Forty percent of the population in Mexico's growing cities is poor and has no adequate access to infrastructure services. The Mexican government is working to reduce the heavy differences in the cities and support urban and social development in poor areas. In 2003 the national "Habit" program was implemented, an ongoing well-functioning project in Mexico, which is already established in 200 cities. The program faces poverty with a territorial and demographic approach. The issue of infrastructure is tackled as an integral component of a series of activities, which also include the provision of electricity grid extension to poor urban areas. In Mexico 953 mil people were without electricity access in 2008 (10).


During 2004-2012 the program and its goals were supported by the "Multiphase Program to Address Urban Poverty" financed and developed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).


  1. Objective
  2. Target Group
  3. Output
  4. Key Features of the Case
  5. Sustainable Financing
  6. Supportive Policies and Institutional Environment
  7. Building Local Capacity and Skills
  8. Community Participation and Including Local Stakeholders
  9. Achieving Co-Benefits
  10. Affordability and Technical Issues
  11. Local Champions
  12. Monitoring and Evaluation
  13. Replicability and Scaling-up
  14. Contact
  15. References and Further Reading



The objective of the program is to reduce urban poverty by the provision of adequate social services and infrastructures.


Target Group

Families, living in areas with high poverty concentration.



  • Through the Habitat program 15,810 projects were approved in 1,550 polygons located in 270 cities in 2011. (3)


  • Annually the program benefits on average 1,035,000 households.


  • The percentage of homes without electricity descended from 6.4% (2000) to 1.4% (2005). (9)


  • During the years of 2005 to 2007, 752,000 lineal meters and in the years of 2008 to 2012, 127,000 lineal meters of electricity grids were constructed or rehabilitated by the IDB project, which was even more than planned. (9)


Key Features of the Case

  • Integrated approach: The program faces urban poverty in different ways. It combines investment in basic infrastructure and equipment with the promotion of social services and community development.


  • To improve life quality of the urban poor population, basic services of infrastructure are one of the priorities. The program achieves energy access with conventional grid extension to households and the construction of public lighting.


  • Selection of Priority Focuses Areas (PFAs) by different criteria: socioeconomic and environmental situation, technical feasibility, as well as legal and urban planning. One factor is for example the proximity to sewage and electricity networks and a high level of infrastructure deficit.


  • The projects are carried out in cities with at least 15,000 inhabitants (3).




Sustainable Financing

The Habitat program is funded by the Mexican government, which tries to enhance the effect of federal subsidies with co-financing from municipals, organizations and the beneficiaries by itself. The activities are carried out with proper resources from the municipalities or with additional support from the government. For example in the actions for the improvement of neighborhoods, the environment and territorial management the national government contributes with 50% and the municipals with 40%. The remaining 10% should come from the beneficiaries in form of money or work capacity.(5)


In 2011 the available budget for the program was US$ 260.75 million, US$ 12.5 million for management, US$ 0.25 million costs for maintenance and US$ 248 million supported projects. The local governments contributed with US$ 226 million.(2)


The Mexican government also requested financial support from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The bank financed an assistant project Multiphase Program to Address Urban Poverty with a loan of US$ 350 million in a first phase and US$ 150 million in a second one. The funding from the bank of the second phase depended on the fulfillment of requirements.(9)


Supportive Policies and Institutional Environment

As the program is government led, there is continuous commitment from various political levels. The Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL) coordinates the program and activities, having in mind also other projects from national or federal secretaries. SEDESOL seeks to enhance the impact of resources, strengthen activities, promote complementarities and reduce administration costs. At a local level the municipalities are the principal executor of activities.


A national framework for sustainable development is set by the "National Development Plan". In 2007 also a "National Infrastructure Program" was established for the expansion of energy access and improvement of quality.


The program supports directly the aim of the Sectoral Program of Social Development, which is to increase households availability of basic services (water, electricity,etc.) to the total amount of households from 84 to 90 per cent (between 2005 and 2012). Between others the project also contributes to the Millennium Goals to halve the percentage of persons without sustainable access to water and basic sanitation by 2015.



Building Local Capacity and Skills

Courses, workshops, tutorials and laboratories are important regarding the project objective of social and community development and take an important role in the project. The activities focus on subjects like job skills, promotion of social rights and environmental care. Topics related to energy are residential maintenance and saving energy through renewable energies (wind and solar). In its operational guidelines the project also provides the possibility to promote the participation of local elderly people to share their knowledge, skills and experience and dedicate them to the social projects. In different municipals capacity buildings were carried out. An example is the municipal Tenosique. In 2012 federal resources of around $ 3 million 442 thousand pesos were approved for curses and workshops in different urban neighborhoods.


Further capacity building is also carried out on urban planning. The program offers municipalities aim in project and investment management to support sustainable growth in the cities. This contains technical assistance and training in strategy planning and equipment for project programming and control.


Community Participation and Including Local Stakeholders

Habitat is a program of SEDSOL, which works closely with the participating municipals for its implementation. In annual agreements the national government and the municipals determine the amount of federal and local resources and select regions for project implementation. In almost every city the municipal governments fulfil the role of an intermediary between the federal governments and the selected neighbourhoods. The municipal authorities or the project manager promote the participation of the resident population, as a result of which the level of public participation differs between the different municipals, for example in the design of Work Committees. The operation guidelines of the program provide the participation of residents in the preparation of a development plan or a similar instrument and in the formation and operation of social monitoring instances. The development plan determines the needs and priorities of the communities and is the base for the selection of activities. Service providers of water and electricity are responsible for the design and operation, which guarantees sustainability of services.


Achieving Co-Benefits

The Habitat is an intervention to improve unfavorable physical and social conditions in urban or peri-urban districts, but doesn't incorporate politics of human capital formation, promotion of employment or income generation, which form part of other initiatives. Only in some projects income generation and social development is taken into consideration in curses and workshops, for example capacitation in trades and business administration.


Electrification and public lighting improved life quality in the beneficiary areas. 64% of the surveyed people felt safer after the installations, 27% lives better and 9% said that accidents have decreased. Advantages of the electrification are also improvement in cleanness and reduction of fires and accidents of candle use.(11)


Besides electricity access the project has a number of other goals, which improve health and safety conditions of the families.


Affordability and Technical Issues

The program targets persons who live in extreme poverty with incomes insufficient to meet the needs of food, health, education, housing and public transport. Accordingly expected contribution of beneficiaries to project financing is very limited. The project costs are covered by federal resources (50-70%) and the municipalities (30-50%). In actions for the improvement of neighborhoods, the environment and territorial management, the project provides the contribution of beneficiaries in money, labor or other kind of at least 10% of the amount. The local governments have the possibility to absorb this amount with own resources.


Local Champions

The project was championed by the Mexican government through the Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL), which decided to take measures to counteract a trend of urbanization and creation of poverty concentration in some areas of the cities.


Monitoring and Evaluation

The program was evaluated repeatedly by external institutions and the BID. In addition an Internal Control Unit of SEDSOL control and improve processes. In 2007 the project was evaluated in basic infrastructure by the Mathematic Policy Research (MPR). The assessment concentrated on the evaluation of project impacts on basic infrastructure services (potable water, sewage and electricity). Researchers noted that areas beneficiated by the project have a three percentage point higher reduction of service gaps than similar non-beneficiary areas, which shows a significant success of the project. Other evaluation methods utilized in the program were surveys, case studies and operational and results evaluation.


From the part of the BID a well-developed monitoring and evaluation system was established to document process and look for the fulfillment of requirements for a second phase of the multiphase program. The Ministry provides half-yearly reports to the bank with information about execution and results. In 2007 the Mathematic Policy Research (MPR) also realized a detailed midterm evaluation in order to fulfill the conditions of the second bank loan.


Replicability and Scaling-up

The investigations of the program are concentrated to few areas. Possibilities for a better distribution of resources were discussed, but it did not seem feasible as it would reduce project impacts. Funds maintain to be investigated always in the same sites. Scaling-up and expanding of the coverage will only be possible with an increase of funds.


The Habit program, regarding its characteristics, is replicable in other cities of Latin America.



Fundación Bariloche

Kerstin Lukrafka

e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


References and Further Reading

  1. Homepage SEDESOL Programa Habitat: link
  2. SEDESOL, CONEVAL (2012): Evaluación de Consistencia y Resultados 2011-2012. link
  3. SEDESOL (2011): Cuarto Informe Trimestral 2011. link
  4. SEDESOL (2012): Lineamiento de operación Programa Hábitat 2012. link
  5. CEPAL: Información Programa Hábitat Mexico. link
  6. Inter-American Development Bank (2004): Multiphase Program to Address Urban Poverty, Phase I, Loan Proposal. link
  7. Inter-American Development Bank (2007): Multiphase Program to Address Urban Poverty, Phase II, Loan Proposal. link
  8. Inter-American Development Bank (2011): Multiphase Program to Address Urban Poverty, Phase II, Progress Monitoring Report. link
  9. Inter-American Development Bank (2011): Informe de Terminación de Proyecto. link
  10. Inter-American Development Bank: Programa Integral de Atención a la Pobreza Urbana, Perfil del proyecto México. link
  11. Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (2009): Informe final de la Evaluación Específica de Monitoreo de Obra Pública, Programa Habitat. link
  12. Stratos Inc. Strategies to Sustainability (2004): Mexico Case Study-Analysis of National Strategies for Sustainable Development, Canada. link
  13. SEDESOL (2012): Manual Ciudadano 2012. link
  15. Article: Clausura de cursos del Programa Hábitat 2012: link
  16. Image:


Habitat Program Mexico






The program was created by the Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL).


Fundación Bariloche

Kerstin Lukrafka

e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Grid Electricity

Energy resource:

  • Unspecified grid electricity

Sub type:


    • Energy supply
    • Household


    • Electricity


    • National Grid

    Targeted area:

    • Urban
    • Peri-urban

    Geographical scope:


    Project status:

    Operational project

    Project start:


    End date:


    Implementing approach:


    Funding Type:

    • Grant
    • Loan

    Budget (Euro):