Towards a human-centred approach for enhancing place prosperity : defining and operating within the basic human needs

Abubakar, Aisha (2021) Towards a human-centred approach for enhancing place prosperity : defining and operating within the basic human needs. Open House International. ISSN 0168-2601 (

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Purpose The concept of basic human needs, though diversely interpreted, remains a policy and practice approach to combat poverty and improve wellbeing. Meanwhile, defining locally sensitive basic needs to support context-specific improvement is still an essential requirement. The paper examines basic human needs fulfilment in the context of effective improvement strategies and proposes a Basic Human Needs Glossary, a definition framework and tool for understanding needs pursuits and helping to streamline responses towards establishing their potential. Design/methodology/approach The proposal for basic needs and development by the economist Manfred Max-Neef is examined from an operative point of view, including the role that the actualization of needs-centred goals performs in the pursuit of prosperity. The paper then adopts, adapts and defines the basic needs proposed by Max-Neef and outlines Basic Terms of Pursuit (BToP) for these through qualitative content analysis. Findings It is possible to breakdown the basic needs concepts into smaller subsets of traits, which are framed within the interrelated dimensions of personal and social interactions of people, and of people and environment (natural and man-made). Research limitations/implications The glossary with BToP is not conclusive, however. There is still potential to advance and further refine these through further content, qualitative and ethnographic research. Originality/value Enabling capacities for progressive needs fulfilment is, in theory, key to facilitating paths to prosperity, especially in intervention processes to improve vulnerable communities, like slums. A deeper clarification of needs pursuit presented by the glossary adds rigor to this task and to enhancing wellbeing standards overall. Thus, it can play an important resource role in urban practice.