Slums in Latin AmericaCurrently, one in seven people worldwide lives in a slum. By some estimates, this number will rise to one in four people by the year 2030. A slum can be defined as housing with no land permits, inadequate access to basic services (water, toilets and electricity), unsafe components (broken windows, dirt floors and leaks) and an overcrowded population. These 10 facts about slums in Latin America explain how people are affected by these poor living conditions.

10 Facts About Slums in Latin America

  1. Rapid Urbanization: South America has historically been dominated by rural living. However, in more recent years, the cities of South America have seen a rapid rate of urbanization. Urban living now supports 82 percent of the population. When people move from the countryside to the city in large numbers, there are often not enough resources to support everyone. As a result, people resort to constructing illegal housing to survive.
  2. Millions Affected: In Latin America, approximately 117 million people survive in poverty. Most of these people survive in slums just outside major metropolitan areas. These cities include Mexico City, São Paulo, Bogota, Rio de Janeiro and Lima.
  3. Neza-Chalco-Itiza: On the cusp of Mexico City rests Neza-Chalco-Itiza, one of the largest slums in South America and the fourth largest in the world. With a population of 1.1 million people, the slum is filled to the brim. People flooded to the city after World War II in hopes of work, but they found poverty instead. Today, the slum has developed a systematic way of living that mimics life inside the major city.
  4. Favelas: Some of the most infamous slums can be found in Brazil. In Portuguese, slums are called favelas. Most favelas in Brazil can be found in the areas surrounding Rio de Janeiro. More than 11 million people live in this type of housing.
  5. Entrepreneurship: While slums can be a source of hardship and poverty, they can also be the birthplace for many entrepreneurs. With so many people struggling to survive, some take it upon themselves to create businesses out of the little resources that they have. For example, Bistrô Estação R&R is a bar inside a garage in Rio de Janeiro. These small businesses bring people together in their communities and can help boost the economy.
  6. Widespread disease: Slums are often a breeding ground for disease. With a lack of proper sanitation and people living in such close proximity, illness develops fast and spreads even quicker. Tuberculosis is just one example of a disease that has spread in slums. In Peru, 60 percent of tuberculosis cases in 2011 were reported from the slums surrounding Lima. Luckily, organizations such as the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) have hosted several government interventions to advocate for development plans.
  7. Drugs, gangs and violence: With a lack of central authority, slums are more susceptible to drugs, gangs and violence. Many of the world’s most infamous drug lords originate from these areas and threaten the local community. While police intervention sometimes occurs, often these communities are ignored. In 2015, 47 of the 50 most murderous cities were found in Latin America.
  8. Upgrading housing: With the aim of improving housing for communities living in slums, several nonprofits, such as TECHO, have advocated for the improvement of infrastructure. TECHO’s policy is that slums of 10 or more families who lack one or more necessities, such as water or sewage, qualify for aid. In several of TECHOs projects, houses have been reconstructed using pinewood and tin. Families who received this assistance have stated that their quality of life has effectively improved after the refurbishments.
  9. Pride: While slums can be riddled with poverty and crime, they are also filled with pride. In a 2013 study, 85 percent of favela residents said that they like where they are from. This could largely be attributed to the communities formed within these tight housing situations and the entrepreneurship that binds people together.
  10. Slum tourism: Slum tourism is when travelers visit impoverished populations in order to see the areas. The practice began in the 1800s when wealthy Londoners would pay to see a lifestyle that was so drastically different from their own. Slum tourism can have negative effects on a community for multiple reasons. For one, it promotes the wealth gap by separating the wealthy from the poor. In addition, poverty tourism does not necessarily benefit local areas. If tourists pay larger organizations to conduct the visit rather than community members, the money will not reach the slums. On the other hand, poverty tourism that challenges negative stereotypes and is led by slum residents can aid in the growth of the local economy.

By looking at these 10 facts about slums in Latin America, it easy to see how these living conditions can damage a person’s health and wellbeing as well as how the residents of these slums are struggling to survive. However, by upgrading communities and being conscious tourists, these areas can be uplifted and improved, helping the one-seventh of the world that lives in slums.

-Anna Melnik
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Slums in Manila
Since as early as the mid-1900s, impoverished citizens of Manila, Philippines have resided in informal settlements known as slums. The metro Manila area has several of these slums which houses much of the poor population of the city. Below are 10 facts about slums in Manila.

10 Facts about slums in Manila

  1. An estimated 35 percent of the metro Manila population live in unstable, poorly constructed shelters in slums. Eleven percent of slum residents live near unsafe areas like railroads and garbage dumps. According to the World Bank, living conditions in slums are worse than in the poorest rural areas. The Mega-Cities Project’s research found that tuberculosis rates were nine times higher than in non-slum areas and that rates of diarrheal disease were two times higher.

  2. It is extremely difficult to collect adequate demographic data on slum populations, as most constituents lack a proper address. Even if surveyors reach slum occupants, most are timid to answer questions due to the fear that surveyors will use the information to demolish their shelters or resettle them. Most slum residents have very little or no tenant security. However, in 2000 the Asian Development Bank estimated a total slum population of around 3.4 million in Manila.

  3. The rate of childhood malnutrition is three times higher in the slums than in non-slum areas. According to USAID, children sometimes have to sort through garbage for scraps of food. A study of the Smoky Mountain slum found that 80 percent of children aged eight months to 15 years who scavenged for food had at least two species of intestinal parasites. An Asian Development Bank study found that 50 percent of children were anemic. This is despite the fact that many of these children have access to medical facilities.

  4. Residents in Manila slums lack access to proper sanitation and a clean environment. USAID states that 66 percent of slum residents lack an adequate way to dispose of human waste and often resort to open pits or rivers. A UNICEF study found that only 16 percent of children in the slums have access to clean drinking water. As a result, residents often turn to vendors or contaminated groundwater. The child mortality rate in slums is three times higher than in non-slum areas according to the Philippines Health Department.

  5. Project PEARLS is providing children in Manila slums with food and health care. The organization has three different food programs for the children of Manila slums. PEARLS launched The Soup Kitchen program in July 2015, which feeds at least 300  children per day on a budget of $160. The organization also provides free medicine to children for illnesses like dehydration, flu, pneumonia and infections, as well as various wounds.

  6. Slum settlements in Manila are extremely vulnerable to natural disasters. The Philippines ranks fourth in the global climate risk index and is often prone to typhoons, flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters. The instability of the often homemade shelters provides little to no protection from these calamities. The Asian Development Bank states that this and the fact that most slums are in dangerous locations make slum settlements vulnerable to natural hazards. Heavy rains in July 2000 caused a landslide of garbage that killed 218 people in a slum settled on top of a garbage dump.

  7. Habitat for Humanity is building stable shelters for slum residents in Manila. With the help of volunteers, the organization builds around 5,000 homes every year. The team works with the local government to rebuild homes and also construct new homes that can withstand the natural elements. From digging the foundation to pouring the concrete and laying the roof, the organization and volunteers create sustainable homes from the ground up for thousands of impoverished slum residents.

  8. The moderate economic growth in recent years did not help to mitigate poverty or slums. The Asian Development Bank reported an average 5.3 percent increase in GDP from 2003 to 2006. Poverty rates increased from 24 percent to 27 percent during that time and continued to increase in 2007 when the GDP growth was 7.1 percent. Chronic poverty, driven by factors like severe inequality and corruption, hinders the reduction of slum residents and settlements. The Philippines ranked 141 out of 180 countries in the 2008 Transparency International corruption perceptions index. According to the Asian Development Bank, local political dynasties manipulate markets to deter the poor from accessing private goods and capital. In 2006, the richest 20 percent owned 53 percent of the wealth in the country.

  9. Poverty is fuelling online child sex abuse in the slums. The live streaming of child pornography in these locations has led UNICEF to name the Philippines the global epicenter of the online child sex abuse trade. Despite the new cybercrime unit at the Philippines National Police Headquarters and the passage of an Anti-Child Pornography Law, convictions remain low and case reports high. This is partially due to the fact that the age of consent in the Philippines is only 12 years old. UNICEF reports that parents have even brought their children to these shows to earn money.

  10. Police and government corruption have engendered the unlawful killings of thousands of slum citizens at the hands of officers since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. These corrupt and violent raids target slum residents the most. A Human Rights Watch report found that these raids have unlawfully killed over 7,000 people. The report states that police often falsify evidence and falsely claim self-defense to get away with these extra-judicial killings. Although Duterte has not called for extra-judicial killings, his repeated calls for the killing of drug offenders and an absence of any investigations into the killings prompted the Human Rights Watch to label this campaign as a possible progenitor of crimes against humanity.

The Manila government has struggled to find ways to reduce poverty and the population of slum residents, but poverty is a drain on Manila’s economy. According to the Asian Development Bank, for every one percent increase in poverty, there is a 0.7 percent decrease in overall per capita income. Along with this economic algorithm, a lack of investment, access to capital and financial markets throughout slum communities hinders economic growth. Different non-governmental organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Project PEARLS are providing basic essentials and helpful assistance for the different struggles of slum life. However, the Philippines requires more research and both domestic and international assistance to mitigate and eventually solve the aforementioned 10 facts about slums in Manila.

– Zach Brown
Photo: Flickr

Informal Schools in African Slums
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) estimates that, as of 2010, more than 200 million people in Africa reside in slums. This means more than 200 million people are living their lives in inhumane conditions and circumstances. The children living in these slums have a compromised opportunity at education. According to UNICEF, the youth residing in slums are some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable youth in the world. Due to the burgeoning need for educational institutions in Africa, informal schools in African slums are gaining popularity.

What are Informal Schools?

Informal schools are unregistered educational institutions that are not recognized by the government. Traditional schooling comes in the form of either private or public schools, and informal schools are a sort of middle ground. They typically operate in impoverished areas and are mostly geared around offering the same education as a primary school. These institutions are funded by private parties and non-profit organizations.

Increasing Need

The main reason that the number of informal schools in African slums has been on the rise has to do with a surge of enrollment in public schools. This is, in part, due to the initiative of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which pushed toward target goals that would reduce poverty, such as improved access to education. This enrollment surge is a positive factor in Africa’s education sector, but comes with a downside: there are not enough public schools to meet the rising need of educating African children, and the usual alternative, private schools, are not financially accessible to most African families. Overcrowding in African schools has been an increasing problem; the pupil to instructor ratio in African primary schools is 42:1.

In response to the need for more educational institutes, informal schools have been sprouting up all over Africa, especially in slums. Characterized by the same steel and dirt architecture in the surrounding slums, these schools offer an alternative option for education. There is a lack of government schools in slums, so private sectors and organizations provide funds for the informal schools.

The Benefits of Informal Schooling

Informal schools in African slums not only facilitate access to education but also offer a safe space for the youth. Many of these schools, such as the Destiny Junior Education Center, offer meals and restrooms, which are not commodities in slum-living. Informal schools keep African children off the streets and in the classrooms, which potentially helps them stay away from the vices that are rampant in slum environments like drugs and alcohol.

The Future of Informal Schools

The next step regarding informal schools is to put policies in place to protect them. There are members in the education committee of the National Assembly that are working toward informal schools being recognized by the government so as to strengthen the quality of education in them.

Overall, informal schools in African slums are an attempt to meet the increasing need for education in slums. By offering an alternative to the congested public schools, these informal education centers provide hope for African youth.

– Paula Bouza
Photo: Flickr

Dharavi slum redevelopmentThe Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project was approved by the state government of Maharashtra on October 16, 2018. The new proposal plans to renovate the entire slum as a whole while previous failed attempts planned to divide the slum into 12 parts. The new plan must take into account the previous failures in order to succeed in the redevelopment of such a populated area.

About Dharavi

Dharavi is considered Asia’s largest slum, spanning almost 600 acres of land. Located in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, it is a long stretch of shanty houses, dirt roads and open sewage. It is estimated that the percentage of people in Greater Mumbai living in slums may be as high as 41.3 percent. Dharavi has a population of around one million people. Because Mumbai has some of the highest rental prices in the world, Dharavi has become a more affordable option for those moving to the city.

The slum was founded in 1882 during the time of British rule during the country’s urbanization. When the plague spread through India, the British government transferred much of its industry to Dharavi. What began as a fishing village has since grown into a densely populated, culturally rich and diverse area. It has an active informal economy where businesses will employ many slum residents for leather, textiles and pottery products.

About the Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project

Redevelopment plans for Dharavi have been on hold for the past 15 years, beginning in February 2004. There is hope now that the Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project will follow through after a Dubai-based firm called Sec-Link Technology Corporation (STC) won the global tender to renovate Dharavi for good.

Sec-Link Group is a special purpose organization working to redevelop slum around the world. This project is largely backed by the UAE. The Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project will cost around Rs 22,000 crore, which is over $3 billion. However, if the project continues to be delayed, the cost could grow to Rs 40,000 crore. STC proposed that slum residents will have larger, carpeted homes with 350 square feet as a minimum. Those above 300 square feet will get 400 square feet, and those over 500 will get an additional area of 35 percent.

The Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project includes using 200 acres to rehabilitate residents and build commercial units, 100 acres for a community garden and the remaining 300 acres will be for sale and commercial complexes. This also means that new infrastructures will be implemented, such as water systems and container housing.

Previous Issues

The reason that past redevelopment projects have failed is largely due to resistance from slum residents who felt the plans were not in their interest. Because Dharavi is so condensed, it has grown into its own ecosystem. Residents rely on the micro-enterprises in the slum, some of which take part in homes and outdoor spaces being used for places of work and social interaction. It is important to residents that the economy of Dharavi and their own livelihoods are supported during this change.

In order for a housing upgrade to work for all residents, it’s important the Dharavi Slum Redevelopment Project allows for the economic and social activities that thrive in slums. By converting slum buildings into industrial centers, Dharavi can grow from deprivation into a magnet of commerce. STC will begin working on the project in 2019 and plan to finish it in nine years.

Isadora Savage
Photo: Flickr

poverty and overcrowdingThe world is experiencing rapid population growth and urbanization. Advances in medicine have allowed for increased life expectancy as well as decreased infant mortality, while birth rates have largely remained unchanged. This combination of circumstances has lead to great growth; between 1999 and 2011, the population increased by nearly one billion people.

The population increase has led to rapid urbanization. People migrate to cities with the promise of economic or educational opportunity, technological advancement and access to health care. It is estimated that by 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas.

This urbanization of cities that are neither prepared nor equipped to deal with overcrowding places strain on both natural and manmade resources alike. The following is a list of five cities suffering from both poverty and overcrowding.

Five Major Cities Dealing With Poverty and Overcrowding

  1. Mumbai, India: With a population density of 171.9 people per square mile, India is notorious for overcrowding. Mumbai is no exception, with a population near 23 million and a population density of almost 70,000 people per square mile.Mumbai serves as India’s commercial hub and is home to the Bollywood industry, making it prone to migration. Yet, those with hopes of Bollywood often end up in prostitution or organized crime. The population has doubled in 25 years, leading to many slum neighborhoods.In fact, half of the population of Mumbai lives in overcrowded, unsanitary slums that comprise only eight percent of the city’s geographic area. Although great wealth exists throughout Mumbai, poverty and overcrowding continue to increase.
  1. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Being named the most densely populated city in the world in 2015, Dhaka suffers from overcrowding and poverty alike. It has also been named to lists of least livable cities and fastest growing cities.Its population is over 18 million, with a density of 114,300 people per square mile. Roughly one-third of Dhaka’s residents live in poverty, with two million inhabiting slums or without any form of shelter.
  1. Lagos, Nigeria: Lagos is Africa’s fastest growing city. In 2017, the population was 21 million; the U.N. predicts that this number will rise to over 24 million by 2030.Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and a lagoon, Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial capital. Yet, 300,000 people live in slum neighborhoods and make a living by fishing out of hand-built canoes.  One-fifth of the city’s residents live in poverty.The slum houses are fashioned from scrap-metal and elevated on stilts to protect against flooding. There is little access to clean water, electricity or quality education. The majority of slums are built along the coast, causing friction with the wealthy as well as the government, which has evicted many communities on faulty logic in order to seize the land.
  1. Manila, Philippines: Manila has a population of 1.7 million and a land area of less than 10 square miles, leading to a high population density of over 170,000 people per square mile. Manila serves as the Philippines capital and home of its banking and commerce industries.In Manila, 600,000 people live in slum districts, which are ridden with disease and malnutrition. Many kids do not attend school, as parents are often forced to choose between feeding the family or sending the kids to school.
  1. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar boasts the highest population density on this list, with over 760,000 people per square mile. The influx in population resulted in unplanned neighborhoods known as “ger” areas, which house 60 percent of Ulaanbaatar’s population but are vulnerable to natural disasters and lack water and sanitation sources as well as electricity.A number of expensive apartment buildings mark the city’s skyline, yet many of these buildings remain empty due to the high cost of living. The government intervention has tended to benefit the upper-income subgroups, rather than those living in poverty.

Poverty and overcrowding are endlessly entwined. Rather than placing a halt on migration and urbanization as many cities have attempted, lack of affordable housing, quality water and sanitation facilities, education opportunity and food shortages ought to be addressed. Cities must respond to the growing demands that come with overcrowding in order to help alleviate poverty and decrease hardship.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr

facts about poverty in ankara
With a population of approximately 5.2 million people, Turkey’s capital city of Ankara is the nation’s second-largest city after Istanbul. Originally planned to hold only around 500,000 people, the urban center has continued to see a high rate of population growth. The city saw a population increase of 6.7 percent between 2014 and 2015 and an overall population increase of 290,000 since 2015.

As more people began moving into the city for job opportunities and a higher quality of life, housing became an issue, especially during the massive growth of the 1950s. The influx of inhabitants outpaced the construction of housing. This issue inevitably led to the building of illegal houses, public housing, compounds and eventually a higher rise in poverty. Here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Ankara.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Ankara

  1. After the population boom of the 1950s, 59 percent of the population of Ankara were living in ‘gecekondu,’ or slum houses, by the late 1960s.
  2. In the Central Anatolia region, where the city of Ankara sits, more than 32 percent of households live in poverty.
  3. More than 26 percent of individuals living in the region live under the poverty line.
  4. Women living in poor households were found to be the most exposed to the effects of poverty from a study conducted in the squatter areas of Ankara.
  5. In poorer neighborhoods, some of these women’s burden was alleviated by transferring it to their daughters.
  6. More than 10 percent of the region is illiterate.
  7. Ankara makes up for 8.63 percent of the national GDP.
  8. Ankara exports very little to Asia or Latin America even though they are the fastest-growing economies in the world.
  9. In 2014, Ankara was found as having the highest annual average equalized household disposable income.
  10. As Turkey continues to expose itself to an over-dependence on investors, Ankara has become a “hostage of its own image as an economically successful state with a stable socio-political system.” Should the country see any changes to this, it would cause capital to leave and an increase in the cost of external debt.

Investing in Ankara

In 2018, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan introduced a series of measures, including tax changes and an increase in the government’s Credit Guarantee Fund, which backs loans to smaller businesses. Erdogan is a self-described “enemy of interest rates” and wants the central bank to lower interest rates. He has commented that he plans to take greater control of the economy to increase and speed up growth.

As Ankara, and Turkey overall, debates and continue to look for solutions to alleviate poverty and grow its economy, one such idea remains at the forefront. During Erdogan’s 2014 presidential campaign, he announced Turkey’s 2023 vision.

Vision For Progress

Called “one of the most important economic project[s] going on in this century,” this plan focuses on six main points. Through concentrated efforts on economics, health care, tourism, transportation, energy and foreign policy, Turkey aims to remake its economic “face” by the 100-year anniversary of the founding of the Turkish republic.

These top 10 facts about poverty in Ankara are being assessed and alleviated through this very ambitious vision. This project will not only help lift the Turkish people but will also greatly benefit the Arab world.

Increases in the volume of trade between Turkey and other Arab nations, specifically Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries, will ease relations between the Turks and Saudis, which could lead to an alliance. Addressing these facts about poverty in Ankara may be the answer alleviating regional tensions.

– Aaron Stein
Photo: Flickr

 Bangalore
Bangalore (officially called Bengaluru) is the capital city of the state of Karnataka in India. Bangalore is known as the fastest-growing city in India and India’s “Silicon Valley.” The rapid growth of Information Technology (IT) and business process outsourcing (BPO) has marked the city with the global economy. With massive growth comes a downside: one-fifth of Bangalore’s population lives in slums.

In 2017, Bangalore had an estimated population of 12.34 million and nearly 25 percent of this population live in slum areas. A rapid shortage of housing and increased demand for manpower in the city has led to the growth and emergence of slums in Bangalore. Here are 10 facts about poverty in Bangalore.

10 Facts About Poverty in Bangalore

  1.  A study titled, “Slums and Urban Welfare in Karnataka’s Development” notes that twenty percent of the city’s population, or around 2.2 million people, live in slums.
  2. The number of slums in Bangalore has grown from 159 in 1971, to over 2000 slums (notified and non-notified) in 2015. Those living in slums accounted for just over 10 percent of the city’s population in 1971 and an estimated 25 to 35 percent in 2015.
  3. Per the survey conducted by Karnataka Slum Development Board 2011, there are 2,804 slum areas in the state; out of which, 597 slum areas are in Bangalore City. It is estimated that the population of the slums in the state is about 40.50 lakhs, which works out to 22.56 percent of the state’s urban population.
  4. According to the 2007 Karnataka Development Report, Karnataka emerged as a leader in foreign investment, being among the three largest recipients of foreign direct investment (FDI) among Indian states. Despite being the largest recipient of FDI, Karnataka has seen growing unemployment, larger numbers to the unorganized work-force and deepening urban poverty.
  5. In Bangalore, nearly one million poor live in slums, and about one-third of slum dwellers fall below the poverty line, with a monthly income of less than Rs 2500 ($55).
  6. The poor in Bangalore live in various habitations and spaces: notified slums, (the government is responsible for providing some basic services to notified slums), non-notified slums, temporary squatter colonies, pavements and railway stations or labor camps that are temporary shelters provided by builders to migrant construction workers.
  7. According to a 2017 study, the median household size in the slums of Bangalore is five and 25 percent of the families have a household size of up to 4 members; 75 percent of the slum dwellers have a household size of up to 6 members. The monthly median income of slum dwellers in Bangalore is around 3,000 INR ($47).
  8. A survey conducted by NGO Fields of View (FoV) showed that more than 70 percent of the families in slums live in debt and are trapped in slums with nowhere to go. The study shows that nearly 80 percent of slum dwellers are from the socio-economically deprived Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe communities, while 11 percent are from forward castes.
  9. The erosion of traditional industries (such as textiles), the decline of the public sector and small-scale industries sector created the urban poor as they lost industrial employment. The rapid expansion of the construction industry and of the almost 100 percent export-oriented, ready-made garment industry, has provided employment to large numbers of poor migrants seeking a living in the city; this “provision,” though, comes with low wages and poor working conditions.
  10. According to the study, it is said that a large number of jobs are now available as drivers of cars and vans run by BPOs and call centers; fleets of rental taxis which serve the new international airport; security and maintenance personnel in malls and supermarkets; low-end jobs in taxi/travel agencies (office boys); and waiters and other support staff in the expanding hospitality industry. Slum dwellers in Bangalore are employed in a wide range of economic activities in the services (auto/bicycle repairing, small eateries, auto-rikshaw driving, head load bearing, domestic work) or in self-employment (pushcart vendors, street side/traffic light sellers, rag pickers and so on).

Room for Improvement

The Karnataka Slum Development Board (KSDB) has succeeded in constructing around 70,000 dwellings for slum-dwellers across the state and 5,000 shelters for people living in slums in Bengaluru. A study indicates that the local activist groups have been somewhat successful in forcing the Government to address issues of housing and other basic amenities. However, for slum residents, government housing projects invariably end up in merely “putting a roof over their poverty.”

As illustrated by these 10 facts about poverty in Bangalore, the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer is a common phenomenon seen in Bangalore. However, ensuring housing is given at low-interest loans, rather than having to fall back on moneylenders, is “one way to improve their standards of living,” said Bharath Palavalli from FoV to The Hindu.

– Preethi Ravi
Photo: Flickr

Slums of Nairobi
Interestingly, 21 out of 25 of the world’s poorest countries are located in Africa. As a result, many families in these nations are forced to live in slums, which are residential areas characterized by insubstantial shelters and unsanitary conditions.

One of the major slums in Africa is the Mukuru Slum in Nairobi, Kenya. Dermot Higgins, a director of the charitable organization, Childaid, spoke to The Borgen Project about his organization and how they are changing lives in this slum, among others.

Poverty in Africa

As home to the world’s poorest nations, poverty in Africa is widespread.

  • Amount Spent Per Day: 47 percent of the African population lived on less than $1.90 per day in 2012.
  • Malnutrition: The Save the Children foundation estimates that two in five African children have stunted growth due to malnutrition.
  • Expected Population Growth: Business Insider approximated that more than half of the population growth that will occur between now and 2050 will take place in Africa, likely resulting in increased poverty and hunger.

The Mukuru Slum

Higgins explained that Childaid is helping to fight poverty in Africa by supporting projects in many different areas, but their main efforts are focused in the Mukuru Slum. According to the Ruben Centre, another organization based in Mukuru, the community was established about 35 years ago by people who worked in the factories nearby. It now holds over 600,000 inhabitants.

  • Physical Conditions: The physical conditions of the slum are rough. Higgins described the environment: “Most families survive in tiny one roomed corrugated iron shacks which measure 3 x 3 meters and have no toilets, electricity or running water. There are few communal toilets and water taps and open sewers run past many of the shacks.”
  • Safety and Health Concerns: Other hardships faced by the slum’s inhabitants are safety and health concerns, Higgins noted. “Diseases are rife in the slums and security is a major concern especially after dark when it is not safe to go out.” The Ruben Center listed malaria, typhoid, dysentery, tuberculosis and AIDS as some of the most common diseases in the slum.
  • Education: The Ruben Center noted that 44 percent of children in the slum drop out of school to work. Even the children that are fortunate enough to attend school have subpar education due to limited funds and materials.

How Childaid Helps

According to their website, “Childaid is a charity that supports child orientated projects which will help them get out of the harsh and brutal conditions of slum life. We strive to improve the welfare of disadvantaged children through education, health and residential care projects.”

  • Building Schools and Sponsoring Students: To improve the quality of education, Childaid is helping by building better schools. “The Kwa Njena primary school, rebuilt and developed by Childaid,” Higgins noted, “is like an oasis in the slum for over 2,000 children who receive education in a safe environment.” The organization also prevents students from dropping out by sponsoring them; Higgins spoke of one of their former students: “One of the past pupils of the schools, who was sponsored by a Childaid volunteer in secondary school and university, recently wrote to thank us. He was qualifying as a pharmacist and planning to buy a house and bring his parents out of the slum.”
  • Providing Food: Childaid is helping to eliminate malnutrition by feeding students in school. Higgins spoke of the charity’s accomplishments: “As a result of Childaid’s work, over 2,000 children are getting educated and fed every day.”
  • Funding and Supporting Institutions: According to Higgins, Childaid is helping by raising money to fund institutions, such as a maternity ward, orphanage, HIV program and skills training center.

Childaid strives to not only help those in Mukuru, but to fight general poverty in Africa. The organization’s impact has been considerable given its new schools, support of other institutions and positive influence on a population of poor children across the continent. Higgins concluded, “It’s very satisfying to see the children getting food, education, love and security in school.”

– Olivia Booth
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo is, by far, Brazil and Latin America’s largest city. The urban population is about 12 million, not including the metropolitan region right outside of Sao Paulo that accounts for about 20 million people. Despite the fact that the city’s commerce accounts for more than 12 percent of Brazil’s total GDP, close to a third of Sao Paulo’s 12 million people live in slum-like conditions.

The combinations of favelas and irregular land subdivisions are glaring symbols of Sao Paulo’s lingering poverty and tremendous inequality; however, while the conditions of Sao Paulo have worsened over the years, there have been some signs of structural improvement. Here are the top 10 facts about poverty in Sao Paulo.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Sao Paulo

  1. Sao Paulo is known as the largest city in the Western Hemisphere and has a poverty rate of 19 percent.
  2. Sao Paulo has a significant income gap between the rich and the poor. In 2000, a study conducted by Sao Paulo University found that half of the state’s population earned only 15 percent of the total income of the state.
  3. Sao Paulo has a gap between skilled workers needed in an industrialized and rapidly growing economy and limited skills available in the workforce. Brazilian employers and companies face increasing competition for skilled workers that limit the opportunities for growth.
  4. Sao Paulo struggles with the housing shortage in which about 1.2 million people live in urban favelas or corticos. Favelas are private or public lands that began as temporary squatter settlements. Corticos are abandoned buildings that are illegally occupied and are typically in precarious states of repair.
  5. Residents in Sao Paulo’s second biggest slum, Paraisopolis (which literally translates to Paradise City), have expressed a strong desire to stay rather than be relocated. This resistance has inspired official Brazilian policy to shift towards slum upgrading rather than slum eradication. Slum upgrading proves to be easier, cheaper, and not to mention, more humane.
  6. One of Sao Paulo’s major goals was to bring electricity, effective sanitation and clean water services to as many urban areas as it could afford; now, almost all favelas have access to clean water services and electricity.
  7. While Paulistanos generally have adequate access to water resources, the water supply system loses about 30 percent of water in distribution.
  8. In 2006, the Sao Paulo Municipal Housing Secretariat created an information database system with the ability to track the developmental statuses of favelas and other precarious settlements. This system allows for the effective targeting of slum upgrade efforts and environmental cleanups.
  9. Transportation issues are amongst the most noticeable signs of Sao Paulo’s difficult infrastructure. The average Paulistano spends about 2 hours per day in traffic jams which costs the city about $23 billion a year. On the other hand, public transportation is notoriously overpriced, overcrowded and uncomfortable.
  10. Government corruption is also known to be a major contributor to the slum-like conditions in Sao Paulo. Frustration with the government’s unmet urban needs have even resulted in protests; however, rather than a source of concern, these protests may be a sign of progress. Local and national governments have responded with efforts to promote transparency of government spending as a a result of these demonstrations.

Favela Reduction

While there have been tremendous efforts towards upgrading the favelas in Sao Paulo, these areas still have a long ways to go.  It is extremely necessary for a collective promotion for the inclusion of both local community leaders and government agencies so as to effectively reduce the number of favelas in Sao Paulo.

– Lolontika Hoque
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Karachi
Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city and is the capital of the Sindh province located in southern Pakistan. Karachi is home to a major seaport on the shores of the Arabian Sea as well as massive commercial and industrial infrastructure. Increased development of air travel, in addition to the foreign traffic maintained by the commercial and financial industries, has made this city important to the overall economy in Pakistan. Regardless of these achievements, the city still faces poverty, which these facts about poverty in Karachi will illuminate.

Facts About Poverty in Karachi

  1. District governments within the city of Karachi do not have the power to increase taxes, which could be used to rectify local issues there. The Provincial Administration maintains the power instead of the taxpayers or the constituent electorate, which creates a democratic deficit within the metropolis.
  2. In regards to such a deficit, there is a notable underperformance in urban development. Foreign business is the largest part of the industry and economy in Karachi. Because of this, the Provincial Administration puts an emphasis on financial districts and expensive urban building for such purposes.
  3. A majority of tax revenue goes towards the seaports, airports, franchise business, stock brokers and telecommunication systems. The emphasis on finance and business distracts from the local problems. Most of the citizens live with social injustices daily, but their tax money is not being used to solve these problems.
  4. In Karachi, residents suffer from congested roads and poorly planned yet expensive public transportation systems. There is effectively no low-cost housing in the city, which has led to the rise of slums. There is also a shortage of water, leaving many without access to water at all, or at least water that is safe to drink.
  5. Many farmers located in the rural parts of the metropolis are deprived of water from irrigation systems. A large percentage of farmers have turned to using water that is mixed with sewage lines in an effort to grow crops. However, the produce that is harvested is often polluted and unsafe for human consumption, an unfortunate truth in the facts about poverty in Karachi.
  6. Policies geared towards the rapid industrialization of Pakistan had aimed to bring the country to its “take-off” stage. These policies, in retrospect, have actually made the rural lower class even poorer. More than ₨. 1 trillion (about $14.6 billion) was spent on infrastructure with the intention of lowering the local poverty rates in Karachi. Due to poor governance and irresponsible planning, much of this money was wasted and inflicted more economic harm on the lower-class citizens.
  7. There is a lack of access to social services and resources in poor households. Fifty percent of the rural population has been left without land, while approximately 75 percent of urban dwellers work in the informal economy.
  8. There are now more than 600 slum areas in Karachi. These slums are notable for hosting criminal activity as well as hiding criminals. In 2014, following the aerial firing on the Karachi airport, the suspects were found hiding in a local slum. Slums like Afghan Basti, Manghopir, Pehlwan Basti and Sohrab Goth are some of the better-known slums hosting criminal activity within Karachi.
  9. According to Inspector General Mushtaq Mehar, approximately 65 percent of the Karachi population lives in a slum. Residents of the slums are typically issued official identity papers, yet it remains difficult to verify and monitor them as many give false information. This makes it challenging to track down the criminals who may be hiding there.
  10. Despite these circumstances, there are many locals who are fighting back against poverty. UNDP’s Youth Employment Project provides employment opportunities as well as job training in the textile/garment industry. Around 30 percent of Karachi’s population is made up of youths aged 15-29. There are more than 5,000 students enrolled in this program. Initiatives such as this help those who cannot afford schooling to receive a valuable education and eventually earn a dependable source of income.

In his paper “Genesis of Urban Poverty”, Tasneem Siddiqui writes: “Poverty was not just about money. It is about access to power. It is deprivation not only in economic terms, but also at the social and political level.” The people of Karachi face this lack of access on a daily basis, one of the driving facts about poverty in Karachi.

The emphasis on business and finance in the city in order to better benefit Pakistan’s foreign affairs has harmed the local community. In doing so, there is a large gap in the socioeconomic ranks. Initiatives like UNDP’s program work to make the best of the given situation; however, until the governing authorities rectify the social and physical injustices, the citizens of Karachi will continue to suffer from this gap.

– Emma Fellows
Photo: Flickr