Combining satellite and survey data to study Indian slums: evidence on the range of conditions and implications for urban policy


Journal Article

© 2018 International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Projections suggest that most of the global growth in population in the next few decades will be in urban centres in Asia and Africa. Most of these additional urban residents will be concentrated in slums. However, government documentation of slums is incomplete and unreliable, and many slums remain undocumented. It is necessary to employ creative methods to locate and sample these understudied populations. We used satellite image analysis and fieldwork to build a sample of Indian slums. We show that living conditions vary along a wide-ranging continuum of wellbeing; different points correspond to different policy needs. We also show that most variation in conditions is due to differences across rather than within neighbourhoods. These findings have important implications for urban policy. First, satellite data can be a useful tool to locate undocumented settlements. Second, policy must be appropriately nuanced to respond to wide-ranging needs. Finally, variation patterns suggest that policies should be targeted at the neighbourhood rather than the individual level.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Rains, E; Krishna, A; Wibbels, E

Published Date

  • April 1, 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 31 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 267 - 292

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1746-0301

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0956-2478

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0956247818798744

Citation Source

  • Scopus