Academic journal article Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

Impact of Urban Upgrading on Perception of Safety in Informal Settlements: Case Study of Bouakal Batna

Academic journal article Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

Impact of Urban Upgrading on Perception of Safety in Informal Settlements: Case Study of Bouakal Batna

Article excerpt


Crime and fear of crime has become a major problem faced by a vast majority of countries in the world. Over the past 20 years, there has been an increase in crime rate in many of the world's cities with 100,000 or more inhabitants (Vanderschueren 2000).

In developing countries these are in particular the informal or spontaneous settlements that have often been associated to urban insecurity. The idea that spontaneous settlements like seedbeds in which "delinquents" carry on their activities has been sustained by traditional violence studies (Clinard 1973). An extensive international literature has discussed how underdevelopment and bad physical conditions of urban slums can be related to their crime rates.

To deal with this growing problem, many developing countries started implementing upgrading programs in urban slums. Consequently recent urban studies began to focus on the impact of these improving programs. (A.Khalifa 2011), (Abdul Mohit 2012), (Farouk Hassan 2012), (Samper 2011) But there is a little interest on the effects of these programs on the perception of the safety among the occupants of slum areas The objective of this paper is to draw attention on this topic. Focusing on the effects of urban upgrading practices in the oldest informal settlement "Bouakal" of a middle Algerian city Batna:


The growth of research into fear of crime has been significant in recent years (Hale 1996) since it was developed as a research focus in many countries (Evans & Fletcher 2000).The relationship between housing, neighborhood quality and perception of security had been the object of many scientific researches. It was the influential 'Broken Windows' thesis (1982) that draw the attention on the negative influence of deteriorating neighborhood conditions The subject of physical and social signs of incivilities and fear of crime has been developed further. Research had consistently demonstrated that deteriorating housing and neighborhood conditions increased concern about neighborhood safety. (Skogan & Maxfield 1981, (Boorah & Carcach 1997); (Roche 2002)

The existence of neighborhood incivilities and other signs of deterioration might lead residents to believe that the level of social control in the area was deteriorating and sparked concern and fear among residents (Skogan 1990, p. 3). Neighborhood residents who perceived their local surroundings to be physically disorderly are more likely to exhibit higher levels of fear (LaGrange, Ferraro, & Supancic 1992).

Planners and urban designers are beginning to consider the capacity of the built environment to reduce both the fear of crime and the potential for offending. (cozens 2002) A Study revealed the contribution of the high quality urban environment in Singapore to its relatively low crime rate and urban safety. (Yuen 2004)

Regarding informal settlements, recently, a researcher explored contemporary urban upgrading practices in Latin America as a fundamental way that interventions in informal settlements can affect the residents' quality of life and perceptions of security. The study finds that there is an apparent connection between the physical structural changes to the urban form of informal settlements that these interventions create and how residents in these settlement communities are willing to express issues of security (Samper Jota 2011).

Add to this literature, researches focused on social connections between residents, crime rates and perceptions of safety and showed that neighborhoods with strong social networks tend to have lower crime rates than those with weak social ties. (Crutchfield et al. 1982); (Kubrin et Weitzer 2003) (Sun et al. 2004)

Furthermore, a relationship exists between fear, neighborhood satisfaction, and quality of life (Marshall 1991). More recent researches extended the literature by showing an indirect effect operating through the intervening variable of satisfaction with the physical environment of the local, which was in turn related to perceptions of safety. …

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