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Turks and Caicos Islands

Informal Settlements Unit

The Turks and Caicos Islands Informal Settlements Unit (ISU) is a government organisation tasked with finding solutions to the growing challenges experienced within and by informal settlements across the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Informal Settlement?

An informal settlement is an area consisting of housing or other buildings that have been illegally erected. These developments are built outside of any planning oversight and as such, they have poor structural quality and lack the most basic amenities and services such as water, electricity, roads, storm water drains and sanitation among other things. They pose a multitude of threats and risks to the people residing in them as well as both the community and environment around them.

Community focused solutions.

The ISU is focused on building safer, more sustainable communities in the Turks and Caicos Islands. To this end, we are addressing the many problems that informal settlements create and looking at the root cause of their development so as to avoid future settlements as the country continues to grow.

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Our Purpose

Building safer, more sustainable communities in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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What are Informal Settlements?

The short and simple answer is that an informal settlement is any area comprising illegally built structures, but the reality is far more complex than that.

The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) 2020 defines an informal settlement as a residential area where:

  • inhabitants have no security of tenure vis-à-vis the land or dwellings they inhabit, with modalities ranging from squatting to informal rental housing.

  • the neighbourhoods usually lack, or are cut off from, basic services and city infrastructure

  • the housing may not comply with current planning and building regulations, and is often situated in geographically and environmentally hazardous areas

The immediately obvious problems with informal settlements are the ownership of the land on which they are erected, the integrity of the structures being erected, and the potential for a myriad of health and other safety issues. The less obvious problems are the impact on the surrounding communities, the impact on the environment and the effect they have on the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


Add to that the fact that informal settlements often provide the only housing options their residents can afford and you now have a social and humanitarian issue to address.

Below is a short list of just a few of the many problems that informal settlements pose to the Turks and Caicos Islands:

  • Fire hazards

  • Lack of basic services

  • Lack of proper sanitation

  • Unhealthy living conditions

  • Unregistered addresses and illegal residents

  • Illegal squatting on private and/or crown land

Get Involved

Help us to help the communities of the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

If you are aware of any informal settlements, please fill out an anonymous form using the link below. 

If you are interested in other ways you can help, feel free to contact us using any of the contact information listed at the bottom of the page.

Together we can build safer, more sustainable communities in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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