Baan Mankong participatory slum upgrading in Bangkok, Thailand: Community perceptions of outcomes and security of tenure

TitleBaan Mankong participatory slum upgrading in Bangkok, Thailand: Community perceptions of outcomes and security of tenure
Annotated RecordAnnotated
Year of Publication2012
AuthorsArcher D
Secondary TitleHabitat International
PublisherElsevier Ltd
Key themesCivilSociety-Donors, Formalisation-titling, MarginalisedPeople, Urban

A key problem facing slum dwellers is tenure insecurity - as well as the threat of eviction, residents are excluded from many services extended to legal residents, from water connections to public schooling. Thailand's Baan Mankong slum upgrading program adopts a people-driven approach to resolving problems of insecure housing and poor living conditions, putting slum residents at the core of the process. This paper explores, through interviews, how residents in four Bangkok communities perceive the outcomes of upgrading, particularly their new homes and tenure situation. Participant satisfaction is key to ensuring successful scaling up of Baan Mankong, as this is done through community-driven exchange and learning-by-doing. The results show that while the respondents appreciate their new houses and improved living environment, they are wary of the resulting debt burden. While tenure is regarded as secure in the short term, the long-term situation is not so clear. Homes cannot be sold on outside the community, and therefore Baan Mankong is valued more for improving shelter and strengthening community cohesiveness, rather than as a profit-driven financial investment.


Copyrighted journal article



Document Type

Journal Article


Overall relevance: 

This paper studies the residents’ perceptions toward Baan Mankong, which was implemented in 2003 by the quasi-government agency called Community Organization Development Institute (CODI) under the Thai Government. The project intended to upgrade 300,000 slum households residing on state-owned lands to improve housing conditions and create a sense of land/housing tenure security. The author selected four Baan Mankong communities in Bangkok, including Bang Bua (BB), Bonkai (B), Klong Tory (KT) and Ruam Samakee (RS), for her fieldwork. The paper suggests that the residents were satisfied with the physical outcomes, although they needed to accept the increased financial burden and a smaller plot. Furthermore, despite having an unclear tenure status, residents felt their tenure security rose, allowing them to recommend the projects to others and invest in long-term infrastructure development. Likewise, Baan Mankong forges ties among residents and develops collective resources for the entire community, such as libraries, day-care centres, and welfare funds. The paper links urban land governance together with an understanding of the urban poor/slum dwellers and their right to affordable housing. Furthermore, the article shows the roles of non-state organisations in working toward land/housing registration for marginalised people.

Key Themes: 
  • Civil society and donor engagement in land issues - Community development requires collaborative governance from various domestic and international stakeholders. In Thailand, a top-down approach is utilised by state agencies to implement community development programs. However, civil society organisations mobilise people from the ground to voice their concerns louder while acting as a bridge to connect the state agencies and citizens.
  • Land rights recognition/formalization/titling/collective tenure - Urban poor live in crowded slum communities around Bangkok. They do not possess legal land titles or housing registration. Without legal protection, they are at risk of being evicted from their premises. Therefore, collective actions among their communities and assistance from civil society organisations are needed to secure their tenure and sustain their livelihoods.
  • Marginalized people's land rights and access: ethnic minorities, poor and women - For decades, Bangkok has encountered a large volume of migration from different regions of the country due to global forces and domestic economic centralisation. This urban poor possesses unused lands and lives without proper registration. Moreover, due to a low bargaining position in negotiations, they are excluded and must leave their houses through forced eviction without compensation.
  • Urban land governance - Due to economic development and increasing land prices, land developers have sought to make the best use of land. Likewise, government rezones specific land areas for commercial, recreational, industrial, and residential purposes. As a result, slum-dwellers find it difficult since they are pressured and forced to leave their premises. While housing prices have skyrocketed, slum dwellers have no choice but to face insecure tenure.
Research basis: 

This paper employs qualitative methodology through an 8-month period of fieldwork in Bangkok from 2008 to 2009. The author conducted in-depth interviews, semi-structured interviews, and focus group discussions with 200 community leaders and residents, of which around half were female. Likewise, the author participated in participatory observation in community meetings and training sessions. For triangulation purposes, the author also interviewed landowners, state officials and academics. (Provided by Saittawut Yutthaworakool)