Favellas – Brazil (photo CRDI P. St Jacques )
For a few decades, a huge urbanisation is concerning more and more cities in full development.In megalopolies, problems are the most alarming. Enormous shanty towns are build, causing dramatic problemes both in social level and economical ones. The evolution of shanty town is very fast and overwelming the town organisation : in 1952, 14 % of urban population was living in shanty town, in 1966 it was 46 %, that represents 1.5 million people. In Buenaventura in Colombia, the proportion was 80% in 1964.
Natural increase is one reason for its growth (this is when the birth rate is higher than the death rate). The population has also grown as the result of urbanisation , caused by rural desertfication. Million of people has migrated from rural areas to cities. New migrants cannot afford housing.They are obliged to build temporary accomodation in spontaneous settlements. This situation has created a demografic explosion in cities and have for consequences to feed unplanned suburbs.Houses are built from scrap materials such as wood and metal sheeting.Often people don’t have sanitation, water or electricity, usually settlements are overcrowded.
Picture of Manilla
Populations living in shanty town, have to live with important daily problems : crimes, poverty, no drinking water, no sewers, public services inexistant… In Sao Paulo,only 2/3 have drinking water, and infant mortality is three time higher than in rich suburbs.They are located on the edge of most cities for a number of reasons. Firstly, this is the only available land to build on within the city limits. Secondly, industry is located on the edge of the cities. Many people need jobs therefore they locate close to factories. Some of these settlements may be 40 or 50 km from the city centre (on the edge of the city), along main roads and up very steep hillsides. People living in those suburds have to get rid of problems that we described insurmontable: in Mexico people have to do 2 hours of bus to be in the city centre, the police are not present and pollution is so considerable that children have to stay inside for days.
In Manila, official capital of Philippines a fire in a slum area had destroyed 2,500 dwellings and left 22,000 people homeless. Authorities had difficulty in getting access to the flames because the shacks were built so close together with very narrow paths in between.
Solutions to shanty towns problems exist, the first is maybe concertation between inhabitants and people dealing with this problem of the administration of the town. The international cooperation can help with money and knowledge and people’s teams who come to tackle the problem. The authorities can take a number of steps to reduce problems in shanty towns, they can provide local residents with the materials needed to construct permanent accomodation and sanitories facilities.