Valley Slum, Nairobi, Kenya

What does the future hold for urbanism? We are somewhat educated in the field of urbanism but studying urban methodology, street patterns, Lynch and urban design is merely a drop in the bucket. Cities are living organisms and here ‘in the western world’ they can be regulated rather easily but it will take more than urbanism to regulate a growing number of sheds and tents of shanty towns and slums. Of course we can not predict the future, but squatter settlings will inevitably be a big part of it. Cities like Buenos Aires, Kinshasa, Dhaka and São Paulo all contain huge areas inhabited by an increasingly poor population that simply have no choice but to live there. Urban life was created by humans for humans but has long ago muted into a new, harsh ecosystem that is a melting pot of diseases, natural disasters and fuckups caused by big international funding organizations that created them in the first place.


Iztapalapa, Mexico City, Mexico

The root of the problems with slums lies in their history caused by well… the way world works today. We can not entirely blame particular organizations for pushing millions of people to city edges but they certainly had loads to do with it. The initial problem isn’t that Third World cities (countries) get support from the First World, it’s the way the support is offered that makes all the difference. In those parts of the world funding of farmers and accenting rural development would be the right path to take once their economic independence is surrendered to the IMF (International Monetary Organization) and the World Bank. What happens way too often (also safe to claim: nearly every time) is that these funding organizations favor competition and export-oriented production – that game can not be played in economically vulnerable countries. People are therefore forced to leave the countryside and settle in an urban environment. More than 200.000 people migrate _PER DAY_ from the rural areas – that makes 1.4 MILLION people per week or 7 million people every year.

Check out this very informing video.

TED Talk: Robert Neuwirth - 'The shadow cities of the future'

Not only can they not have a decent living but often those settlings are built on fragile ground in areas where natural disasters take place frequently. Massive engineering projects may be the solution for Tokyo and LA, but slums do not get that attention and are usually left unattended until something huge happens and thousands of people die. But in most of the cases a natural catastrophe will leave more than material devastation behind. When big floods occur and the madness settles down, mosquitoes take over and diseases spread.

”The conditions creating the slums—greed, inequity, poor planning, and disrespect for human rights—are human forces, but they tend to intensify the Earth’s natural forces. Those forces, ecological and biological, don’t always behave as predictably as we would like, or stay within their bounds.”


I don’t want to leave any information out so read the full article at Orion Magazine.



Favela in Belo Horizonte, Brazil  .

And here are some facts from The World Health Organization:

1. Of the three billion people who live in urban settings, an estimated one billion live in slums.

2. An estimated 130 000 premature deaths and 50–70 million incidents of respiratory illness occur each year due to episodes of urban air pollution in developing countries, half of them in East Asia.

3. An estimated 150 000 children are living and working on the streets in China.

4. In Nairobi, where 60% of the city’s population lives in slums, child mortality in the slums is 2.5 times greater than in other areas of the city.

5. In spite of nightmarish congestion, motor vehicle use in developing cities is soaring. In 1980, the third world accounted for only 18% of global vehicle ownership; by 2020 about half of the world’s projected 1.3 billion cars, trucks and buses will clog the streets and alleys of poorer countries.

6. The World Health Organization considers traffic to be one of the worst health hazards facing the urban poor, and predicts that road accidents by 2020 will be the third leading cause of death.

7. Breathing Mumbai’s air is the equivalent of smoking two-and-one-half packs of cigarettes per day.

8. In Kumasi, Ghana, a country which privatized public toilets in the 1990s, private toilet use once a day for a family costs 10% of the basic wage.

9. In Quito, Ecuador, infant mortality is 30 times higher in the slums than in wealthier neighborhoods.

10. In Kenyan slums such as Mathare it costs US6c for every visit to a privatized toilet: this is too expensive for most poor people, who prefer to defecate in the open and spend their money on water or food.


(via: Orion Magazine)


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