Slum Rising Offers Shift in Thought about Slums

Slum Rising Challenges Concepts of Slums
Slums, the vast range of informal housing settlements in developing countries, are largely the result of rapid urbanization, weak housing institutions, and increasing urban poverty. Though often marked by harsh living conditions, lack of sanitation, and no clean water or electricity, popular perceptions of slums tend to reflect misconceptions about and prejudices against the urban poor.

Abby Higgins, a travel writer and journalist, is working to change this one sided discussion on urban slums and their dwellers. After living in Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum, for two years, Higgins was moved by the way her pre-conceived ideas about Kibera vastly differed from its reality. In Kibera, she found a thriving, unified community, rich culture and strong innovative techniques used to negate the constraints of living in a slum.

Her three-part series, Slum Rising, attempts to shift the conversation about slums from “objects of pity to complex parts of a global economy.” Brought to life through a combination of writing and photography, Kibera’s stories are told in three parts. Part one tells the tale of Higgins’s introduction to Kibera and ends with reflection on outsider perceptions versus realities in today’s slums. Part two highlights slums as centers of innovation and creation. Part three tells the stories of unsuccessful government housing plans and helpful alternatives to relocation.

Slum Rising has been featured in the Seattle Times, One’s blog and Good Magazine. You can read the series and experience the movement here.

– Tara Young

Sources: UN Habitat, World Vision, Share the World’s Resources, Seattle Globalist
Photo: Kickstarter