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Re: [carfree_cities] The Slums in the World's Teeming Cities Need an Urgent Solution

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  • Patrick Collins
    ... I witnessed this first-hand, when living in Johannesburg, South Africa. Throughout the city there are large unused tracks of land, mostly belonging to
    Message 1 of 3 , Mar 29, 2006
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      > The Slums in the World's Teeming Cities Need an Urgent Solution
      > Rapid urbanization has led to an even more rapid growth in global poverty

      I witnessed this first-hand, when living in Johannesburg, South
      Africa. Throughout the city there are large unused tracks of land,
      mostly belonging to mining concerns, that have now been completely
      overrun by so-called "squatter camps". The residents come to the big
      city from the farms, but also from across the continent. Many of the
      people that I met and spoke to came from as far afield as Zambia,
      Congo, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.

      Johannesburg (or "Joburg" as it's commonly called) is a very
      auto-centric city, but as the poor can't afford cars, they build their
      shacks very close together, leaving nothing wider than a foot path
      between structures. It was always a fascinating experience for me to
      walk from my prim & proper suburb, cross the Main Reef Road, and enter
      a warren of tin shacks, smoky wood fires, and throngs of people. It's
      like stepping directly from the first world in the third world.

      Sanitation and fresh running water, not to mention electricity, would
      be a nice addition.

      As for building houses for the poor... well this is a bit more
      difficult. Believe it or not, many of these residents of these
      squatter camps actually pay a small sum for their "land" to
      unscrupulous people who supposedly "run" or "own" the camp. This is
      something that angered me the most - it's taking advantage of the
      poor. But private individuals aren't the only ones taking advantage
      of the poor. I spoke at length to poor people who told me how they
      had paid R 5,000 for a house which was promised to them by the
      government, but which never appeared.

      There have been some low-cost housing projects, but these are poorly
      implemented. Each identical tiny house is built on a tiny parcel of
      land, not touching the buildings next to it, with a great wide road to
      accommodate cars that they don't own. Also the construction is
      sub-standard, with many of these "houses" literally falling apart, or
      being condemned before they have even been lived in.

      Once I spoke to a black man on the street and I told him how much I
      had paid to the government in taxes in the last 12 months, and I asked
      him how many houses could have been built with that alone.
      "Too many" was the response.
      "And how many have they built?" I replied.
      "Not enough."

      Not enough, indeed.

      I think that Mr Crawford's solution is by far the best - 3 / 4 story
      buildings, close together, with some open space reserved for parks.

      - Patrick
    • J.H. Crawford
      Hi All, Patrick Collins replied to postings on Carfree_Cities regarding the urgent need for housing for the poor in shanty-towns around ... Can we not get
      Message 2 of 3 , Mar 29, 2006
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        Hi All,

        Patrick Collins replied to postings on Carfree_Cities regarding
        the urgent need for housing for the poor in shanty-towns around
        the world:

        >I witnessed this first-hand, when living in Johannesburg, South
        >Africa. Throughout the city there are large unused tracks of land,
        >mostly belonging to mining concerns, that have now been completely
        >overrun by so-called "squatter camps". The residents come to the big
        >city from the farms, but also from across the continent. Many of the
        >people that I met and spoke to came from as far afield as Zambia,
        >Congo, Ivory Coast and Nigeria.
        ...
        >There have been some low-cost housing projects, but these are poorly
        >implemented. Each identical tiny house is built on a tiny parcel of
        >land, not touching the buildings next to it, with a great wide road to
        >accommodate cars that they don't own. Also the construction is
        >sub-standard, with many of these "houses" literally falling apart, or
        >being condemned before they have even been lived in.
        ...
        >I think that Mr Crawford's solution is by far the best - 3 / 4 story
        >buildings, close together, with some open space reserved for parks.

        Can we not get together with UN Habitat and maybe Habitat for
        Humanity and try to come up with a real, workable solution to
        this problem? It means thinking outside the box. It means NOT
        including "a great wide road to accommodate cars that they don't own"
        and probably never will. All that is REALLY required is a cheap
        way to build very small two-story buildings (3 or 4 would certainly
        be better) that won't fall down in the first minor natural disaster.

        Anyone interested in this topic should try to borrow a copy of
        _How the Other Half Builds_, which came from the Centre for
        Mininimum Cost Housing at McGill U. in Montreal. The spaces
        they studied have the evolved character that I advocate. They
        provide functioning neighborhoods arranged by the people who
        live in them. Realistically, this is the best we're going to
        do for the 3 billion people who will be living in terrible
        conditions 20 years hence. It's a LOT better than what they
        will have if we don't take action along these lines. We will
        need a cheap, safe, and effective method to build 2-4 story
        buildings that can be designed on the site and built in accordance
        with some very simple guidelines that will ensure safety. These
        buildings have to be of a nature that unskilled people can do
        most or all of the work. And we need basic services. We need
        some sort of cooperative bank to make construction loans. Maybe
        we can put the auto industry to work stamping out sheet metal
        parts that can be assembled on the site.

        Can anyone put together a coalition to do some preliminary
        research and then to propose something to the UN and Habitat?
        Somebody needs to contact McGill. Arie, isn't this something
        that is fundable?

        I can't do any of this. I have way too much on my plate right
        now and am exhausted. But this needs to happen. Anyone?

        Regards,






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        J.H. Crawford Carfree Cities
        mailbox@... http://www.carfree.com
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