Counter-Mapping Practices in Land Regularization Through Geoinformation Technologies: The ÉPURA Group Experience in Cuiabá, Brazil

Counter-Mapping Practices in Land Regularization Through Geoinformation Technologies: The ÉPURA Group Experience in Cuiabá, Brazil

Andrea Figueiredo Arruda, Cristina Delgado Henriques, Claudio Santos de Miranda
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2249-3.ch013
(Individual Chapters)
No Current Special Offers


This chapter outlines the experience of the Épura Research and Extension Group of the Federal University of Mato Grosso for the identification, characterization, and demarcation of informal settlements in Cuiabá (Brazil). This involved cooperating with the local residents' associations and public authorities in recognizing local demands and the need to open up urban land regularization processes. The cartographic issue is central to the recognition and legitimization of these territories and the use of geoinformation technologies, namely geographic information systems and unmanned aerial vehicles, can increase the speed and accuracy of the mapping of the neighborhoods. Additionally, the demands for urban and housing improvements and provision of space for everyday activities can be highlighted through the visualization and measuring tools that are embodied in these technologies. Furthermore, the experience requires the university to play a role in seeking more participatory and proactive practices within urban planning processes.
Chapter Preview


The right to an adequate standard of living, including housing was recognized by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights as early as 1948. The new global agenda of the millennium on Sustainable Development Goals reaffirms the need to ensure access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing (United Nations, 2015).

The concept of adequate housing according to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (2014) is based on the principle that it must provide “more than four walls and a roof”, and give an assurance that it can meet the following criteria: legal security of tenure, affordability, habitability, availability of essential services, appropriate building materials, basic facilities and infrastructure, accessibility, a suitable location, and cultural identity. Although the right to housing is recognized as a constitutional right in many countries, there are still millions of families living in informal settlements, slums, inadequate and precarious forms of habitat. These self-produced territories are consolidated as the possible place to live, in light of the global demographic growth.

With regard to effective measures taken for land regularization, there is a consensus on the need for continuous efforts to identify, measure, characterize, and demarcate informal settlements so that they can be incorporated in an ¨intervention¨ agenda as a part of a broader public policy for housing, although there are still many challenges at the administrative, technical and political levels that need to be overcome. With more or less success, some experiences have already been taken to tackle this situation, mainly through the use of new technologies for surveying and land registration processes, to determine the priority areas.

This chapter presents the experience and practice of the Research Group on Urban and Regional Planning (Épura), at the Department of Architecture and Urbanism, Federal University of Mato Grosso. It combines a set of initiatives with the aim of giving visibility to informal settlements, by identifying and characterizing these territories, and comparing the local demarcations with those of the official cartography of the municipality. The purpose of this is to put on the agenda their recognition and address people´s urban demands.

Attention is drawn here to attempts to produce participatory mapping in three informal settlements within the municipality of Cuiabá (capital of the state of Mato Grosso, Brazil), by making use of geoinformation technologies. The methodology carried out to achieve this goal consists of identifying informal settlements and confronting them with data and demarcations of official records (municipal and federal) through the analysis and manipulation of georeferenced data in Geographic Information System (GIS). In a second stage, the boundaries of the urban demarcation and the households of the settlements are ascertained from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) images.

The experience described in this chapter is aimed at filling the huge institutional and administrative gap in policymaking, especially with regard to the practice of identification and demarcation of settlements or informal urban areas in the municipality of Cuiabá. The results of its application in several case studies (Getúlio Vargas, Salim Felício, and Vila Verde), as well as making an evaluation of its feasibility in other contexts of delimitation of informal settlements, are also presented here.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Subnormal Agglomerate: Official designation used by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics to define, identify, and characterize urban informal settlements, based on information from census data.

Counter-Mapping: Cartographic representation that challenges (or opposes) conventional, technical and official cartography. It is characterized by the real spatial demarcation legitimizing the historical, symbolic and territorial occupation dimensions by a social group.

Insecurity of Tenure: Includes different situations concerning land occupation: illegal occupation, tolerated occupation, occupation legitimized by a social group or customary practices but not considered as legal by government or local authorities.

Urban Land Regularization: Set of legal, urban, environmental and social measures that aim to comply with the constitutional principle of the right to housing and access to urban land.

Official Demarcation: Land tenure delimitation officially recognized by the municipal public power.

Precarious Settlement: Official designation used by the National Housing Policy to define, at a national level, urban housing inadequacies where low-income families live.

Informal Settlements: Urban territories, mostly self-produced, where, to a greater or lesser degree, coexist insecurity of tenure, needs for housing and urban improvements namely basic infrastructures, implementation of services and essential public amenities.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book: