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Squatter settlements  

Characteristics of squatter settlements and how they are managed.

Background to the slum
Conditions in the slum
Positives of Dharavi
Recycling in Dharavi
Managing and Improving Dharavi

  Think about it

Try the scatter game at the base of this page

Try this exercise after reading the text opposite

OR try this exercise on redeveloping the slums

Watch the Kevin McCloud Slumming it at YouTube 
Slumming it part 1

Are these the cities of the future?

How sustainable is this settlement?
Notes based upon Kevin McCloud's "Slumming it."
Dharavi slum is located in Mumbai (formally Bombay) in India.  Bombay is a thriving megacity that has had an economic boom in recent years.  It is home to Bollywood and the film "Slumdog Millionaire" was based there.  Many of the residents of Mumbai live in illegal squatter settlements (known as bustees in India).
India and Mumbai's biggest slum is known as Dharavi.  There are a million people crammed into one square mile in Dharavi.  At the edge of Dharavi the newest arrivals come to make their homes on waste land next to water pipes in slum areas.  They set up home illegally amongst waste on land that is not suitable for habitation.  In the wet monsoon season these people have huge problems living on  this low lying marginal land.  Many of the people here come from many parts of India as a result of the push and pull factors of migration.
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Conditions in the slum
In the slum people have to live with many problems.  People have to go to the toilet in the street and there are open sewers.
Children play amongst sewage waste and doctors deal with 4,000 cases a day of diphtheria and typhoid.  Next to the open sewers are water pipes, which can crack and take in sewage.   There are also toxic wastes in the slum including hugely dangerous heavy metals.

View Dharavi location in a larger map
People live in very small dwellings (e.g. 12X12ft), often with many members of their extended families. 

Water is a big problem for Mumbai's population, standpipes come on at 5:30am for 2 hours as water is rationed.  These standpipes are shared between many people.  Rubbish is everywhere and most areas lack sanitation and excrement and rats are found on the street.  500 people share one public latrine.
Aerial view of Dharavi slum

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Shanty in Dharavi
New shanty dwellings on the street

Other shanties are located on waste tips
The Positives of Dharavi Slum
There are positives, informal shopping areas exist where it is possible to buy anything you might need.  There are also mosques catering for people's religious needs.

There is a pottery area of Dharavi slum which has a community centre.  It has a village feel despite its high population density and has a central social square. 
Family life dominates, and there can be as many as 5 people per room.  The houses often have no windows, asbestos roofs (which is dangerous if broken) and no planning to fit fire regulations.  Rooms within houses have multiple functions, including living, working and sleeping.

Communal living generates a sense of community.  The buildings in this part of the slum are all of different heights and colours, adding interest and diversity. 

85% of people have a job in the slum and work LOCALLY, and some have even managed to become millionaires. 
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Recycling and waste in Dharavi

Dharavi has a recycling zone.  It is claimed that Dharavi’s recycling zone could be the way forward to a sustainable future.  Everything is recycled from cosmetics and plastics to computer keyboards.  23% of plastic waste gets recycled in the UK, in Mumbai it is 80%.  However, it is humans who work to sift the rubbish in the tips where children and women sift through the rubbish for valuable waste.  They have to work under the hot sun in appalling conditions.  They earn around a £1 a day for their work. 

At the edge of the tip the rag dealers sort their haul before selling it on to dealers. People work in dangerous conditions with toxic substances without protective clothing, this could affect peoples life expectancy.  Even dangerous hospital waste is recycled. 

Dharavi tip - where people make money

People working on the tip

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Proposed redevelopment flats
The proposed new development for Dharavi
New flats in Mumbai
The new flats above are only 10 years old!

Reveloped flats

Dharavi slum

Managing and improving Squatter settlements

Large scale redevlopment

A $2billion dollar development project threatens the recycling district and part of Dharavi.  The land upon which Dharavi is built is next to Mumbai’s financial district.  This makes it a prime target for redevelopment.  The people who are relocated will be put into smaller housing in apartment blocks.  An ancient fishing village is also threatened.  These areas have strong safe neighbourhoods that have low crime and communal areas.   The locals would prefer small improvements to the existing slum such as improvements in drainage.  The value of land is so high that redevelopment is now a real threat.  The alternative accommodation is very small. 

The slum dwellers face 14 story apartments as accommodation as proposed by the cities Slum  Rehabilitation Authority.  This will separate communities and make people work away from where they live.  Only people who have lived in the slum since 2000 will be relocated.  

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Local Based Improvements

There is an alternative to large scale redevelopment and that is to allow LOCAL people design the improvements to the slum.

The Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres, better known as SPARC, this is an NGO that supports the efforts of local people to get better housing for their many members. Ideas generated from local people supported by this charity include adding an extra floor to buildings so that all family members can be accommodated in the same building. These flats also had 14-foot high ceilings and a single tall window so are well ventilated, bright, and less dependent on electric fans for cooling.

Architecture students have also been hard at work.  One student has created a multi-storey building with wide outer corridors connected by ramps “space ways in the sky,” to replicate the street. These space ways allow various activities to be linked, such as garment workshops, while maintaining a secluded living space on another. Communal open space on various levels allows women to preserve an afternoon tradition, getting together to do embroidering.

One student also tried to help the potters of Dharavi.  He designed into existing houses the living space at one end and a place to make the pots at the other.  Each has an additional open terrace on which to make pots, which are fired in a community kiln.

As the National Slum Dwellers Federation has repeatedly proven, housing the poor works best, costs less and is better for the environment, when the poor themselves have a say in what is being built.


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