Slums are Manifestation of Urban Poverty

Slums are a physical and spatial manifestation of urban poverty and intra-city inequality. However, slums do not accommodate all of the urban poor nor are all slum dwellers always poor.

 In India, no city worth its name is free of slum population. In fact, it is a global phenomenon.

According to United nations,In 2001, 924 million people, or 31.6 percent of the world’s urban population, lived in slums. The majority of these people were in the developing regions, accounting for 43 per cent of the urban population, in contrast to 6 percent in more developed regions. Within the developing regions, sub-Saharan Africa had the largest proportion of the urban population resident in slums in 2001 (71.9 per cent) and Oceania had the lowest (24.1 per cent). In between these were South-central Asia (58 per cent), Eastern Asia (36.4 per cent), Western Asia (33.1 per cent), Latin America and the Caribbean (31.9 per cent), Northern Africa (28.2 per cent) and Southeast Asia (28 per cent).

 The National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) estimates that the slum dwellers’ tally has increased over the last ten years. In 1993, 60 lakh urban households lived in slums. By ‘2002, when the last survey was conducted, the number had increased to 80 lakh households. Take the average size of a household at five, and you’ve got 4 crore of the 28.5-crore people in urban areas, living in pitiable conditions. And if you estimate that even half the population living in slums will vote, its easy to understand why they’re such a valuable asset for politicians.

 With respect to absolute numbers of slum dwellers, Asia (all of its sub-regions combined) dominated the global picture, having a total of 554 million slum dwellers in 2001 (about 60 percent of the world’s total slum dwellers). Africa had a total of 187 million slum dwellers (about 20 percent of the world’s total), while Latin America and the Caribbean had 128 million slum dwellers (about 14 percent of the world’s total) and Europe and other developed countries had 54 million slum dwellers (about 6 percent of the world’s total).

 It is projected that, in the next 30 years, the global number of slum dwellers will increase to about 2 billion, if no firm and concrete action are taken. The urban population in less developed regions increased by 36 per cent in the last decade. It can be assumed that the number of urban households increased by a similar ratio. It seems very unlikely that a slum improvement or formal construction kept pace to any degree with this increase, as very few developing countries had formal residential building programmes of any size, so it is likely that the number of households in informal settlements increased by more than 36 percent. However, it is clear that trends in different parts of the world varied from this overall pattern.

 They are urban areas that are heavily populated with substandard housing and very poor living conditions. As a result, several problems arise.

 Land Insecurity 

Slums are usually located on land, which are not owned by the slum dwellers. They can be evicted at any time by the landowners.

 Poor Living Conditions

Crowding and lack of sanitation are main problems.This contributes to outbreak of diseases. Utilities such as water, electricity and sewage disposal is also scarce.

Since the number of people competing for jobs is more than jobs available, unemployment is an inevitable problem.


Slum conditions make maintenance of law and order difficult. Patrolling of slums is not a priority of law enforcing officers. Unemployment and poverty force people into anti-social activities. Slums have become a breeding ground for criminal activities.

Read more

Pros and Cons of Urbanization

Metropolitan Cities of India


About Rashid Faridi

I am Rashid Aziz Faridi ,Writer, Teacher and a Voracious Reader.
This entry was posted in Human Geography, opinions, Settlements, Urban Studies. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Slums are Manifestation of Urban Poverty

  1. Pingback: Causes of Urbanization: An Analysis | Rashid's Blog

  2. Thank you for sharing. I know and agree with all you had said. I have been there, am there and likewise feel to be of service to the angels and the humans. Thank you for being you.


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