Why Shanty Towns Exist

Topics: Poverty, Shanty town, Squatting Pages: 6 (1383 words) Published: November 11, 2014


Why do Shanty Towns Exist?
Comparison between the Los Altos de Cazuca and United States Shanty Towns

Janice Rassett
Intro to Geography
September 20, 2014

Why Shanty Towns Exist?
Governments are often tight-lipped when it comes to the status of its people and the actual development of their country. They would often hide this fact by boasting about the country’s growth and development while shielding away any evidence that would prove their deceit. However, the real state of a country cannot be hidden for long especially with the presence of shanty towns even if they are well-developed. The presence of these shanty towns are a concern for governments, not only because of its state but it emphasizes the lapses of government policies when it comes to their people. Whether they are located on developed or developing countries, shanty towns are a symbol of poverty as people in these towns are living in decrepit homes in a community filled with violence and uncertainty and lacking basic human necessities.

Shanty towns – also known as slums or squatter areas – are known as illegal housing communities or developments reflecting a country’s incapacity to provide ample housing or the onset of poverty. They usually are made up of light and scavenged materials such as mud, thatch, timber or corrugated iron that would then be erected in any free space without permission from the government or its owners. Shanty towns often have many citizens and lack basic services and necessities such as drainage, sanitation and water supply. Shanty towns are located in any location: alongside factories, railways and highways as they are close to casual employment opportunities. However, these areas are considered to be dangerous and close to high-risk sites (Clark 2003: 116-120). The existence of shanty towns can be attributed to several different factors. First and foremost, they exist because of the disparity between industrial or urban labor growth as compared to agricultural growth and development. It is also likely to exist if the government is unable to protect property rights in urban areas and the establishment of government-owned installations and services. The lack of government responses on crucial issues such as employment and poverty also triggers the onset of shanty towns (Yusuf, Evenett & Wu 2001: 141).

Most shanty towns are located in developing countries where there is poor government policy therefore poverty and slow development occur. One of these shanty towns is located in Bogota, Colombia known as Los Altos de Cazuca. Los Altos de Cazuca or Altos de Cazuca is situated in southern Bogota in the municipality of Soacha, formerly known as an urban wasteland. However, ten years later, the land became home to 40,000 people displaced from various parts of the region. Some of them see the area as a haven from the city. Much like other shanties in the globe, Altos de Cazuca, does not have a clean and organized sanitation and water system while most would have to resort to the informal market or the black market to make ends meet. Others will even join the paramilitary group or the militias just to have food to eat. Most of the houses in the area of Los Altos are made from cardboard and wooden poles covered in plastic while the roof was made from tin sheets (Hristov 2009: 21). The United Nations High Commission for Refugees stated in 2005 that the region had high numbers of unemployment and malnutrition despite the provisions on the Columbian law for the displaced. Residents often report a strong case of respiratory illnesses, skin infections and diarrhea due to the lack of sanitation and clean water, as well as the cramp living conditions of each resident (Valdivieso and Verney 2005).

There are also shanty towns in developing countries like the United States, but they are known in several different names. The first American shanty town was known as Hooverville after the name of...

References: Clark, David. 2003. Urban World/Global City. East Sussex: Psychology Press.
Cook, Jerri. 2011. "SQUATTER NATION." Countryside & Small Stock Journal 95 (6): 42-44.
Foner, Eric. 2011. Give me Liberty: An American History. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.
Geoghegan, Tom. 2013. "Why do so many Americans live in mobile homes?" BBC News. September 23. Accessed September 17, 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24135022.
Hristov, Jasmin. 2009. Blood and Capital: The Paramilitarization of Colombia. Toronto: Between the Lines.
McKinley, Jesse. 2009. "Cities Deal With a Surge in Shantytowns." New York Times. March 25. Accessed September 17, 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/us/26tents.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0.
Moody, Oliver. 2013. "The shanty town at the heart of Millionaires ' Valley." The Times, March 16: 59. Accessed September 17, 2014. http://ezproxy.metrostate.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.metrostate.edu/docview/1317174756?accountid=12415.
Valdivieso, Gustavo, and Marie-Helene Verney. 2005. "A 'House of Rights ' for Colombia 's displaced people." United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. September 30. Accessed September 18, 2014. http://www.unhcr.org/433d40964.html.
Yusuf, Shahid, Simon Evenett, and Weiping Wu. 2001. Facets of Globalization: International and Local Dimensions of Development. Washington, D.C.: World Bank Publications.
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