More than a billion people worldwide live in overcrowded urban slums without permanent access to water, electricity, sanitation, or garbage disposal. By mid-century, there will be 3 billion people in slums, half of the increase in slum population in eight countries: Nigeria, the Philippines, Ethiopia, Tanzania, India, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, and Pakistan.
UN-Habitat notes that the fight against urban poverty and inequality is more urgent than ever before. Previously, housing shortages were seen as a problem in developing countries, but now they have become a global crisis, affecting the United States, Britain, Germany, and other wealthy nations.
Data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) show that housing costs are rising faster than incomes in many OECD countries in recent years. UN officials say that by 2050 the proportion of urban dwellers will increase to 70% of the world’s population.
Joseph Muturi, chairman of the association of slum dwellers from 18 countries Slum Dwellers International, proposed to solve the problem through the improvement of disadvantaged areas, rather than by settling slums in new housing outside cities. According to him, previous experiences of families moving into poorly serviced neighborhoods on the urban fringes had forced people to return to their previous places of residence.
“When you relocate people, you’re also destroying the social fabric that these communities have been building for decades. The best solution is to improve the slums locally. You have to engage with the slum dwellers, provide them with housing and the necessary amenities,” Joseph Muturi stressed.
How to solve the problem of overcrowded urban areas?
1. Improve slums locally. This will preserve the social fabric of communities built up over decades and provide housing and necessary amenities.
2. Development of infrastructure in cities. It is necessary to increase the availability of water, electricity, sanitation, and garbage disposal.
3. Creation of new jobs. This will help people earn a living and reduce the number of poor people in cities.
4. Cooperation with slum dwellers. It is necessary to interact with them in order to understand their needs and provide them with the necessary assistance.
5. Development of public policies to solve the problem of slums. Governments should develop programs that will help solve the problem of overcrowded urban areas.