Sunday, April 29, 2007

Miami shantytown up in flames, but will its message be lost

The Miami Herald and Florida Today have the sad details. Forty four people lost their homes.

Will the Liberty City squatters rebuild....even stronger?

cooperative effort to tame trash in Rocinha

Viva Favela reports (in Portuguese) on a new mutirao -- mutual, communal effort -- to clean up garbage in Rocinha.

When I lived in the community, a woman's association had gotten a tractor and a wagon, and hired men to come around several mornings a week to pick up the trash. Still, it was only relocated to an area along the Largo dos Boiadeiros at the bottom of the favela, a location the city coul reach with a garbage truck. There was always way too much trash for the city to cart away.

fortunes & misfortunes of squatters in Buenos Aires

The Washington Post offers a take on the growth 'Neighborhoods of Misery' of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

A good factoid from reporter Monte Reel: "even in places where rural migration to urban areas has begun to level off -- such as Argentina -- slums within cities continue to grow at a fast pace, through good economic times and bad." Despite robust economic growth, the money is not trickling down to the poor. "Population growth in the capital," he reports, "is fastest in its shantytowns, which continue to pop up beside railroad tracks, appear under bridges and even expand across the grounds of an ecological reserve."

He makes a key point: that the local name for squatter communities--'villas miserias,' or "neighborhoods of misery"--is actually a misnomer, for these are "slums that -- with enough money and infrastructure improvements -- conceivably could be transformed into permanent neighborhoods with full services"

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Death and life in Brazil

Two Washington Post articles (the second a series of short vignettes) on death
and life in Rio's favelas.

(thanks to Washington for the second group of stories)

[and my apologies for being so sporadic on this blog of late: I just got back from Lagos, Nigeria, where I have been living for the past three months as I work on a new book.]

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Squatters in an island paradise

Anyone who thinks urban squatters are confined to megacities, think again:

Squatters now make up 12 percent of the population of Fiji, according to this dispatch from Fijilive, and rural residents are continuing to trek to Suva, the capital city that is home to 3/4 of the country's population.

Syrian squatters

Aysh Warrwar is a hillside squatter neighborhood on the outskirts of Damascus. Residents have invested in their own services, but are still not receiving infrastructure or assistance from nearby local governments. And, with no hospital close by, they have to pay more for health care than people who go to government hospitals.

A recent government experiment has brought the first public investments in the neighborhood in 30 years -- a primary school and a garbage truck.