The 5A’s Principles of Adequate Housing

A comparative research on housing justice between Bangladesh and the Philippines

The provision of adequate housing to low-income communities in informal settlements and resettlement sites is a complex and multidimensional process, often driven by political, social, and economic interests which not always align with the real housing needs of affected communities. The legal and regulatory framework of the housing ecosystem also contributes to realizing (or not) adequate housing. Therefore, access to adequate housing remains a global challenge, manifesting itself in a vicious cycle of poor housing governance, inequality, and injustice in the production and distribution of housing opportunities. 

Key words: housing justice, housing rights, adequate housing, comparative housing research. 

This new research collaboration under the LDE Global Support Programme brings together several urban professionals interested in defining and operationalizing the notion of justice in housing policy approaches. For that purpose, two case studies, namely an informal settlement in Khulna, Bangladesh and a resettlement site in Calauan, the Phillipines, have been selected for a comparative exploratory study. In order to compare housing adequacy in both cases, the common methodological approach taken was to apply the analytical framework of the 5 A’s principles of adequate housing to investigate the perception that affected communities have of their housing adequacy. The 5A’s principles are availability, accessibility, affordability, acceptability and adaptability. 

Housing adequacy and justice

The starting point of this research is a genuine interest in defining housing adequacy through the lens of justice. Socio-spatial justice in housing is concerned with the universal realization of housing as a basic need and a human right. Such right should be equitably distributed across space and income brackets to ensure equal access to urban infrastructure and opportunities for the improvement of people’s wellbeing. The realization of housing rights also means that people must be provided with adequacy in terms of available and affordable housing options in the right locations; affordability and accessibility of the housing and corresponding basic and social services, including access to legal protection and gainful sources of livelihoods; and cultural acceptability and adaptability of housing to changing housing needs and to environmental challenges posed by climate change.

Research’s goal

FGD in resettlement site Southville 7, Calauan, the Philippines

The main goal of the research is to define housing justice (or injustice) in housing policy making, its process of implementation and the housing outcomes post implementation, Therefore the research aims to develop a common strategy and methodology for assessing housing policy approaches by conducting a comparative housing justice study which cuts across several disciplines, namely urban management, urban planning, urban sociology, geography, architecture, and law. 

The aspired output of the project is to co-produce a research tool and methodology that help on assessing the adequacy of housing policy approaches through the lens of the 5A’s principles of adequate housing. This can be used for the formulation of housing policies, in reviewing housing policy implementation and outcomes, and ultimately in contributing to the domestication of housing rights as a legitimate pathway toward the realization of housing justice. 

Partners and work methodology

The research team is made of seven members from the Faculty of Governance and Global affairs, Leiden University; the Faculty of Architecture, Management of the Built Environment, TU-Delft; the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies (IHS), Erasmus University Rotterdam; Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines; and the Architecture Discipline, Khulna University  in Bangladesh.

FGD in Khulna, Bangladesh

Two one-week workshops have been implemented in Philippines and Bangladesh respectively to discuss and develop further the understanding of housing justice, and the value of using the 5A’s Principles of Adequate Housing analytical framework to collect relevant data. Site visits to the chosen case studies in the Philippines and in Bangladesh included a workshop with the community in the form of Focus Group Discussions under each one of the 5A’s Principles of Adequate Housing. 

The main objective of this data gathering exercise was to explore affected communities’ perception and understanding of the different aspects of housing adequacy by using a questionnaire to guide discussions.  The exercise also included a pictorial representation of their vision on adequate housing. Both explorations yield important information on what affected communities aspire regarding housing adequacy for both the household (the house-unit) and the community level (the neighbourhood).

Next steps

The next step on the research project is the implementation of a workshop in the Rotterdam and Delft, to present the preliminary findings to a wider audience of professionals interested in the theme. This includes presentation of the case studies, reflections on housing justice and housing adequacy by comparing the data collected in the two case studies, and the assessment of the 5 A’s analytical framework as a tool to investigate and compare processes of housing justice (or injustice) in housing policy making and implementation.

Written by A. Ayala

FGD in resettlement site Southville 7, Calauan, the Philippines
FGD in Khulna, Bangladesh
Greenland Informal Settlement, Khulna, Bangladesh
FGD in Khulna, Bangladesh

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