Exploring Lessons Learned from Decades of Slum Upgrading in Brazil

A new publication analyses the different slum upgrading approaches that were undertaken in Brazil over the past decades, evaluates what worked, what didn’t, and why.

Over the past four decades Brazil has become one of the most urbanised countries in the world, with more than 80 percent of Brazilians living in cities.
Throughout this period of rapid transition, Brazil’s cities and the national government have tested many different policies and approaches to slum upgrading, with varying degrees of success.
These experiences are explored in Slum Upgrading: Lessons Learned from Brazil, a new publication that analyses the different slum upgrading approaches that were undertaken in Brazil, evaluates what worked, what didn’t, and why.  The book was launched 5 September by Fernanda Magalhaes of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), principal author of the report.
Written mainly for urban development professionals and decision makers involved in policy and programme design, Slum Upgrading disseminates useful lessons learned from urban development and favela urbanisation operations in Brazil financed by the Brazilian Government and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the main source of multilateral financing for slum upgrading in Latin America, over the past ten years at the federal, state and municipal levels.
Slum Upgrading does not provide guidelines for a successful slum upgrading approach; rather, it considers what was important in the decision making process that enabled results to be achieved. It offers a practical analysis of the evolution of the project cycle, enabling a better understanding of the key stages of the design and execution process, its main players, and the impact of observed institutional and political conditions.


The concept of programme integration in slum upgrading features prominently throughout the book. It also highlights the importance of a multi-sector approach that links the physical aspect of upgrading to social and economic dimensions, including health care, education and economic development.
The experience of Brazil, both positive and negative, offers tremendous lessons for African countries that are at the beginning of the urbanisation process. They also provide valuable source of knowledge for the government of Brazil as it moves forward with the massive Growth Acceleration Programme (PAC), a strategic investment initiative that comprises thousands of infrastructure projects, including slum upgrading.
The idea for the publication was developed through collaboration among the IDB, the Cities Alliance, the Brazilian Ministry of Cities, and the Caixa Econômica Federal, which formed a partnership for the purpose of consolidating operational knowledge. Mariana Kara Jose, the Cities Alliance’s regional representative in Brazil, managed our contributions to the publication, and the Alliance also hosted the book launch at the sixth World Urban Forum in Naples.