Life in slumps can be dangerous to the old and young alike. People living in slumps have to contend with many difficult realities and daily struggles for survival. Prominent amongst the observed challenges faced by Slum dwellers includes: high crime rates, poor social amenities; rapid disease spreading due to congestion, inadequate provision of water supply, exposure to drug use and sex trafficking, poor power supply, poor methods of waste disposal, and so on.
It has been observed that a third of the world’s population and most poor and low-income earners find their habitation in slums. Spread of urban slums is notably one of the most serious challenges that human settlements face today especially in the large cities of developing countries.
According to a report, the world’s slumps are growing, with the number of people living in such dire conditions now at the 1 billion mark – making up 32 percent of the global urban population (UN-HABITAT’s new Global Report on Human Settlements, 2015).
Individuals affected mostly by these conditions are the poor, low-income earners and urban migrants. These people with little resources, financial and otherwise, have adopted the option of occupying a piece of vacant land to build rudimentary or make-shift houses found in abandoned areas in cities, or renting houses with poor human living conditions. Notably, many cities in the world are divided by different occupation groups: the very rich and affluent professionals and the suburban middle class unskilled and informal workers, with each having a clear part of the city to themselves; the rich mostly in government reserved areas (GRAs) and the poor living in slumps.
Housing in slumps has since deteriorated, as the original owners in most cases have moved to new or better areas of the cities. the phenomenal rise in population, number and size of our cities over the past few years have manifested in the acute shortage of dwelling units which resulted in overcrowding, high rents, poor urban living conditions, and low infrastructure services and indeed high crime rates.
The people who live in slumps are unable to access quality dwellings, and resorted to settling in shack to structures, while access to water, electricity, sanitation and other basic services and infrastructure tends to be limited.
Such inadequacies place a tremendous negative effect on their quality of lives, and in most cases there are plagued with the threat of demolition and eviction in these substandard houses that are mostly uninhabitable.
However, it is also been observed that poor people need to live at high densities in poor quality dwellings in order to afford housing accessible to income earning opportunities, which makes it a better alternative for them. It is estimated that about 1 billion people currently live in slump settlements– almost a third of the world’s urban population – and this could increase to 3 billion by 2050 (UN DESA, 2013). Slumps are found in almost every society in the world, with developing countries showing the lowest income groups and associated with starvation and misery. Most prominent are communities in South Asia and Sub- Saharan Africa (UN-Habitat, 2014). These are the world’s two poorest regions.
Slumps are mostly created as a result of the government’s inability to develop formal shelter delivery systems to cope with demand of the population increase and a shortage in adequate social infrastructure, and this has been the major force behind the increase settlement in slums.
The challenges are severe and devastating to the inhabitants, and the government of every society should develop and implement programs that would help curb the spread of slumps, in order to reduce crime, poverty and improve the quality of life of its citizens.