Shanty town

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Picture of a Petare town created because of the rural flight to Caracas. Barrio de Caracas.jpg
Picture of a Petare town created because of the rural flight to Caracas.

A shanty town or squatter area is a settlement of improvised buildings known as shanties or shacks, typically made of materials such as mud and wood. A typical shanty town is squatted and in the beginning lacks adequate infrastructure, including proper sanitation, safe water supply, electricity and street drainage. Over time, shanty towns can develop their infrastructure and even change into middle class neighbourhoods. They can be small informal settlements or they can house millions of people.

Contents

Globally, some of the largest shanty towns are Ciudad Neza in Mexico, Orangi in Pakistan and Dharavi in India. They are known by various names in different places, such as favela in Brazil, villa miseria in Argentina and gecekondu in Turkey. Shanty towns are mostly found in developing nations, but also in the cities of developed nations, such as Athens, Los Angeles, and Madrid. Cañada Real is considered the largest informal settlement in Europe, and Skid Row is an infamous shanty town in Los Angeles. Shanty towns are usually found on places such as railway sidings, swampland or disputed building projects.

Construction

Shanty towns sometimes have an active informal economy, such as garbage sorting, pottery making, textiles, and leather works. This allows the poor to earn an income. The above shanty town image is from Ezbet Al Nakhl, in Cairo, Egypt, where garbage is sorted manually. Residential area is visible at the top of the image. Mullgebiet Ezbet Al Nakhl.jpg
Shanty towns sometimes have an active informal economy, such as garbage sorting, pottery making, textiles, and leather works. This allows the poor to earn an income. The above shanty town image is from Ezbet Al Nakhl, in Cairo, Egypt, where garbage is sorted manually. Residential area is visible at the top of the image.

Shanty towns tend to begin as improvised shelters on squatted land. People build shacks from whatever materials are easy to acquire, for example wood or mud. There are no facilities such as electricity, gas, sewage or running water. The squatters choose areas such as railway sidings, preservation areas or disputed building projects. [1] Swiss journalist Georg Gerster has noted (with specific reference to the invasões of Brasilia) that "squatter settlements [as opposed to slums], despite their unattractive building materials, may also be places of hope, scenes of a counter-culture, with an encouraging potential for change and a strong upward impetus". [2] Stewart Brand has observed that shanty towns are green, with people recycling as much as possible and tending to travel by foot, bicycle, rickshaw or shared taxi, though this is mainly due to the generally poor economic situation found. [3]

Development

Shanty towns may be large or small settlements. Above a shanty town in Hong Kong. Shanty housing in Hong Kong.jpeg
Shanty towns may be large or small settlements. Above a shanty town in Hong Kong.

While most shanty towns begin as precarious establishments haphazardly thrown together without basic social and civil services, over time, some have undergone a certain amount of development. Often the residents themselves are responsible for the major improvements. [4] Community organizations sometimes working alongside NGOs, private companies, and the government, set up connections to the municipal water supply, pave roads, and build local schools. [4] Some of these shanties have become middle class suburbs. One such example is the Los Olivos neighbourhood of Lima, Peru, which now contains gated communities, casinos, and plastic surgery clinics. [4]

Some Brazilian favelas have also seen improvements in recent years and can even attract tourists. [5] Development occurs over a long period of time and newer towns still lack basic services. Nevertheless, there has been a general trend whereby shanties undergo gradual improvements, rather than relocation to even more distant parts of a metropolis. [6]

In Africa, many shanty towns are starting to implement the use of composting toilets [7] and solar panels. [8] In India, people living in slums have access to cell phones and the internet. [9]

Instances

Shanty towns are present in a number of developing countries. In Francophone countries, shanty towns are referred to as bidonvilles (French for "can town"); such countries include Haiti, where Cité Soleil houses between 200,000 and 300,000 people on the edge of Port-au-Prince. [10]

Africa

Khayelitsha Township in Cape Town, South Africa 2008-02-12 Khayelitsha Township 016.jpg
Khayelitsha Township in Cape Town, South Africa

In 2016, 62% of Africa's population was living in shanty towns. [11] Khayelitsha in Cape Town, South Africa is reputed to be the largest shanty town in Africa and is a city in itself. [12] [ dubious ] The 2011 census revealed its population to be 99% black and a 2012 inquiry found that 12,000 households had no toilet. [11] The Joe Slovo shanty town, also in Cape Town, houses an estimated 20,000 people. [13] Shack dwellers in South Africa organise themselves in groups such as Abahlali baseMjondolo and Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign. [14] [ better source needed ]

In Nairobi (Kenya), Kibera has between 200,000 and 1 million residents. There is no running water and inhabitants use a flying toilet in which faeces are collected in a plastic bag then thrown away. [12] Mathare is a collection of slums which contain around 500,000 people. [15] In Zambia, the informal housing areas are known as kombonis and approximately 80% of the people in the capital Lusaka are living in them. [16]

Asia

Dharavi shanty town in Mumbai Dharavi India.jpg
Dharavi shanty town in Mumbai

The largest shanty town in Asia is Orangi in Karachi, Pakistan, which had an estimated 1.5 million inhabitants in 2011. [12] The Orangi Pilot Project aims to lift local people out of poverty. It was begun by Akhtar Hameed Khan and run by Parveen Rehman until her murder in 2013. [17] Residents laid sewage pipes themselves and almost all of Orangi's 8,000 streets are now connected. [18] In India, an estimated one million people live in Dharavi, a shanty town built on a former mangrove swamp in Mumbai. [12] It is one of the most densely populated places on the globe. [19] In 2011, there were at least four improvised settlements in Mumbai containing even more people. [20] There are in total 3.4 million people living in the 5,000 informal settlements of Bangladesh's capital city Dhaka. [21]

Thailand has 5,500 informal settlements, one of the largest being a shanty town in the Khlong Toei District of Bangkok. [22] In China, 171 urban villages were demolished before the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. [23] As of 2005, there were 346 shanty towns in Beijing, housing 1.5 million people. [24] Author Robert Neuwirth wrote that around six million people, half the population of Istanbul lived in gecekondu areas. [25]

In Hong Kong, the Kowloon Walled City housed up to 50,000 people, [26] with rooftop slums currently providing some additional housing.

Latin America

The world's largest shanty town is Ciudad Neza or Neza-Chalco-Itza, which is part of the city of Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, next to Mexico City. Estimates of its population range from 1.2 million to 4 million. [11] [12]

Brazil has many favelas. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, it was calculated in 2000 that over 20% of its 6.5 million inhabitants were living in more than 600 favelas. For example, Rocinha is home to an estimated 80,000 inhabitants. It has developed into a densely populated neighbourhood with some buildings reaching six storeys high. There are theatres, schools, nurseries and local newspapers. [1]

In Argentina, shanty towns are known as villas miseria. As of 2011, there were 500,000 people living in 864 informal settlements in the metropolitan Buenos Aires area. In Peru they are known as pueblos jóvenes ("young towns"), as campamentos in Chile and as asentamientos in Guatemala.

Developed countries

An impoverished American family living in a shanty during the Great Depression. Photographed by Dorothea Lange in 1936 Poor mother and children, Oklahoma, 1936 by Dorothea Lange.jpg
An impoverished American family living in a shanty during the Great Depression. Photographed by Dorothea Lange in 1936
Shanty town along the Martin Pena Canal in Puerto Rico (1970s). MODERN BUILDINGS TOWER OVER THE SHANTIES CROWDED ALONG THE MARTIN PENA CANAL - NARA - 546369.jpg
Shanty town along the Martin Pena Canal in Puerto Rico (1970s).

During the 1930s Great Depression, shanty towns nicknamed Hoovervilles sprang up across the United States. [27] Following the Great Depression, squatters lived in shacks on landfill sites beside the Martin Pena canal in Puerto Rico and were still there in 2010. [28] More recently, cities such as Newark and Oakland have witnessed the creation of tent cities. The Umoja Village shanty town was squatted in 2006 in Miami, Florida. [29] There are also colonias near the border with Mexico. [30]

Although shanty towns are now generally less common in developed countries in Europe, they still exist. The growing influx of migrants has fuelled shantytowns in cities commonly used as a point of entry into the European Union, including Athens and Patras in Greece. [31] The Calais Jungle in France had grown to over 8,000 people by the time of its eviction in October 2016. [32] Bidonvilles exist in the peripheries of some French cities. The state authorities recorded 16,399 people living in 391 slums across the country in 2012. Of these, 41% lived on the outskirts of Paris. [33]

In Madrid, Spain, a shanty town named Cañada Real is considered the largest informal settlement in Europe. It has an estimated 8,628 inhabitants, who are mainly Spanish, Romani and north African, but only one mobile health unit. [34] [35] After 40 years, property developers began to take an interest in the site in 2012. [36]

There have been cardboard cities in London and Belgrade. In some cases, shanty towns can persist in gentrified areas that local governments have yet to redevelop, or in regions of political dispute. A major historical example was the Kowloon Walled City in Hong Kong. [37]

A shanty town in Manila, Philippines. Manila shanty.jpg
A shanty town in Manila, Philippines.

Many films have been shot in shanty towns. Slumdog Millionaire centres on characters who spend most of their lives in Indian shanty towns. [38] The Brazilian film City of God was set in Cidade de Deus and filmed in another favela, called Cidade Alta. [39] White Elephant , 2012 Argentinian movie, is set in a villa miseria in Buenos Aires. [40] The South African film District 9 is largely set in a township called Chiawelo, from which people had been forcibly resettled. [41]

The 2016 Chinese TV series Housing tells the story of shantytown clearance in Beiliang, Baotou, Inner Mongolia. [42]

Video games such as Max Payne 3 have levels located in fictional shanty towns. [43]

Reggae singer Desmond Dekker sang a song called "007 (Shanty Town)".[ citation needed ]

See also

Related Research Articles

Squatting Occupation of derelict land or an empty building without the permission of the owner

Squatting is the action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use. The United Nations estimated in 2003 that there were one billion slum residents and squatters globally. Squatting occurs worldwide and tends to occur when people who are poor and homeless find empty buildings or land to occupy for housing. It has a long history, broken down by country below.

Dharavi Slum in Maharashtra, India

Dharavi is a locality in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India, considered to be one of Asia's largest slums. Dharavi has an area of just over 2.1 square kilometres and a population of about 1,000,000. With a population density of over 277,136/km2 (717,780/sq mi), Dharavi is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.

Villa miseria

A villa miseria, or just villa, is a type of shanty town or slum found in Argentina, mostly around the largest urban settlements.

Orangi Municipality in Sindh, Pakistan

Orangi is a municipality approximately 22 square miles in area that forms much of the northwestern part of Karachi, Pakistan. When grouped with the neighboring municipality of Baldia Town, the Orangi-Baldia population is estimated to be over two million. The municipality was described in a 1999 National Geographic article on Mumbai's Dharavi slum as the "largest shanty town in Asia." However, only some parts of Orangi can be characterized as a slum. While Orangi is the largest of Karachi's mostly unplanned settlement, much of Orangi does receive municipal services.

Rooftop slum Type of illegal housing

Rooftop slum or penthouse slum generally refers to illegal housing on the rooftops of apartment buildings. In Hong Kong, some people are unable to afford traditional apartments and are forced to wait years for affordable public housing. They therefore live in squatted shacks on top of buildings. According to the Hong Kong population census, there were 47,091 rooftop dwellers in 2011 and this number is likely to have dropped as working class areas are redeveloped.

Informal housing Housing outside of official government control, regulation, or protection

Informal housing or informal settlement can include any form of housing, shelter, or settlement which is illegal, falls outside of government control or regulation, or is not afforded protection by the state. As such, the informal housing industry is part of the informal sector.

<i>Shadow Cities</i> (book) 2004 book by Robert Neuwirth

Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A New Urban World is a 2004 book by Robert Neuwirth. He wrote it after visiting informal settlements such as Dharavi, Kibera and Rocinha.

Squatting in Nigeria Occupation of unused land or derelict buildings in Nigeria

Squatting in Nigeria refers to a person who is not the owner, taking possession of land or an empty house. Squatters migrate from the countryside to informal settlements in cities such as Abuja, Port Harcourt and in particular Lagos. Lagos had a population of over 14 million people in 2019 and many slums, including Makoko.

Squatting in Zimbabwe

Squatting in Zimbabwe is the settlement of land or buildings without the permission of the owner. Squatting began under colonialism. After Zimbabwe was created in 1980, peasant farmers and squatters disputed the distribution of land. Informal settlements have developed on the periphery of cities such as Chitungwiza and the capital Harare. In 2005, Operation Murambatsvina evicted an estimated 700,000 people.

Squatting in South Korea Occupation of land or buildings without the permission of the relevant authorities

Squatting in South Korea is the occupation of land or buildings without the permission of the relevant authorities. From the 1950s onwards, shanty towns called P'anjach'on formed around cities, in particular the capital Seoul. As well as providing housing, squatting is used as a tactic by groups opposing gentrification and striking workers.

Squatting in Peru Occupation of unused land or derelict buildings in Peru

Squatting in Peru is the occupation of unused or derelict buildings or land without the permission of the owner. From the 1940s onwards, land invasions to create shanty towns called barriadas and later pueblos jóvenes have occurred. At first they were repressed, then the government tolerated them and by 1998 it was estimated 2.5 million inhabitants lived in pueblos jóvenes in the capital Lima. In Lima there are also slum tenements in the centre known as solares or tugurios. A Wall of Shame has been built to separate rich and poor areas of the city. During the COVID-19 pandemic in Peru, an increase in the occupation of UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Caral and the Nazca Lines was reported.

Squatting in Namibia occupation of unused land or derelict buildings without the permission of the owner

Squatting in Namibia is the occupation of unused land or derelict buildings without the permission of the owner. Indigenous Namibians squatted during World War I, then were forcibly resettled under apartheid when South Africa ruled what was then known as South West Africa. After Namibian independence in 1990, squatting increased as people migrated to cities such as Windhoek, Otjiwarongo and Oshakati. By 2020, 401,748 people were living in 113 informal settlements across the country.

Squatting in Ghana

Squatting in Ghana is the occupation of unused land or derelict buildings without the permission of the owner. Informal settlements are found in cities such as Kumasi and the capital Accra. Ashaiman, now a town of 100,000 people, was swelled by squatters. In central Accra, next to Agbogbloshie, the Old Fadama settlement houses an estimated 80,000 people and is subject to a controversial discussion about eviction. The residents have been supported by Amnesty International, the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions and Shack Dwellers International.

Squatting in Chile Occupation of unused land or derelict buildings without the permission of the owner

Squatting in Chile is the occupation of unused land or derelict buildings without the permission of the owner. From the 1960s onwards, informal settlements known as callampas were permitted although there were also evictions such as the massacre of Puerto Montt in 1969. In the 1970s, the government of Salvador Allende encouraged occupations, then following the coup d'état, the military junta repressed squatting. Callampas then became known as campamentos.

Squatting in Brazil

Squatting in Brazil is the occupation of unused or derelict buildings or land without the permission of the owner. After attempting to eradicate slums in the 1960s and 1970s, local governments transitioned to a policy of toleration. Cities such as Recife, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo have large informal settlements known as favelas. A more recent phenomenon is the occupation of buildings in city centres by organised groups. In rural areas across the country, the Landless Workers' Movement (MST) arranges large land occupations.

Squatting in Pakistan

Squatting in Pakistan is the occupation of unused land or derelict buildings without the permission of the owner. Squatted informal settlements formed following the creation of Pakistan in 1947. They were known first as "bastis" then later "katchi abadis" and the inhabitants were forcibly resettled under military rule. By 2007, there were 7.5 million squatters in Karachi alone. The Sindh Katchi Abadi Authority (SKAA) announced in 2019 that a total of 1,414 katchi abadis had been located and 1,006 of those had been contacted with regards to beginning a regularization process.

Squatting in Venezuela Occupation of unused land or derelict buildings without permission of owner

Squatting in Venezuela is the occupation of derelict buildings or unused land without the permission of the owner. Informal settlements, known first as "ranchos" and then "barrios", are common. In the capital Caracas notable squats have included the 23 de Enero housing estate, Centro Financiero Confinanzas and El Helicoide, a former shopping centre which is now a notorious prison.

Squatting in the Philippines

Squatting in the Philippines occurred after World War II when people built makeshift houses called "barong-barong". Urban areas such as Metro Manila and Metro Davao have large informal settlements. The Philippine Statistics Authority has defined a squatter, or alternatively "informal dwellers", as "One who settles on the land of another without title or right or without the owner's consent whether in urban or rural areas". President Ferdinand Marcos criminalized squatting in 1975 with a decree that was annulled in 1997. Squatting is now criminalized by the Urban Development and Housing Act of 1992, also known as the Lina Law. There have been various attempts to regularize squatter settlements, such as the Zonal Improvement Program and the Community Mortgage Program.

Squatting in Angola Occupation of unused land or derelict buildings in Angola without permission of owner

Squatting in Angola occurs when displaced peoples occupy informal settlements in coastal cities such as the capital Luanda. The Government of Angola has been criticized by human rights groups for forcibly evicting squatters and not resettling them.

Squatting in Argentina

Squatting in Argentina is the occupation of derelict buildings or unused land without the permission of the owner. Shanty towns emerged on the periphery of Buenos Aires from the 1930s onwards and are known as villa miseria. After the 1998–2002 Argentine great depression, 311 worker cooperatives set up across the country as people squatted and re-opened businesses.

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Further reading