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UN Report On Slum Dwellers

UN Report On Slum Dwellers

As the world's urban population is set to exceed rural dwellers for the first time next year a landmark study issued today by the United Nations shows that poor people living in urban areas are as badly off if not worse than their rural cousins, contradicting general assumptions that people living in towns and cities are healthier and more prosperous.

'This report provides concrete evidence that there are two cities within one city – one part of the urban population that has all the benefits of urban living, and the other part, the slums and squatter settlements, where the poor often live under worse conditions than their rural relatives,” said Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT that produced the State of the World’s Cities Report 2006/7.

'It is time that donor agencies and national governments recognized the urban penalty and specifically targeted additional resources to improve the living conditions of slum dwellers,” she added, referring to a global population of one billion.

The report shows remarkable similarities between slums and rural areas in health, education, employment and mortality, the Agency said in a news release, adding that it also shows how in countries such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Haiti and India, child malnutrition in slums is comparable to that of rural areas.

For example, in Ethiopia, child malnutrition in slums and rural areas is 47 per cent and 49 per cent respectively, compared with 27 per cent in non-slum urban areas, while in Brazil and Côte d'Ivoire, child malnutrition is three to four times higher in slums than in non slum-areas.

The report also debunks some commonly-held beliefs about people living in slums, including the fact that contrary to popular perception, young adults living in slums are more likely to have a child, be married or head a household than their counterparts living in non-slum areas.

The findings come at a time when the world is entering an 'historic urban transition,” the Agency says, noting that in 2007 for the first time in history the world's urban population will exceed the rural population. Most of the world's urban growth 95 per cent in the next two decades will be absorbed by cities of the developing world, which are least equipped to deal with rapid urbanization.

Globally, the slum population is set to grow at the rate of 27 million per year in the period 2000-2020 however, UN-HABITAT, which is the agency that aims to achieve sustainable development of human settlements, says in the report that slum formation is 'neither inevitable nor acceptable.

Ends

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