What are slums?
The word “slum” is often used to describe informal settlements within cities that have inadequate housing and squalid, miserable
living conditions. They are often overcrowded, with many people crammed into very small living spaces.
Common names for slums:*
· Barrio or tugurio (Latin America)
· Basti (Bangladesh)
· Bidonville (France/Africa)
· Favela (Brazil)
· Kampung (Indonesia)
· Katchi abadi (Pakistan)
· Masseque (Angola)
· Skid row
· Squatter cities
These settlements lack basic municipal services such as water, sanitation, waste collection, storm drainage, street lighting, paved sidewalks and roads for emergency access. Most also don’t have easy access to schools, hospitals or public places for the community to gather.
Like all informal settlements, housing in slums is built on land that the occupant does not have a legal claim to and without any urban planning or adherence to zoning regulations. In addition, slums are often areas where many social indicators are on a downward slide; for example, crime and unemployment are on the rise.
All slums are not the same, and some provide better living conditions than others. Likewise, slum dwellers are not a homogeneous population, but a diverse group of people with different interests, means and backgrounds.
Slums are also a significant economic force. In many cities, as much as 60 percent of employment is in the informal sector of the urban population.
Today, more than one billion people in the world live in slums. In the developing world, one out of every three people living in cities lives in a slum.