Discomfort and distress in slum rehabilitation: Investigating a rebound phenomenon using a backcasting approach

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Slum rehabilitation policies in India is observed to have a rebound effect on the occupants, where rehabilitated occupants move back to the horizontal slums. In this study, we investigate the cause behind this rebound phenomenon based on a theory of homeostasis, where the loss of homeostasis refers to occupants' heightened discomfort and distress in their built environment. A novel methodological framework was developed to investigate it based on the principles of participatory backcasting approach and the theory of homeostasis. Thirty households in Mumbai's slum rehabilitation housing were interviewed to determine the social, economic and environmental cause of distress and discomfort. Granular information was obtained by further investigating the factors that influence occupants' attitude, emotions, health, control and habits in their built environment that regulates their holistic comfort and lack of stress. The causal linkages among these factors were established using a qualitative fault tree. Results show two primary cause of distress and discomfort in the study area owing to economic distress and built environment related discomfort. Economic distress was from low-income and high electricity bills due to higher household appliance ownership, and built environment discomfort was due to lack of social spaces and poor design of the slum rehabilitation housing. This study showed that mitigating such non-income drivers of distress and discomfort can prevent rebound phenomenon and improve the sustainability of the slum rehabilitation process.




Debnath, R., Bardhan, R., & Sunikka-Blank, M. (2019). Discomfort and distress in slum rehabilitation: Investigating a rebound phenomenon using a backcasting approach. Habitat International, 87, 75–90. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.habitatint.2019.03.010

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