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Slum

From Academic Kids

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A boy from an East Cipinang trash dump slum in Jakarta, Indonesia shows his find.

A slum is an overcrowded and squalid district of a city or town usually inhabited by the very poor. Slums can be found in most large cities around the world.

Slums are usually characterized by high rates of poverty and unemployment and are breeding centers for many social problems such as crime, recreational drugs, alcoholism, and despair. In many poor countries they are also breeding centers for disease due to unsanitary conditions. Though the terms are often now used interchangeably, slums and ghettoes differ in that ghettoes originally referred to a neighborhood based on shared ethnicity.

In many slums, especially in poor countries, people live in very narrow alleys that do not allow vehicles (like ambulances and fire trucks) to pass. The lack of services such as routine garbage collection allows garbage to accumulate in huge quantities. The lack of infrastructure is caused by the informal nature of settlement and poor planning on the parts of government officials. Additionally, informal settlements often face the brunt of natural and man-made disasters, such as landslides, earthquakes and tropical storms. Many slum dwellers make up the informal economy. This can include street vending, drug dealing, domestic work, and prostitution. In some slums people collect the city cans for a living, later recycling them for the money.

Recent years have seen a dramatic growth in the number of slums as urban populations have increased. In the Third World, this population increase is often tied to neoliberal development policies that cause migration from rural areas, as well as civil war and draught.

Many governments around the world have attempted to solve the problems of slums by clearing away old decrepit housing and replacing it with modern (usually high rise) housing with much better sanitation. The displacement of slums is aided by the fact that many are squatter settlements and are not recognized by the state. This process of slum clearance is sometimes also called gentrification. Slum clearances, however, tend to ignore the social problems that cause slums. Where communities have been moved out of slum areas to better housing, social cohesion may be lost. If the community is not moved, residents of the new housing face the same problems of poverty and unemployment.

See also: favela, shanty town

External links

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