32. Proportion of households with access to secure tenure



The proportion of households with access to secure tenure is the percentage of the urban population that lives in slums. In the absence of data on number of slum dwellers, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) produces estimates based on a definition of slums as agreed by the Expert Group Meeting on Urban Indicators in 2002. These indicators will be adjusted and the definitions of secure tenure and slums will be refined through future consultations with Expert Group Meeting participants and their related networks of professionals.


Secure tenure refers to households that own or are purchasing their homes, are renting privately or are in social housing or subtenancy. Households without secure tenure are defined as squatters (whether or not they pay rent), the homeless and households with no formal agreement.


A slum household is defined by UN-HABITAT as a group of individuals living under the same roof that lack one or more (in some cities, two or more) of the following conditions: security of tenure, structural quality and durability of dwellings, access to safe water, access to sanitation facilities and sufficient living area.


Goal/target addressed

Goal 7. Ensure environmental sustainability.

Target 11. By 2020, have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.



The indicator is intended to provide an overview of the share of urban population living in conditions of poverty and physical and environmental deprivation.


Method of computation

The indicator is computed as the ratio of the number of households in urban areas that lack one or more of the conditions listed under “Definition” to the number of urban households, expressed as a percentage.


Data collection and source

Data come mainly from household surveys such as Demographic and Health Surveys, Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys and Joint Monitoring Programme questionnaires. In countries without such data from surveys, data can be derived from population and housing censuses, which usually include questions about housing tenure.


UN-HABITAT produces estimates of slum population based on these national sources for assessing regional and global trends.



United Nations Human Settlements Programme, www.unhabitat.org/campaigns/tenure.

Expert Group Meeting on Urban Indicators, Secure Tenure, Slums and Global Sample of Cities, 2002, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (www.unhabitat.org/programmes/guo).

Resolution 2000/13, “Women’s Equal Ownership of, Access to and Control over Land and the Equal Rights to Own Property and to Adequate Housing”, Commission on Human Rights (www.unhabitat.org/programmes/landtenure).

Women and Housing Rights, 2000, Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (www.cohre.org/lbframe.htm).


Periodicity of measurement

Household surveys are generally conducted every three to five years. Censuses are conducted every 10 years.


Gender issues

For women (more than for men), housing—beyond basic shelter—also often functions as an important place of employment, social interaction, and a place to care for children. It may offer respite from social instability and violence. Discriminatory social and economic practices within and outside the household may result in women being excluded from many aspects of housing, including policy development, control over housing resources, rights of inheritance and ownership, community organizing or the construction of housing. This exclusion can threaten women’s security of tenure by preventing women from owning, inheriting, leasing, renting or remaining in housing and land.


International data comparisons

UN-HABITAT produces regional and global estimates of percentage of slum dwellers based on national data. No internationally comparable country data series are being produced yet.


Comments and limitations

Data are not yet generally available.



United Nations Human Settlements Programme.