Skip to main content

The World is a Ghetto: Global Slums - Out of Sight and out of Mind: Deterioration of the Human Condition.

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Decrepit And Deteriorated Human Existential Conditions

Slums In south Africa: Despite "Affirmative Action", many people still live in slums.. A concept lifted from American colloquialism..

Slums In south Africa: Despite "Affirmative Action", many people still live in slums.. A concept lifted from American colloquialism..

Nigerian Slums: Whither Nira?

Nigerian Slums: Whither Nira?

Slums In The Phillippines: Pig-Sy As Human Habitat

Slums In The Phillippines: Pig-Sy As Human Habitat

Jakarta Slums: Oppulence and Wealth Rising In The Horizons as mise-en-scene

Jakarta Slums: Oppulence and Wealth Rising In The Horizons as mise-en-scene

Haitian Slums Known As Korda : Hell On Earth Existence...

Haitian Slums Known As Korda : Hell On Earth Existence...

Abahlali fbaseMjondlolos direct message to the ANC-led government: "No Land, No House No Vote" has the African government attacking and killing some of these poor peoples... On the Picture in a euphoric and demonstrating mode

Abahlali fbaseMjondlolos direct message to the ANC-led government: "No Land, No House No Vote" has the African government attacking and killing some of these poor peoples... On the Picture in a euphoric and demonstrating mode

The Shack-Dwellers message is clear: No Land! No House! No Vote!...

The Shack-Dwellers message is clear: No Land! No House! No Vote!...

The slum dwellers holding a rally in the background of the Shacks...

The slum dwellers holding a rally in the background of the Shacks...

Camden New Jersey, USA; A serious scene of Urban Decay still going on today

Camden New Jersey, USA; A serious scene of Urban Decay still going on today

Govanhill's is a breeding ground for exploitation,crime, poor health and education and cockroaches in Scotland .

Govanhill's is a breeding ground for exploitation,crime, poor health and education and cockroaches in Scotland .

Manchester, England 1970

Manchester, England 1970

Regent Park North in Toronto, Canada. It is the first and largest public housing project. It is also one of Toronto's worst slums. It qualifies as being the worst slum in North America. It is now in the process of being redeveloped

Regent Park North in Toronto, Canada. It is the first and largest public housing project. It is also one of Toronto's worst slums. It qualifies as being the worst slum in North America. It is now in the process of being redeveloped

Homeless in Osaka, Japan. There are about 25,000 people homeless in Osaka. The entrance of the area's largest shelter, with 20-foot pale green metal walls dominating the park

Homeless in Osaka, Japan. There are about 25,000 people homeless in Osaka. The entrance of the area's largest shelter, with 20-foot pale green metal walls dominating the park

A stream of homeless men arriving at  the area's largest shelter in Airin's dirt covered park; these men with greying hair and thick coats warming themselves, around a fire as others rummaged through the piles of trash, in Japan.

A stream of homeless men arriving at the area's largest shelter in Airin's dirt covered park; these men with greying hair and thick coats warming themselves, around a fire as others rummaged through the piles of trash, in Japan.

One of Africa's biggest slum and sprawl called Kibera

One of Africa's biggest slum and sprawl called Kibera

Barrios, Caracas, Venezuela

Barrios, Caracas, Venezuela

Slums in Sao Paulo. Slums such as these one have more than 35,000 inhabitants

Slums in Sao Paulo. Slums such as these one have more than 35,000 inhabitants

Dharavi Slums near the Sewer

Dharavi Slums near the Sewer

The Dharavi slums of Mumbai, India; It is said to be the largest slum in Asia

The Dharavi slums of Mumbai, India; It is said to be the largest slum in Asia

Manila Slum in the Philippines

Manila Slum in the Philippines

Scroll to Continue
Manila Slums

Manila Slums

The slums in Jakarta

The slums in Jakarta

Jakarta Slums

Jakarta Slums

A Global View of HIV Infection from 2006-2008. It is important to look at the adult prevalence color key on the bottom of the left on the Map. It is also important to note how some of the areas where slums are located are affected just as much

A Global View of HIV Infection from 2006-2008. It is important to look at the adult prevalence color key on the bottom of the left on the Map. It is also important to note how some of the areas where slums are located are affected just as much

James Sofasonke Mpanza riding on one of his "Racing Horses"-of which he had several more, and is known as  the Father Of Soweto

James Sofasonke Mpanza riding on one of his "Racing Horses"-of which he had several more, and is known as the Father Of Soweto

Shack-dwellers building their sack hovels which James Mpanza fought against and got them half-way decent housing

Shack-dwellers building their sack hovels which James Mpanza fought against and got them half-way decent housing

The Evolution Of The Post Apartheid African Community

It has been estimated that more than one to two billion human beings live in slums or shanty towns all over the world. One in every three people in the world will live in slums in the next coming twenty to thirty years, unless all the governments control unprecedented urban growth. A Report from the United dNations settlements program, UN-habitat, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya, they found that urban slums were growing faster than expected, and that the balance of global poverty was shifting rapidly from countryside to the big cities.

The problem of slums is that the problems they present cannot be solved immediately. Slums or 'squatters' are a global problem and growing because of exponential growth and population expansion which ultimately forces a disproportionate number of people into seriously untenable living conditions.

The conditions of slums and slum dwelling exist because of colonial exploitation, economic isolation, political anarchy, sectarian violence and many other different debilitating conditions that do not affect those in developing countries, or not as drastically as it affects those in developing countries. The defining characteristics of these new Megaslums is morphological. When these nation states collapse due to war or corruption, this makes land dangerous to occupy and make productive.

The Evolution Of The Post Apartheid African Community

It has been estimated that more than one to two billion human beings live in slums or shanty towns all over the world. One in every three people in the world will live in slums in the next coming twenty to thirty years, unless all the governments control unprecedented urban growth. A Report from the United dNations settlements program, UN-habitat, which is based in Nairobi, Kenya, they found that urban slums were growing faster than expected, and that the balance of global poverty was shifting rapidly from countryside to the big cities.

The problem of slums is that the problems they present cannot be solved immediately. Slums or 'squatters' are a global problem and growing because of exponential growth and population expansion which ultimately forces a disproportionate number of people into seriously untenable living conditions.

The conditions of slums and slum dwelling exist because of colonial exploitation, economic isolation, political anarchy, sectarian violence and many other different debilitating conditions that do not affect those in developing countries, or not as drastically as it affects those in developing countries. The defining characteristics of these new Megaslums is morphological. When these nation states collapse due to war or corruption, this makes land dangerous to occupy and make productive.

For Example, The war in the Congo from 1998-2003, killed approximately 4 million people, and the presence of centralized Western Aid Bureaucracies make suffering poverty and housing needs easier than help to radically change the situation.(US GAO office) Throughout the world these slums are built literally out of rubbish, discarded metal, cardboard, tarp, old and rotting wood, etc.

These houses of are made in such a way that they are to be built quickly and rebuilt rapidly. Globally slum living is very precarious because the people who live in slums are forever at war with the local governments and consistently being thrown out of their only shelters, repeatedly, and the local planning agencies might be very slow in meeting the needs of the swelling masses in tin-can houses, and are also making state land ownership and use it to provide adequate housing, impossible.

Hunger in the Slums

Hunger is an invisible killer, silently exacting its toll on humanity — particularly infants and children most of whom come from poor, homeless and displaced families. James P. Grant, executive director of UNICEF said:

"Some 15 million small children die each year.....

"They die very quietly; one hears very little about them: they come from the world's poorest familys, who themselves are the weakest and most powerless members of those powerless families. Just last month ... there was this terrible earthquake in Algeria where 12,000 people died [that] made the front page of every paper, yet some 35,000 small children died that day needlessly from the silent emergency - almost triple that, but it did not make the headlines.

"What is this "normal" hunger, not part of an outright famine, that accounts for the vast majority of the 13-18 million deaths from hunger and hunger related diseases each year?" (Shirley Foster) These are just statistics, but also they are a reality of our day-to-day lives, today.

The conditions and the infrastructure of the slums facilitates for the spread of all types of diseases, hunger and malnutrition, lack of quality health care and nutritional foods. Diseases like HIV/AIDS have become a global problem. Every country in the world people are dying from the AIDS epidemic These people with the disease are seen as having a very big problem that is too big to be successfully combated, or it is maybe someone else's problem. Here are some of the statistics of HIV and AIDS:

HIV infection rates have decreased in some countries as of November 21, 2005. However, the number of individuals worldwide who are living with AIDS continues to rise. Kenya and Zimbabwe are two African nations that have seen a decrease in HIV prevalence.

  • 40.3 Million people are living with HIV
  • Over 3 million people died of AIDS-related illnesses in 2005
  • More than 500,000 children died in 2005 from AIDS-related illnesses

Sub-Saharan Africa continues to have the highest incidence of HIV and AIDS. Although Sub-Saharan Africa is home to just over 10% of the world's population, more than 60% of all people living with HIV call this Area home. And a higher percentage of them live in slums and underdeveloped, poverty stricken and disease-ridden enclaves.

  • 64% of new HIV infections occur in Sub-Saharan Africa (3.2 million people)
  • 25.8 million people are living with HIV is Sub-Saharan Africa
  • 2.4 million died of AIDS in 2005 in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • 7.2% of the adult population in Sub-Saharan Africa have Aids

South Africa(these statistics are as of the end of 2003)

South Africa has the largest number of people living with HIV/AIDS in the wold.

  • 5.1 million people are living with HIV in South Africa
  • 21.5% of adults in south Africa are living with HIV
  • 370,000 people died of AiDS in South Africa
  • 1.1 million Aids orphans in south Africa

Kenya(statistics as of the end of 2003)

  • 1.1 million people are living with HIV in Kenya
  • 6.7% of adults in Kenya are living with HIV
  • 150,000 people died of AIDS in Kenya
  • 650,000 AIDS orphans in Kenya

The statistics above have been provided by UNAIDS/WHO Publications in 2005. UNAIDS noted that the AIDS epidemic continues to outpace the response as the estimated number of adults and children living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia region has doubled since 2001. Nearly 1.5 million people are living with HIV and the majority of them live in Russia and Ukraine. UNAIDS is very concerned that Eastern Europe and Central Asia is the only region of the world where HIV prevalence clearly remains on the rise.

The UNAIDS report of 2008 on global AIDs epidemic, about 1.5 million people were estimated to be living with HIV in Eastern Europe and Central Asia in 2007; almost 90% of them living in either the Russian Federation or Ukraine. Although HIV epidemic in the Russian Federation is the largest in the region, there are rising numbers in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan. Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldavia, Tajikstan and Uzbekistan.Overall Regional/Global HIV/AIDS Statistics:

  • Sub-Saharan Africa- 22.0 million with AIDS; 1.9 million new Infections; 5.0% adult prevalence; 1.5 million child/adult deaths.
  • South/Southeast Asia-4.2 million with AIDs; New infections 330,000; 0.3% adult/child prevalence; 340,000 adult/child deaths.
  • Eastern Europe/Central Asia- 1.5 Million with AIDS; new infections 110,000; 0.8% adult/child prevalence; adult/child deaths 58,000.
  • Latin America- 1.7 million with AIDS; 140,000 new infections; 0.5% adult/child prevalence; 63,000 adult/child deaths.
  • North America- 1.2 million with AIDS; 54,000 new infections; 0.6% adult prevalence; 23,000 child/adult deaths.
  • East Asia- 740 with AIDS; 52,000 new infections; 0.1% adult/child prevalence; 40,000 adult/child deaths.
  • Western/Central Europe- 730,000 with AIDS; 27,000 with new infections; 0.3% adult/child prevalence; 8,000 adult/child deaths.
  • Middle East/North Africa- 380,000 with AIDS; 40,000 new infections; 0.3% adult/child prevalence; 27,000 adult/child deaths.
  • Caribbean-230,000 with AIDS; 20,000 new infections; 1.1% adult/child prevalence; 14,000 adult/child deaths.
  • These statistics were done by UNAIDS/WHO in the 2008 Report. Please see their Global map provided by WHO in 2007 in the hub's picture gallery.

If one were to pay attention to this pandemic, it will be much more clearer when we take a peek at contemporary societies and their present day problems, as these slum conditions are affected and effected by and conversely affect and effect population explosion in a global scale; populations living in decrepit conditions throughout the world are affected; governments cannot cope or moving fast enough, and the whole dialectic repeats itself over and over again, for hundreds and hundreds of years.

Meanwhile, the slums fester and grow bigger, and with the global economic meltdown, the conditions are becoming sorely desperate. It would be appropriate to casually explore and closely interrogate the existence of slums and their specific problems globally. One cannot do justice to this topic, because slums are not in one specific continent, but are global in existence, yet present similar characteristics based on their proximity to the bourgeoning cities.

Characteristics of a Slum:

As the pictures in the Hub gallery show, that a slum is a cluster of compact settlements of five or more households which generally grow very unsystematically and haphazardly in an unhealthy condition and atmosphere on government and private land. Slums also exist in the owner-based household premises. A United Nations Group has created an operational definition of a slum as an area that combines to various extents the following characteristics:

  1. inadequate access to safe water
  2. inadequate access to sanitation and other infrastructure
  3. poor structural quality housing
  4. overcrowding
  5. insecure residential status
  6. the low socioeconomic status of its residents

There are other common characteristics associated with slums and they vary from context to context and form country to country. Some of these are:

  • Slums are usually characterized by urban blight and by high rates of poverty and unemployment.
  • They are commonly seen as "breeding grounds" for social problems such as crime, drug addiction, alcoholism, high rates of mental illness and suicide.
  • In many poor countries they exhibit high rates of disease due to unsanitary conditions,malnutrition, and lack basic health care.
  • In many slums, especially in poor countries, many live in very narrow alleys that do not allow vehicles(like ambulances and fire trucks) to pass.
  • The lack of services such as routine garbage collection allows rubbish to accumulate in huge quantities.
  • The lack of infrastructure is caused by the informal nature of the settlements and no planning for the poor by government officials.
  • Many slum-dwellers employ themselves in the informal economy. This can include street vending, drug dealing, domestic work, etc.
  • In some slums, people even recycle trash of different kinds(from household garbage to electronics) for living — selling either the odd usable goods or stripping broken goods for parts or raw materials. This has debilitating and hazardous effects to the people employed to these tasks
  • Generally slum settlements grow on government and semi-government land or lots. Vacant land and public owned places become slums too. Including these are the abandoned buildings/places or by the side of the road.
  • Slum housing materials are very cheap and of low quality such as old gummy polythene bags, straw, corrugated zinc, card boxes, rocks and stones and so forth.
  • In the case of the US, you see abandoned flats or apartments where the poor folks make it their homes.
165th street and College Avenue, Bronx, NYC.It was the most dangerous

165th street and College Avenue, Bronx, NYC.It was the most dangerous

Camden New Jersey, USA; A serious scene of Urban Decay still going on today

Camden New Jersey, USA; A serious scene of Urban Decay still going on today

The world is Still a Ghetto and Slum today

In the United States, most of the "looking like after war" slums or ghettoes, have now mostly been razed to the ground and some have been rehabbed. The rest has been built anew especially in the Bronx and Harlem. There are still slums in America and they still follow the characteristics described by the UN above. Take Camden, New Jersey, for example, there are a lot of boarded houses and there are also signs of construction. About $175 million has been pledged for its rebuilding by the State and local government. In 2004-2005 North Camden was dubbed the most dangerous city in America. It is currently under renovation.

Kibera

In the slums of Nairobi you'll find appalling slum conditions. There is a stench in the air, toilets dug or moving with any flowing water, excrement in plastic bags, garbage dangling from trees, piled-up or burning; animals foraging in the debris; aborted fuses; dead animal carcasses, and garbage composed of all sorts of rubbish garbage, dead animal bodies, excrement and the whole bit washing into a stream. This in turn is affecting the environment. It is estimated that it would take about $50 million to recycle and get rid of the rubbish and garbage.

Sao Paolo

The Shantytowns are built of cardboard and scraps of wood and there is no sanitation or running water, and the slums fit-in the spaces between smarter neighborhoods. This city was thrown together and traffic flow was ensured. Elevated freeways and overpasses are often squeezed very close to the buildings that people in cars can see the slum dwellers watching television fro their apartments or houses. Traffic jams which go on for hundreds of miles are not an uncommon occurrences.

Approximately 80,000 people live in this slum and there are gangs who are responsible for and they control the drug trades in numerous slums. The metropolitan city of Sao Paulo has 23 million inhabitants, and it is one of the richest and largest cities in Latin America. Those working in the city whether in formal or informal economies have a hard time meeting their basic needs.

Those who do not have title to their lands are at the mercy of living in tenements manipulated by unscrupulous middle men, and there are those who live in the streets because they have on other option. The city has renovated some occupied properties and renovated them for low income tenants and owners.

Govanhill Slum

Slum houses of Govanhill involves some 131 flats in the area bounded by Westmoreland Street, Dixon Avenue, Langside Road and Allison Street, and the residents call it "Ground Zero" and it needs comprehensive improvement. Govanhill is plagued by severe , and its existence creates severe dangers to public health, fire risks, anti-social behavior overcrowding, substandard dwelling which are properties of slum landlords and rogue landlords linked to landlords.

Those mainly affected are 2000 European Union migrants, mostly Roma, from Easter Europe and lack of government support for them. The HM Revenue and Customs are investigating into gang masters operating in the city. The Holyrod's Public Petitions committee in a petition warned:

"The levels of substandard housing have become a breeding ground for crime, exploitation, poor health, poor educational attainment and cockroach infestations impacting directly on most vulnerable residents in the community and in particular, the new Roma residents who have no choice but to live in these conditions. These social impacts are also beginning to threaten the sustain-ability of the improved tenement stock as private landlords begin to expand their activities by acquiring from private owners desperate to leave the area." Suggestions have been made for some improvements.

Regent Park: The Ghetto

Through the Late 40's-early 50's, Regent was implemented and expanded becoming Canada's first social engineering project. The apartments were for people who were experiencing financial difficulties. Regent Park started attracting adoptive citizens, and by the 90's 7 in 10 residents in Regent were minorities. With the passing years it depreciated in value as poverty and unemployment rates soared, then there were higher rates of social ills, crime, gang operations, violence and drug abuse were on the rise.

Canada's Regents Park Statistics:

  • 70% of Regent Park lives in poverty(below Statistic's Canada's Low-income Cut-off rate)
  • Average income for Regent's residents is approximately half that of general Torontians
  • 20% of individuals in Regent Park reported having no income at all
  • 50% of the population living in Regent Park are 18 years old or younger(the Toronto-wide average is approximately 30%)
  • Only 10% of residents in Regent have successfully completed university

Recently the population has be dwindling and people are moved out so as to demolish and revitalize the area.