Issued on: 13 March 2019


Housing and Slum Upgrading Branch, UN-HABITAT


Home Based with possible travel to Nairobi or select Arab States countries


 Arab States Informal Settlements Issue Paper




Two Months (part-time)


22 March 2019



There are on billion slum dwellers worldwide and it is estimated that an additional 3 billion people will need adequate housing by 2050 as population increases and people continue to move to cities.

Urban population in Arab countries grew by more than four times during the period of 1970 to 2010[1]. As of 2010, the Arab population was estimated at 357 million people, 56 per cent of whom live in cities. By 2030, it is expected to increase to 487 million people, 63 per cent of whom will live in cities and margins. Therefore, achieving sustainable development is vital to accommodate rapid urbanization in a positive manner.

In the Arab region, the proportion of sub-standard housing varies from country to country. In some countries, informal settlement and slum dwellings form isolated, marginalized pockets, while in others from 67 to 94 per cent of urban residents live under one or more housing deprivations. In some Gulf countries, for instance, housing conditions of low-income migrant workers are often very poor compared to the rest of the urban population.

Affordable and decent housing is a major challenge throughout the region, including in the Gulf States. In countries that have experienced continued conflict, high rates of poverty and pervasive political instability such as Libya, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Comoros, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq - these demographic trends have translated into pervasive slums, which comprise 50 to 95 per cent of total urbanization[2].

States of Arab Cities 2012 report indicates that the proliferation of slums and peri-urban informal settlements is the result of a scarcity of serviced land and affordable housing options.  Slums in the region include older, deteriorated buildings within the urban fabric and, particularly in the Southern Tier, newly-constructed housing that is not durable and lacks most services. There is also type of informal settlements, which are mostly constructed of durable materials, often as multi-story buildings on former agricultural land, and their informality is generally the result of their unplanned nature and lack of registered titles. Their residents typically lack waterborne sewerage but, overall, have access to potable water, electricity and some form of sanitation. These settlements attract middle-class families, with wage earners in professional or managerial occupations in the public and private sectors. Challenges in informal settlements are also exuberated with refugee influx, continued large number of internally displaced people (IDP) and effect of climate change.

To address some of this challenge and promote sustainable urbanization, the League of Arab States in cooperation with UN-Habitat has developed the Arab Strategy for Housing and Sustainable Urban Development 2030, which has two strategic objectives; i) ensuring access to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, and prosperous living for all, ii) ensuring equity and social integration. UN-Habitat Regional Office for Arab States is the main partner for the Arab States in the implementation of this strategy.

Both objectives will not be substantially achieved without rigorously addressing challenges of informal settlements issues in the region.

The objective of this paper is thus to undertake a rapid research study to analyse informal settlements issues in Arab region based on existing and published documents, ongoing programmes such Egypt, Tunisia, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Libya, Syria, Morocco, and identify areas of action that would require UN-Habitat support to member states.  The paper will guide UN-Habitat on developing and programming a participatory informal settlement upgrading/urban regeneration programmes to support the Arab States in building capacity, policy and legislation assessment and review, knowledge development and sharing to deliver effectively informal settlements upgrading/ urban regeneration, and build inter regional cooperation. 

The consultancy will be in the Slum Upgrading Unit of the Housing and Slum Upgrading Branch and work closely with UN-Habitat Regional Office for Arab States (ROAS). S/he will be directly supervised by Regional Programme Advisor and Unit Leader of Slum Upgrading Unit in cooperation with ROAS.


1) To analyse and document the situation of informal settlements in Arab States including experience of current and past upgrading programmes in selected countries with a focus on lessons learnt for city wide and or national upscaling.

2) To identify key bottlenecks and suggest areas of interventions for UN-Habitat to support member states in Arab States to achieve inclusive urbanization and reporting on Sustainable Development Goal 11, Target 1.


  • Professionalism: Knowledge and understanding of theories, concepts and approaches relevant to particular sector, functional area or other specialized fields.  Ability to identify issues, analyze and participate in the resolution of issues or problems. Ability to conduct data collection using various methods. Conceptual analytical and evaluative skills to conduct independent research and analysis, including familiarity with and experience in the use of various research sources, including electronic sources on the internet, intranet and other databases.  Ability to apply judgment in the context of assignments given, plan own work and manage conflicting priorities.  Shows pride in work and in achievements; demonstrates professional competence and mastery of subject matter; is conscientious and efficient in meeting commitments, observing deadlines and achieving results; is motivated by professional rather than personal concerns; shows persistence when faced with difficult problems or challenges; remains calm in stressful situations. Takes responsibility for incorporating gender perspectives and ensuring the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work.
  • Teamwork: Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings.
  • Planning &Organizing: Develops clear goals that are consistent with agreed strategies; identifies priority activities and assignments; adjusts priorities as required; allocates appropriate amount of time and resources for completing work; foresees risks and allows for contingencies when planning; monitors and adjusts plans and actions as necessary; uses time efficiently.


A Master’s Degree in Urban Development and Planning or related fields or advanced degree in related field. Relevant experience in lieu of an advanced degree is acceptable. 


  1. Seven years of experience with a combination of research and practical experience related to issues of informal settlements upgrading including land tenure, service and infrastructure development, affordable housing development, and community development and strategic planning is required.
  2. Experience with UN-Habitat’s principles, particularly on the participatory slum upgrading and experience in informal settlements upgrading in Arab States is required,
  3. Programme development and design, research skills to analyze data and information critically and identify and document key issues related to the informal settlements upgrading is a must.
  4. Background on urban planning and participatory urban development is an asset.
  5. Ability to prioritize activities and assignments 


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this consultancy, fluency in oral and written English is required. Although not a requirement, proficiency of another UN language particularly Arabic is an advantage. 


The consultancy will be for a month over two months from the day of the contract starts but not later than May 2019, with key milestones provided in the calendar of activities and be based on a lump sum as per outputs


Applications should include:

·      Cover memo (maximum 1 page)

·      P11, indicating the following information:

1.      Educational Background (incl. dates)

2.      Professional Experience (assignments, tasks, achievements, duration by years/ months)

3.      Other Experience and Expertise (e.g. Internships/ voluntary work, etc.)

4.      Expertise and preferences regarding location of potential assignments 

All applications should be submitted to: 

Deadline for applications: 22 March 2019

UN-HABITAT does not charge a fee at any stage of the recruitment process. If you have any questions concerning persons or companies claiming to be recruiting on behalf of these offices and requesting the payment of a fee, please contact:


[2] States of Arab Cities 2012 - Challenges of Urban Transition, UN-Habitat