Friday, July 18, 2008

Slum Issues

The Economist recently released an interesting article on India's pollution.

It goes into a good amount of detail describing pollution in India and it's implications for sanitation and health, particularly around the Ganges. They provide a quote from Sunita Narain, a prominent environmentalist, which mocks the tourist ministry’s slogan: “Incredible India, drowning in its excreta”.

In the developing nations, environmental problems are as significant if not more so as in the developed world. In the book Planet of Slums by Mike David, he discusses the primary issues facing the growing urban slums today. In the chapter, "Slum Ecology" he discusses the environmental issues facing third world slums. One of these that he mentions is that slums are literally "living in shit" without the proper infrastructure and resources available to handle their own excrement. While this effects everyone living in the slums, it is particularly a feminist issue in many ways. Other than obvious health issues that arise with no private toilets to use, women are also often forced to relieve themselves only at night thus creating issues of safety, exposing them to harassment and even sexual assault.

In determine a way to deal with these issues, one has to consider which is the best option for these areas. Obviously, an immediate option is ideal, but as discussed in the Economist article, many infrastructure projects do not end up working to their full capacity and are often dwarfed by better technologies that arise. This is one of many issues that growing urban centers must confront.

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