Monday, April 25, 2005

Reuters: Slum dwellers seen tripling

By 2050, the number of squatters in the world will triple, to 3 billion, the United Nations estimates. Sort of makes the UN's goal of intervening on behalf of 100 million squatters by 2020 a bit laughable, doesn't it.

Today, one in six people on the planet are squatters. They have the numbers and the power to improve their communities. But no one gives up power willingly. The squatters will have to seize power and demand the world pay attention. Charity alone, which is what the UN proposes, will not suffice.

Fernand Braudel, author of Civilization and Capitalism, the great history of the foundations of our economic age, put it this way:
"If people set about looking for them, seriously and honestly, economic solutions could be found which would extend the area of the market and would put at its disposal the economic advantages so far kept to itself by one deminant group in society. But the problem does not essentially lie there; it is social in nature. Just as a country at the center of a world-economy can hardly be expected to give up privileges at the internation level, how can one hope that the dominant groups who combine capital and state power, and who are assured of international support, will agree to play the game and hand over to someone else?"
By 2050, according to the UN's stats, about 40 percent of the people on the globe will be squatters. Will it take a revolution for true squatter empowerment? Politics, anyone?

1 comment:

rn said...

To be fair, UN staffers recognize that their goals are way too modest. Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN Habitat, the agency charged with improving living conditions here on earth, told her group's governing council that she proposed a new goal to "halve, between 1990 and 2020, the proportion of slum dwellers in the urban population." Still, her effort to increase the commitment to provide adequate services to squatters fell short. A Habitat news release notes that "governments argued overnight ... and until the last possible minute" of the council meeting, but were unable to endorse her proposal.