The International Handbook on Social Innovation
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The International Handbook on Social Innovation

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Edited by Frank Moulaert, Diana MacCallum, Abid Mehmood and Abdelillah Hamdouch

The contributors provide an overview of theoretical perspectives, methodologies and instructive experiences from all continents, as well as implications for collective action and policy. They argue strongly for social innovation as a key to human development. The Handbook defines social innovation as innovation in social relations within both micro and macro spheres, with the purpose of satisfying unmet or new human needs across different layers of society. It connects social innovation to empowerment dynamics, thus giving a political character to social movements and bottom-up governance initiatives. Together these should lay the foundations for a fairer, more democratic society for all.
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Chapter 15: Venturing off the beaten path: social innovation and settlement upgrading in Voi, Kenya

Collective Action, Social Learning and Transdisciplinary Research

Emmanuel Midheme


Access to land in Kenyan towns is severely constrained by supply (Yahya 2002; Bassett 2005). The official land delivery processes premised on conventional state and market mechanisms have proved inadequate in coping with the demands imposed by rapid urbanization (Midheme 2010). The result has been a steady proliferation of informal settlements in major towns, particularly as poor households seek alternative spaces for housing and livelihood opportunities. Meanwhile, policy makers are confronted with the twin challenge of improving the quality of housing already existing within informal settlements and expanding access to land and housing for those without it. Accordingly, informal settlements upgrading has been advocated as one way of improving both the quality and quantity of the urban housing stock (Bassett 2005). It has been claimed for example that settlement upgrading, particularly where it adopts the ‘assisted self-help’ model, ‘is the most affordable and intelligent way of providing sustainable shelter for the urban poor’ (UN-Habitat 2005, p. 166).

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