The Baan Mankong Community Upgrading Program was launched by the Thai government in January 2003, as part of its efforts to address the housing problems of the country’s poorest urban citizens. The program channels government funds, in the form of extremely flexible infrastructure subsidies and soft housing and land loans, directly to poor communities, which collectively plan and carry out improvements to their housing, environment, basic services and tenure security, using budgets which they manage themselves. Instead of delivering housing units to individual poor families or bringing in a few standardized infrastructural improvements, the Baan Mankong Program (which means “Secure housing” in Thai) puts Thailand’s slum communities (and their community networks) at the center of a process of developing long-term, comprehensive solutions to problems of land and housing in Thai cities. Under this unconventional program, which is being implemented by the Community Organizations Development Institute (a public organization under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security), poor communities develop their upgrading plans in close collaboration with their local governments, professionals, universities and NGOs.
Besides new houses and infrastructure in the community, the canal is also getting a face lift and a brand-new, tree-lined, 6-meter lane along its edge, built partly on the swampy edges where houses used to perch, and partly on land reclaimed by the District Authorities in the canal. This new canal-side walkway will provide access to the communities along the canal and enable fire-trucks to enter the slum in an emergency. Though it will be open to motorbikes and cycles, the community people see this walkway as an important pedestrian amenity, providing space for children to play, people to visit and vending carts to sell their food and wares.
Download the pdf (2.5mb) here (via the Asian Coalition for Housing Rights).