Poor Housing in Khon Kaen Municipality

Khon Kaen is Thailand's fourth largest city with an urban population of 1.8 millions. The city has played important roles to the northeastern region of Thailand, particularly in health care facilities, educational center, and has been developing as logistic hub of Greater Mekong Region (GMS) countries, which resulted from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) Strategic Plan in providing transportation linkage between the countries. Because of recent urban growth, the core area of Khon Kaen has expanded and demanded for more labor to support new developments. As a result a large number of rural population have continuously migrated to the urban area for working in both formal and informal sectors. Many lead lives in slums without public service facilities, which are considered as unhealthy living environments.
An experience of the project "Secured Housing (Baan Mankong)" under the support of a public organization--Community Organization Development Institute (CODI) will be the center of the discussion in this paper. The project has focused on the community-driven process to work from a fundamental level in order to improve the living conditions of the low-income group. The idea of community and city housing has been established by community participation from the beginning of the survey process to decision-making of community development plan. Then, a collaborative process with municipal governments and with other organizations concerned has jointly developed a plan that allows communities to be developed with government finance and support.
With a total number of poor and informal communities with 65 settlements
(19,539 households)*, The low-income population of Khon Kaen city has unquestionably driven parts of its economy sector. Those who work in the service sector such as laborers, retail vendors, recyclable waste collectors and pedicab (Samlor) drivers provide the labor, the energy and the life to make the city function. In 2004 Khon Kaen has been upgrading 3 pilot low-income communities (303 households). The community participatory process to upgrade their houses has involved dwellers, architects and planners and local authorities following the goal "Healthy City..Livable Community" and secured housing for living with others who work in different sectors in the urban structure.

 

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