The process of urbanisation has led to the emergence of slums, multi-faceted places where human rights and access to basic services are not guaranteed. Slums symbolise the deep social inequalities within the world’s cities and have become increasingly important. The term Slumisation has now been coined to refer to the costs of urbanisation.
What is a slum?
A slum (or Bidonville, favelas, barriadas, shantytowns, etc.) is an urban settlement characterised by overcrowding and poor or informal housing facilities with inadequate access to clean water and sanitation, as well as poor security of tenure. In other words, slum areas are degraded suburbs that are an expression of urban decay but above all of social injustice. There are also mega-slums: when slums and squatter communities merge into continuous bands of poor shelters and misery.
Most of the world’s slums have developed since the 1960s, and accurate statistics are difficult to come by today because slum populations are often deliberately underestimated by the authorities.
From a social perspective, slum dwellers face challenges due to inadequate infrastructure and housing, dangerous locations, social and economic exclusion, as well as violence and insecurity. Therefore, the risk of creating ‘spatial poverty traps’ that result in an unacceptable waste of human potential through social, economic and political exclusion.
Terms such as slums or favelas did not originally have a meaning related to the urban environment. Slum simply meant ‘space’. Favela is a small white-flowered shrub common in some South American regions. Often these terms were coined through nicknames used in a derogatory manner by the classes living in the so-called ‘uptown’.
Opportunities to volunteer in the slums areas 🏚️
If you are a host, or a community, or an organization looking for volunteers to help you in the slums areas, feel free to add your listing.