The methods, impacts, and need for youth involvement in the planning process of upgrading informal settlements
MetadataShow full item record
Youth in informal settlements are highly vulnerable to poverty, environmental hazards and disasters, and a range of health risks. Yet young residents in these communities are also one of the least represented populations in planning and community development processes. This report seeks to answer how planners can design participatory processes for informal settlement upgrading projects that involve youth in meaningful ways in ongoing community development. Insights from past research from informal settlements across the western hemisphere are used to delineate the critical role youth can play in engaging in community building projects and communicating critical needs to the broader community and to public officials. Additionally, I develop a case study of young residents launching a youth organization in an informal settlement in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. In this case, performative ethnography was used as a key outreach tool that provided insights about what planners need to understand about youth and their motivations in order to engage them in community development projects. The review and case study also detail the potential benefits of bringing youth perspectives into the planning and decision making process for upgrading projects in informal communities. The youth engagement process in the Los Platanitos project illustrates that that art and performativity were a successful means of drawing youth together and were a powerful tool that allowed young residents to articulate their visions for the future of their community and the challenges it currently faced. The project further demonstrated that bringing in outside youth groups to help form the youth organization was critical because Los Platanitos youth had no spaces or prior experiences supporting collective activity. Experienced youth leaders from outside the community were instrumental in helping retain interest within the youth group and in fostering continued participation and activities. Lastly we learned that for youth themselves, organizing and participating in the community planning process gave them a new sense of confidence in their ability to affect their community and expand their own capacities and skills in organizing and goal setting.