Housing development and the role of self-help housing in Vietnamese cities: a case study of Can Tho city
Tuyen, Tran Ngoc
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This research explores how new urban housing has been developed in recent years in a high climate change risk city of Can Tho in Vietnam, with a strong focus on self-help housing process and its role in providing urban housing for the low and middle-income groups. In order to achieve this aim, four objectives were clarified in this thesis, which include: (1)-Exploring why and how does self-help housing happen commonly in Vietnamese cities, and what is the role of self-help housing in urban housing development in Vietnam; (2)-Identifying the main approaches, forms and identities of new urban housing developments in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta Region (VMDR), and what economic, social or environmental problems arise from this; (3)-Finding out to what extent does the legal and administrative framework, land ownership and the practical process of land use change affect housing development in Vietnam; and (4)-Pointing out the major risks in housing development in the VMDR. Firstly, by initially examining the literature on housing development and self-help housing, mostly in relation to the developing countries, the author established the different approaches for housing the urban low and middle-income groups as well as an analytical framework for the research which includes the pros and cons of self-help housing approaches. This conceptual contribution of the research summarises the theory of self-help housing and the self-help approach in urban development in developing countries. The framework provided a firm structure to study self-help housing in Vietnam in this research through the analysis of the Can Tho city case study. Secondly, the contribution of the thesis at the practical level is the provision of lessons from developing countries such as China, Turkey, Thailand and others that Vietnam can learn from (in both positive and negative ways) with reference to various aspects of urban development management, urban design, living condition improvement and environmental protection. Although the thesis did not draw extensively on the lessons from the four developing countries, they did provide general overviews of self-help housing development in developing countries facing similar problems to those of Vietnam. Thirdly, the research investigated the Vietnamese construction industry context, including Vietnam’s planning structure, legislation (including Laws on planning, construction, real estate and housing), which has driven the housing development in Vietnam. The empirical analysis of the case study shows that self-help housing is dominant in housing development in Vietnamese cities in recent years. It plays an important role in housing the low and middle-income groups. This trend will take place in the short and medium term, as the loose regulation in planning and development control and the fact that many people (including government officials) are highly satisfied with this type of housing. However, in the longer term most of the informal housing will arguably be transformed into or replaced by formal housing, as people will recognize both the short and long-term benefit of the formal housing planning and development process. This study reveals that self-help housing, including both the informal and formal self-help, has been successful in providing affordable and flexible housing for the low and middle-income groups in Vietnamese cities. Due to the high level of land accessibility for self-help housing in many Vietnamese cities and the lack of a proper housing finance system to support house buyers, most people prefer to develop their own houses depending on their current financial abilities. The changing of land use purposes which leads to a significant change in land value is also an important factor in driving the growth of self-help housing development in Vietnam. Institutionally, the pro-self-help housing government and a weak urban planning and management system are also part of underlying causes of the enormous development of self-help housing in Vietnamese cities in recent years. This study also gives recommendations towards a pro-active government’s initiatives to strengthen the urban governance in order to archive a fair and transparent environment in housing development in Vietnamese cities for stakeholders, enhance the land use effectiveness and improving the living condition of urban resident in a more sustainable way.