(Secretariat Activity) Technical Assistance to SENAVITAT / Paraguay – social management, low income housing and slum upgrading



Approval Date
Proposal Focus
Core Focus
Secondary Cities
Country Type


Project background and rationale ? What is the context of the project? Paraguay has a population of 6.6 million inhabitants, with an urban population that evolved from 35% to 59% during the period of 1950 – 2012, with the Metropolitan Area of Asuncion being the main recipient area of internal rural – urban migration : Almost 41% of the total population In Paraguay is living in Asuncion city and municipalities from the Central Department. According to World Bank’s classification based on Gross National Income per capita, Paraguay is classified as an upper-middle-income economy ($4,036 TO $12,475), nevertheless according to the World Bank 27% of the population is under the poverty line , while CEPAL/ECLAC regional measures indicates that 36,5% of urban population lives in poverty conditions . On the housing front, there is a qualitative deficit of 1.4 million dwellings with a strong concentration of precariousness among poor and extreme poor households . There is an estimate by UN Habitat on the State of Latin American Cities report that indicates that 20% of the population lives in informal settlements. For Paraguay, poverty and income inequality remain a major challenge. During the period 2010 – 2012 a National Housing Plan was developed (PLANHAVI), and consequently some institutional developments occurred, as for the creation of SENAVITAT, a secretary with ministerial status responsible for policy design and management of housing programmes, basically oriented to housing production with a limited reach towards low and middle income segments , and a social team basically focused on providing information and conflict mediation on an individual basis. In 2013 the number of new housing built by the Federal Government was about 1,244. After 3 years, this increased to a level of 12,000 housing units. According to SENAVITAT, until two years ago, the housing issue was only focused on programs to build new housing units, not considering the social and the project management dimensions as strategic to achieve an integration between all the components of a project. In the Metropolitan Area of Asuncion, there is a major area denominated as Bañados, divided by Sur (South) and Norte (North). This location concentrates a significant number of dwellers living in precarious living conditions and informality of land tenure, being subject to periodic flooding from the Paraguay river. In consequence of climate change, transitory housing movements to higher and flood secure areas are becoming permanent occupations in the historic city centre (now going through a revitalization process, flagship project of current administration, and funded by CAF and BID – the PLANCHA). Currently there are approximately 100,000 inhabitants, or 25,000 families living at the Bañados spread throughout different settlements: Santa Ana, Tacumbú, Bañado Norte and Chacarita, this last one with ca. 5,000 families and being subject of an IADB loan for an infrastructure and social upgrade project (the loan was approved by IADB, but not yet in country, and addresses only partially the settlement). The project itself is based in some key elements for future interventions: the development of the capacity building, humanitarian help during disasters, infrastructure services. SENAVITAT and Paraguay have been explored as potential partner for a wide range of international agencies, such as the World Bank, the IADB, CAF, Government of Korea, GIZ and Chilean Government. These partnerships might generate positive outcomes in terms of promoting the housing sector and the overall urban conditions in Paraguay and in the Metropolitan Area of Asuncion, but they must be accompanied and generate strong institutional development, such as strengthening the capacity of SENAVITAT (human resources, policy making and management flows), legal frameworks, participatory channels and integration with local governments. This is the only way to promote sustainability and generate a legacy that can be further led by stronger institutions at both national and local levels. The request to Cities Alliance assistance was expressed by SENAVITAT, Paraguay to representatives of the Secretariat and some members in several occasions: May/2015 during the 2nd Housing Forum in Monterrey; September/2015 during a mission to Washington DC (Mayors LAC Forum); December/2015 - Expert Group Meeting for the Habitat III Regional Report. In this last occasion, a meeting among some Cities Alliance members, such as Habitat for Humanity International and the Governments of Chile and Brazil took place and the prospective support through a concerted engagement with GIZ (previous cooperation engagements) and BID (current projects) was discussed with focus on slum upgrading and social management component in low income housing policies. Finally, meetings with members followed during missions in 2016: February and April to Asuncion; and May during a World Bank event in Washington DC. As an outcome of these meetings, the technical assistance activity was inserted in the Cities Alliance work plan for LAC in 2016 and presented to members during both LAC Strategy’s consultations (São Paulo and Toluca) in 2016. ? What are the key issues to be addressed? Considering the high qualitative housing deficit, and the number of families living in slums or precarious settlements, especially in the Metropolitan Area of Asunción, there is a clear need for a slum upgrading policy, a concrete programme with a strong social management component, to promote holistic interventions not only in the Metropolitan Area of Asuncion, but at national level as well. The key aspect of this technical assistance is to support SENAVITAT on the preparation of the guidelines for a National Habitat and Housing Policy, under a new participatory governance framework. ? Why is this activity needed? There is no provision for infrastructure investments in slums/informal settlements, no policy and/or programmatic approach that would include a methodology for social management with a collective perspective (rather than interacting and responding to individuals only). On the other hand: 1) Paraguay is only 59% urbanized, and not yet concluded its urbanization process, therefore cities must be prepared to still cope with internal migration flows while in parallel address the existing high vulnerabilities in urban areas and threats from the climate change. According to CEPAL, in 2011 almost 49% of the population is considered in poverty situation and 10% are below poverty line. 2) Research and studies by SENAVITAT in 2002 indicates a housing deficit or approximately 1,100.000 housing units, 80% qualitative. 3) Strong national urban policies might leverage large scale and sustainable interventions at city level. Considering the potential follow-up investments and the relative political stability of the country, a focused technical assistance from Cities Alliance to promote coordination and coherence of efforts might be able to leverage positive impacts in the medium term, considering that this administration/political cycle ends in 2018. ? How different and innovative it is this activity from other or earlier projects on the same issue? Several cooperation activities were undertaken in Paraguay, especially by GIZ and Chilean government, such as (i) methodology for estimation of the housing deficit, (ii) housing plan, (iii) design of the housing subsidies plan, progressive housing and neighbourhood improvements programmes. Also with the IADB, some tentative loans for the redevelopment of the Asuncion Bay did not follow through in the past. Nevertheless, these previous assistances and engagements led to institutional developments and to the evidenced need of addressing the current policy gap represented (i) by the poorest urban segments living in informal settlements, and (ii) also to the strengthening of a housing institution ready for a larger scale and more elaborated policies and programmes. The innovation by this initiative is related to its potential for deeper institutional changes (policies, legal framework, institutional arrangements, programmes) and investments to be potentially leveraged by both international development banks and domestic economic growth.
Promote coordination and coherence of efforts from Cities Alliance members and international development agencies active in Paraguay, transform projects into policies and strengthen the institutional framework in the low income housing sector with the objective of generating more equitable and resilient urban environments, especially in the Metropolitan Area of Asuncion. The main instrument will be a participatory process for the design of a National Habitat and Housing Policy and a participatory governance mechanism, a legacy from the process carried through for the Habitat III (country report).
Cities alliance members and international development agencies and banks have been actively engaged in Paraguay in the last 2 years, this was also leveraged by the positioning of SENAVITAT at the presidency of MINURVI during the period 2015 -16. Some of the main engagements are listed below: - Investments of the IADB for a pilot slum upgrade project in the area called Chacarita Alta. - Habitat for Humanity’s presence in Paraguay, its role in implementing the social component of the Chacarita Alta project, funded by own resources combined with BID/FOMIN grants. For this project Habitat for Humanity is going through a capacity building process with Colombia (City of Medellin and HFHI local affiliate). SENAVITAT’s social team will also benefit from this capacity building process. - Technical cooperation investments from Chile and GIZ for structuring a slum upgrading programme/model with a clear social management methodology. - Technical cooperation with Korean government for sustainable urban development. - Political will from SENAVITAT and potential follow up investments from the Paraguayan government and CAF. Throughout the period 2005 - 2015 GDP growth at the average of 5%, with perspectives for 3% following the performance in 2016. Still above its neighbour countries and the regional average. Local programmes, implemented by SENAVITAT, such as FONAVIS, SEMBRANDO, CHE TAPYL, Housing condominium, FOCEM, FONCOOP and others supported by local funding and/or as part of international cooperation.
Expected Impacts and Results
- Short term high level action plan that will combine previous strategic planning processes to current opportunities and potential projects and investments provided by international agencies and internal political and economic environments. This will be provided through the support for an internal strategic planning by SENAVITAT, design and monitoring. - Capacity building for local teams, with focus on social management linked to low income housing programmes. - Design of a National Habitat and Housing Policy, with a slum upgrading and social components. - Knowledge products, with lessons learned and extracted from this technical assistance process, to be disseminated in the region and at the global level.