Urban poverty is growing. The cities in the developing world are overloading as millions of people each week arrive to find a way to survive. Most will be forced to set up home in makeshift slums with no safe water, sanitation, electricity or security. This is a reality right now for around one billion people. According to a U.N. report, by 2030 this figure is set to double.
These statistics are not anything new. We know about the numbers and chronic poverty in the slums. We know about the human waste, the mounting rubbish, the risks of cholera, the families crammed into tiny spaces, and the precarious shacks on landfills or by railway tracks. We just do not seem to know what to do about it.
Take the Korail slum in Dhaka, Bangladesh. People have been settling here for over 30 years, and it is now the biggest slum in Dhaka. It sits on the Gulshan Lake, overlooked by one of the most affluent neighbourhoods in the capital. Women can be seen washing their dishes at the lake’s edge, just meters away from where hanging latrines discharge directly into the water.