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NUMERO 20 - 29/10/2014

 For less segregated BRICS-cities: The experiences of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas and Johannesburg’s townships public policies

The cities in the emerging world, especially those in the BRICS countries, share a number of similarities regarding the social and urban configuration of their territories. BRICS cities share a common historical background of a delayed industrialization process accompanied by intense migration of workforce to the periphery of the urban centres, where there was poor access to infrastructure and basic public services to accommodate the intense flow of people. Therefore, the lack of urban planning and an increasing process of slums settlement and expansion have characterized the urban space of most BRICS cities. In addition, the absence of state intervention in the major cities, until the recent past, combined with this historical process of exclusion and peripheral urbanization has drawn an increasing process of intensification of slums in emerging cities. BRICS cities share a paradox in their territories: while the cities must constantly keep their competitive status to attract mega events and foreign investments, the increasing socioeconomic disparities and spatial fragmentation still feature their divided territories. The lack of provision of basic services and the constant violation of human and civil rights in those cities urge for attention. In order to understand the spatial configuration of these cities for urban planning, public policy formulation and an increase in quality of life of citizens in large cities, this article aims to present some experiences of public management of "slums" from the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Johannesburg, South Africa. This is because we believe that the similarities observed in these two cities allow a close exchange of experiences in the development of public policies for the management of slums. In the first section of this article we present some definitions of the concept “slums” as there are several terms used to conceptualize a similar socioeconomic context found in several cities. Subsequently, we offer a brief contextualization of the process of slums expansion in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg as well as the goals and objectives of their government programs targeted at the informal communities of these cities. Therefore, we focus on the Rio+Social Program (former known as UPP Social Programme) in Rio de Janeiro, and the 2040 Joburg Program, in Johannesburg, since these two public policies are priorities in the local political agendas. The goal here is not to make a thorough examination or present a methodology for evaluation of these programs, but rather seek what they have in common and think about how they contribute to the improvement of living conditions in informal communities. Finally, we conclude that the experiences of Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg, seen in perspective, may leave important recommendations for other BRICS-cities, despite the historical, geographical, social and political peculiarities that differentiate them. The main lesson found is that it will only be possible to meet the needs of the informal communities through public policies aimed at the integration of favelas or townships to the formal urban space of their cities. We argue that through a double movement of insertion strategy, ie, a move that starts at the community and its demands (bottom-up) and another in which the State is present for the provision of goods and public services (top-down), it is possible to find out the success of more inclusive social policies and less segregated and unequal BRICS-cities... (segue)

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