Guide Suburban Slums Secret Life of One Woman

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From slum to success story: This is Ciudad Neza

Mumbai is one of the most divided cities in the world when it comes to the settlement of rich and poor in such close proximity. Here in its Dharavi slum, everyday life is a far cry from the luxury of the palaces and temples which reach into the distance. Dhobi Ghat, pictured, is a famous open air laundromat in Mumbai where clothes from the hotels, embassies and beauty parlours nearby are sent to be washed.

Employees here work hard all through the day and night under extremely tough conditions amid this glittering backdrop.

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In China's Shanghai, dilapidated houses are scattered on the outskirts of regions where modern infrastructure is shooting up at a rapid pace. Peru's ten-foot high contraversial 'Wall of Shame' topped with razor wire which divides the rich and poor to stop the less well-off stealing from the wealthy. The line divides the urbanisation of Las Casuarinas, where some of the country's richest inhabitants live, and the poor suburb of Vista Hermosa next door.

Chongqing, located on the Yangtze river, has experienced rapid development in the recent years and is set to become the most economically important city in the west of China - but away from the skyscrapers, life remains a struggle. The Guryong shanty town pictured here is located a stone's throw from South Korea's wealthiest Gangnam district in Seoul.

The illegal slum settlement was established in and is still home to thousands of impoverished and elderly South Koreans.


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A brand new glass-walled building situated right next to the sprawling slums of Bangalore in India, where a child is washing pots. On the left of the Gulshan Lake in Dhaka, Bangladesh, tall apartment blocks tower over the shacks on stilts seen on the right.

Colourful illegal houses of the poor inhabitants of Luanda, Angola, front the high-rise buildings dominated by the wealthy. In the Philippines, the shiny skyscrapers of the Makati District of Metro Manila make a poignant contrast against the squalid shanty huts and open sewers of a poorer part of town.

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Share this article Share. Share or comment on this article: Slums stacked next to mansions and skyscrapers e-mail 2. Trim homes sit alongside hovels covered with tattered rags, and horse-drawn wagons filled with garbage clatter past shiny late-model cars. Nearly million people live in slums worldwide - or a quarter of the world's urban population, according to the U. Historically in Latin America and the Caribbean, slum upgrading - as opposed to demolition and reconstruction - has been an important strategy in providing housing for the poor.

Today, 24 percent of the region's urban residents live in slums. Far from ideal, Neza is shabby, poorly served by schools, transportation and health care and is considered extremely dangerous, even by Mexican standards. Yet it holds lessons in growth and resilience for other cities, according to experts.

Too salty for farming, the dry land was taken up by developers who laid out a grid of streets and sold off boxy parcels, mostly without proper title. In a burst of urban migration in the midth century, new arrivals to Neza set up shacks of wood and cardboard, without electricity, a sewage system or running water, schools or paved roads.

A bus came by every two hours or so, old timers say. We have water, we have sewage, and they've fixed up the roads a little. When Victoria Gomez Calderon, 82, moved to Neza from eastern Mexico as a young woman, the putrid remains of the lake were just a half block from her tiny home. Residents banded together to demand services in the s, and a government program to formalise ownership provided land titles, experts say.

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Neza's reputation as the world's largest slum, coined when its population was combined with two other blighted areas decades ago, no longer applies, they say. That spirit remains, said Maria del Carmen Moreno Moreno, 50, who is adding an extra room and bathroom to her house in Neza, where she has lived since she was a small child.

If someone has a problem, we can give them a helping hand," she said. It's not like Western Europe and the States where as soon as anybody's got a bit more money, they move house. They don't do that," said Dietrichsen. Yet a lingering stigma surrounds Neza, with a reputation as a dangerous, high-crime area, said Mirna Andrade, 43, who runs the Xocoyotzin Community Center for Children. People say "Watch your stuff because he's from Neza," and a common saying is "Thieves return to sleep in Neza," she said.

The Xocoyotzin center is one of several daycare centers started by local mothers that now receives help from the global charity Save the Children.


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  • Residents say Neza needs much better schools and more local jobs. Many people make long commutes, riding battered microbuses through choking traffic to catch trains at an outlying eastern tip of Mexico City's subway system. But Neza is absent from tourist guides proposing excursions outside the city limits and its worst-off denizens hunch over open fires in front of lean-tos. Scavengers paw through trash while teenagers, identified by locals as drug dealers, stand guard on street corners.

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    Many homes do not have running water. The experience of Neza's bottom-up development can serve as a model for other blighted urban areas, said Jose Castillo, an urban planner and architect in Mexico City. Its lack of zoning, for example, means Neza is teeming with micro entrepreneurs working from home or sharing spaces in what would be called co-working in trendier places, he said.

    It's a community based on the notion that jointly these people transformed this territory. Juan Francisco Perez Buendia, 42, a lifelong resident who works for the State of Mexico's Institute of Housing, joked that people throw a lot of parties in Neza.