3ie ~ International Initiative for Impact Evaluation

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Shelter from the Storm: Upgrading Housing Infrastructure in Latin American Slums

Publication Source

Grantee final report is available here.

Link to Source
Sebastian Galiani, Paul Gertler, Ryan Cooper, Sebastian Martinez, Adam Ross, Raimundo Undurraga
Urban Development, Urban Housing
Latin America and the Caribbean
Gender Focus
Selected Sub-groups
None specified
Evaluation Designs
Difference-in Difference (DID), Randomised Control Trials (RCT)
3ie Final Grantee Report


The nongovernmental organization Un Techo Para Mi Pas (UTPMP) provides prefabricated houses to extremely poor populations living in slums in 14 Latin American countries. This study seeks to evaluate the impact of UTPMP housing on several outcomes.Inadequate housing, a primary characteristic of slum dwellers, is a problem facing 45 per cent of the global urban population. Although the poor living conditions in the world's slums have received international attention as part of the UN Millennium Development Goals, little has been done so far. The study uses a randomised controlled trial in which the eligible population will be randomly assigned to either a treatment or a control group. Because, in the case of UTPMP, budget and personnel constraints limit the number of housing units that can be upgraded at any one time, beneficiaries have been selected through a lottery system. Out of 1,200 households surveyed, 400 will be randomly assigned to a treatment group, 400 will be assigned to an 'internal' control group of eligible households within the treatment settlements that may be subject to programme spillovers, and 400 will constitute a 'pure control' group of eligible households outside the treatment settlements. Multivariate regressions will be used to measure overall programme impact and spillover effects. A baseline survey and a follow-up survey of the same households 18 months later will collect information on household demographic structure and socioeconomic status as well as economic activities, child health outcomes, happiness and mental health outcomes and safety.The data will be reanalyzed using difference-in-difference methods to test the robustness of the analysis. This approach compares the change in outcomes for households and household members in the treatment group before and after the intervention to the change for the control group. It helps to control for both time-invariant and time-varying factors.

About this impact evaluation

Adequate housing, along with food and clothing, is considered by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a basic requirement for achieving a minimum living standard. Yet, inadequate housing, a primary characteristic of slum dwellers, is a problem facing 45% of the global urban population.

Despite the importance of housing, there is surprisingly little scientific evidence on the causal effects of housing programs on the welfare of beneficiary populations in low-income countries.

The project will fill this gap by evaluating the impact of providing inexpensive basic pre-fabricated houses to extreme poor populations living in informal slums in Latin America. They work with a NGO, Un Techo Para Mi PaĆ­s (UTPMP), which is a youth-led program that provides such houses to extreme poor populations living in the slums of 14 Latin American countries.

The main objective of the program is to improve household well-being and increase the beneficiary household's probability of exiting extreme poverty. UTPMP targets households in sub-standard housing typically made of materials such as cardboard, tin and plastic, with dirt floors and lacking services such as water and sewage. 

The project proposes to evaluate the impact of UTPMP housing on physical and mental health, socio-economic, and security outcomes and also examine if there are spillovers to non-beneficiaries living in treatment communities.

Website : http://www.untechoparamipais.org/

Read the study findings on TECHO's website 

Read more about the project and study findings here

Watch videos on the slum upgrading project and the impact evaluation by J-PAL