Wednesday, March 29, 2006

One every second

That's the number of people moving to squatter communities in the world's cities, according to this piece by Jennifer Rowell, the urban adviser for Care International, in The Guardian. It's a shocking statistic (though I've done the math, and it's actually too low: the reality is that 2 people become squatters every second.) Rowell writes: "People in many slums are treated as though they have no rights to education, to clean water or to fight eviction. But those rights are theirs. And, as their numbers grow, so too does the need for urgent solutions." I'd second that, with this proviso: the people themselves are the root of the solution.

Rowell's piece was a response to a heartfelt piece on urbanization in China, which you can read here.

[thanks to Edesio for the link]


Maurice said...

If the Economist has its say, the rate of urbanisation will accelerate yet more.
The writers at the Economist appear to be naively oblivious to the problems of urbanisation on a scale never seen before.

rn said...

Thanks for the link, Maurice.

The Economist often doesn't see the contradictions implicit in its own words. I particularly like this:

"A decade ago almost all urban housing was owned by the state. In one of the most dramatically successful economic reforms of the past quarter century in China, most is now privately owned....Property owners want a clean environment around their homes."

So the overdevelopment that's tearing the heart and lungs out of cities, ripping apart the urban fabric, and jettisoning hundreds of thousands of city residents who can't afford the new highrises, is actually part of a demand for a clean environment. Gentrification is oh, so green. I wonder if the yuan is green too.