World Habitat Day 2014: Voices from slums

​On World Habitat Day, read about the importance of working directly with the community in a short piece by UNOPS Haiti-Washington Housing and Urban Planning Advisor, Adriana Navarro-Sertich.


Listening is an essential part of working in development. Meaningful work must go beyond solely following construction methods or project management practices to fully understanding and incorporating the needs of the local community. The importance of participatory planning cannot be overstated – it plays a central role in the project process.

Directly working with communities is essential in order to fully understand its culture, values and socio-economic realities and avoid imposing foreign standards on them. This means taking the necessary time and resources to listen to and assess the internal voice of a community. Only then can a project appropriately address the needs and politics of its place.

In slums – existing in the informal city – choices are limited. We need to address the realities of everyday life, and focus on the cultural attitudes and socio-political dynamics contributing to the conditions that often surround urban informality.

UNOPS seeks to address these issues by working directly with the community and enabling strong local participation throughout the project cycle, and in related areas such as governance. This approach contributes to the creation of context-specific solutions that are truly sustainable, incorporated smoothly and securely into the fabric of the community.

See our photo essay from the 16/6 project in Haiti