Slum Ecology, as Mike Davis would have mentioned it. The article based on “Slum Ecology”—which apparently boasts the same title—primarily discusses the reasonable effects of Megaslums and its residents towards the rest of the population, and the dire need to contain or control its proliferation. Throughout the article, every negative effect towards a certain favorable populace has been equated to the existence of these Megaslums, as Davis mentioned that “many of these as incubators of diseases” (Davis 150).
However, the revelation of such facts does not seem to stop its proliferation, as if it did not bother the more affluent states and the richer populace. Aid from First World countries has been ineffective so far, in controlling the proliferation of poverty within the Third World countries, which in turn could result to more devastation, deaths, misallocation of funding, health, environmental and social issues that could easily spread upwards—towards the Affluent nations.
Even though slums and slum lifestyle have been the focus of the text, everything would still revolve around poverty and its dire effects towards the population, as well as the nation. Poverty is the worst disease a nation could contract, as it gradually eats away society. They generate undesirable areas, slums, in the urban world. As more people would fall under the poverty line, the slums grow and further hinder the development of the nation.
A surprising fact could awaken the emotions of the reader easily, as it involved funds that could at least be diverted towards the control of the proliferation of poverty rather than be given as a form of tribute: “the coerced tribute that the Third World pays to the First World has been the literal difference between life and death for millions of poor people” (Davis 148). This tribute could have been easily diverted to the nation’s own restoration and the establishment of plans to avoid the further sinking of the entire nation towards poverty.
A imperialist attitude is still quite evident in the contemporary world, after reading through the line given. Indeed slums and their dwellers are open to numerous catastrophes ranging from epidemics to nightmarish weather conditions that seemingly sweep away a significant portion of their population; examples were given throughout the article. However, it has had very minimal effect towards those who could at least do something to alleviate the suffering that slums tend to generate.
Shock and sympathy is only what slum-dwellers get, somehow. Poverty continues to worsen throughout the Third World wherein the given aid has been deemed ineffective. It may have been actions of corrupt authorities that would lead their countries to an even deeper sinkhole. In that same sense, these officials also promote to natural and man-made catastrophes that slums usually experience: “Corrupt authorities also gave permits for shoddy housing”, which was in Algeria (Davis 125-126).
Corruption contributed to the millions of fatalities that slum-dwellers would experience, as the quote suggested that some give out building permits in uninhabitable areas. Corruption also has an effect on blocking aid given by the more affluent nations for the purpose of helping to somehow alleviate poverty in these nations. Hence, aid has been quite ineffective so far, in controlling the worsening of poverty.
Pollution has been one of the most noticeable effects brought about by the existence of slums, which in turn contributed to other effects that slums could possibly generate (like diseases). Poverty forced people to create slums on undesirable pieces of land which have been polluted, somehow, or have an existing industrial structure within the area. The result of their occupancy on these undesirable polluted areas has been more catastrophic towards the environment. It has been mentioned that cities need to ally with nature in order for the available resources to remain un-wasted.
However, it seems like an overly surrealistic idea for the Third World: “Unfortunately, Third World cities—with few exceptions—are systematically polluting, urbanizing, and destroying their crucial environmental support systems” (Davis 134). Indeed people could easily notice the growing air, water, and land pollution within Third World cities, as these slum-dwellers and the nations’ respective governments continue to neglect the importance of the environment in sustaining a healthier growth of their respective communities.
This, however, is a sad reality that the world is facing at the moment, especially areas which possess these Megaslums. Monetary aid to fuel the Third World nations’ drive against the further proliferation of the poverty does not seem to have an effect or whatsoever. The problem becomes harder to solve when these people would continue to kill the Nature instead of cooperating with it. Hence, Megaslums would continue to experience degradation and poverty would continue to grow into a bigger problem, bringing the whole nation down gradually alongside it.
It is a deathtrap which resulted by the neglect towards the environment; a possible vengeful act by Nature. The process of the continuous degradation of the environment, the further worsening of poverty, and the continuous growth of Megaslum areas may ultimately lead to the self-destruction of the Third World nation. Another growing problem related to these growing depressed areas are the development and redevelopment of certain diseases which happens to plague the other portion of the population, when both comes into contact with each other.
Well, it is bound to happen at any given time that health-related issues would be pointed towards these depressed areas. The unsanitary lifestyle of these people would turn these areas into breeding grounds for fatal diseases, upon which could spread towards the rest of the urban population; towards the richer classes. In the text, water-born diseases are said to usually congregate within the Megaslums as floods would rush in within the depressed district: “Poor sanitation and pollution of drinking water create diseases which are the leading cause of death in the world” (Davis 142).
Given this following quote, it reasserts the fact that these Megaslums are indeed breeding grounds for some of the world’s most fatal epidemics like cholera—due to the lack of latrines in the area, people would resort to defecate anywhere which include streams—, dengue and malaria (when it floods), and tuberculosis (which spreads quite rapidly within the tight alleyways of Megaslums). This fact ultimately shows how monetary aid—or any form of aid—has not been effective to alleviate the suffering of such areas, as well as control the further proliferation of poverty within Third World countries.
So, aid does not seem to be the most logical solution to alleviate the Third World’s poverty problem. If that is the case, what could be a solution that world organizations could at least do in order to somehow slow-down the proliferation of poverty? Now is the time to think about such a solution for this problem might further worsen in the future, especially during a global recession which nations are experiencing at the moment; an economic downturn indeed. Davis attends to the health problem that could spread quite rampantly across the world, if no attention is given by world organizations (Davis 150).
However, I would like to concentrate on the much bigger problem which pertains to poverty. Continuous aid would not really have any effect towards poverty. No matter how naive this idea may be, it is still a dream worth fulfilling. Aside from the aid that world organizations are giving to the poorer nations, I would suggest that these nations should fully cooperate alongside the world organizations in alleviating the problem with poverty. As the process’ first step, corruption should be dealt with in whatever way necessary in order for aid to have effect towards the problem of poverty.
Well, a dream worth fulfilling but seemed too surreal. The growing problem of poverty simply created the other problems concerning other facets of life; environmental issues, urban housing, health issues, corruption, and the like. Aid does not seem to have an effect towards the growing problem yet. However it would be best if governments would cooperate in trying to end this worsening problem of global scale.
Davis, Mike. Planet of Slums. New York: Verso, 2006.