Friday, August 05, 2005

Slums - UN Habitat Report

In this blog, just as few before this on slums I am presenting data about the extent of the problem. In this blog I will look at the global scale of the problem. All the data is from UN-Habitat reports.Like before I was shocked by looking at most of the numbers below.

According to UN-Habitat report, Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements 2003, sub-saharan Africa hosts the largest propotion of urban population in slums (71.9 %); 166 million people out of total urban population of 231 million are classified as slum dwellers. Around 43% of urban population of all developing world combined lives in slums.

South Central Asia has the largest slum population, 262 million, accounting for 58% of the total urban slum population worldwide. The report estimates that 924 million people worldwide or 31.6% of global urban population worldwide live in slums. This number has increased 36% during the 1990's. Even more worse is that they estimate that unless there is substantial policy change this population will more than double to 2 billion in next thirty years.

It also notes that 41% of population of Calcutta has lived in slums for more than 30 years.
Slum life entails living in harshest of conditions, in overcrowded or insecure neighborhoods, sharing toilets with hundreds of people and worst of all constantly facing the fear of evictions. Slum dwellers are prone to water-borne diseases and other health risks.

The report makes several important observations about slum dwellers. It notes that slum dwellers are victims of crime rather than they spreading crime which is the common myth. It notes that slum dwellers provide important services which otherwise would be tough to get. Urban life would come to a halt if these services were not present.

It notes that there is a lack of political will at internationl, national and local level to address this issue. The report suggests that in-situ slum upgrading is far more effective solution to improve slum dwellers lifes than resettlement. This is a very important thing to keep in mind when designing policies for slums.

Another intersting thing which shows up in the report is that slum dwellers are not that concerned about ownership (and in many cases may not be able to afford it even if provided with low cost houses), but want the government to come up with a rent-control system to avoid their explotation by goons/politicians.


At 6:59 PM, Blogger M S Narayanan said...

It is surprising to note that many countries including India want to follow the absurd model of concentrating on only the cities for development.
When good sense will prevail on such people


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