With rising social inequality in China, housing insecurity in informal migrant settlements known as chengzhongcun (urban villages) became a significant issue. In the suburbs of Beijing, former villages are turned into migrants' production sites; in the peri-urban areas of Shanghai, co-renting in the same room has become highly controversial; in Guangzhou, urban villages are becoming a 'thriving' world of their own, lacking basic infrastructure.
Are these migrant settlements slums? According to the operational definition by UN-HABITAT, these settlements can indeed be viewed as slums. How different are they from slums in other developing countries?
The project investigates the dynamics of migrant village formation, examine redevelopment practices and policies, and to identify the scope for progressive upgrading as an alternative approach. The project samples 15 migrant villages in three major cities (Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou) in China and applies qualitative and quantitative methods to identify the housing tenure, socioeconomic profiles, landlords' self construction tactics, migrants' coping strategies, and existing and new institutions as appropriate vehicles for in-situ redevelopment.
The project aims to inform Chinese policy makers and provide learning feedback to the wider international development community, offering new experiences in coping with the 'challenge of slums'.