Introduction: One of the factors of unsustainable urban development, especially in developing countries, is informal settlements which are developing in the cities alongside the increase in population and due to growing urbanization. Informal settlements create many problems and disparities with regard to physical, economic and social aspects in metropolises. Therefore, this requires the adoption of special measures and strategies in urban planning. Proposed approaches to seek a remedy differ from omission and demolition to improvement and empowerment of these settlements. Therefore, over time and with the failure of past approaches to solve the problems of informal settlements, new empowerment approaches emphasize on strengthening the social capital and using this capital to mobilize four other types of capitals (human capital, natural capital, financial capital and physical capital). Thus, the strategy of empowering has a special place in the informal settlements literature in the world.
Method: This study is descriptive-analytical and applicable. Through random sampling and Cochran’s formula, 384 people 18 years old and above living in Shir-Abad quarter in Zahedan were chosen.
Findings: The indexes of participation (in environmental dimension), cooperation (in the physical, economic, social and environmental dimensions) and formal and informal networks (in the physical, social and environmental dimensions) were above average. The indexes of participation (in the physical and social dimensions), confidence (in the physical, economic, social and environmental dimensions) and formal and informal networks (in the economic dimension) were average and the index of participation (in economic dimension) was lower than average. Moreover, there was a significant correlation between all indicators and empowerment dimensions.
Discussion: The findings suggested that there is a two-way relationship between empowerment and social capital. Anything that causes social capital, also increases empowerment and vice versa. Therefore, the conditions of Shir-Abad, as an example of urban margine neighborhoods, provide an opportunity to use strategy of empowerment through social capital.