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Aided self-help: the Million Houses Programme - revisiting the issues

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journal contribution
posted on 28.04.2010, 12:00 by Sharadbala Joshi, M. Sohail (Khan)
The self-help approach to housing aims at creating an enabling environment. An environment in which occupants of a piece of land, especially the poor, build their affordable houses fulfilling their current needs and progressively expand and/or improve the house to meet their changing needs. The Million Houses Programme in Sri Lanka ‘aided’ self-help incorporated participation in decisionmaking, support for planning, design, construction, and financing. The project further expanded to enhance skills of settlement residents for taking-up community contracts for construction of community assets. Currently when relocation of slum dwellers in built-housing is becoming the preferred option, this article very briefly revisited the lessons learnt and the lessons that could still be learned from the experience of the Million Houses Programme and of the ‘People’s Process’. It argues that an ‘enabling environment’ for increasing access to housing involves multi-pronged support through facilitators. The experience of the Million Houses Programme offer insights, even now, into effective strategies for aided self-help housing.



  • Architecture, Building and Civil Engineering

Research Unit

  • Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC)


JOSHI, S. and SOHAIL KHAN, M., 2009. Aided self-help: the Million Houses Programme - revisiting the issues. Habitat International, 34 (3), pp.306-314.


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This article was accepted for publication in the journal Habitat International [© Elsevier] and the definitive version can be found at: