A Changing World


An issue that is changing the world

A prominent UN-HABITAT survey shows that one in six people in the world today live in a migrant slum. Within a few decades, that number will grow to one in three1. Between 2000 and 2030, the urban areas of developing countries will absorb 95 per cent of world’s Population growth2.

In a more recent report the UN estimates that the number of people living in slums passed 1 billion in 2007 and could reach 1.39 billion in 2020, although there are large variations among regions. In Asia and the Pacific, two out of five urban dwellers live in slums, compared with three out of five in Africa. In percentage terms, sub-Saharan Africa has about 72 percent of city dwellers living in slums3.

Excessive levels of urbanization in relation to economic growth have resulted in high levels of urban poverty and rapid expansion of unplanned urban settlements and slums, which are characterized by a lack of basic infrastructure and municipal services, overcrowding and substandard housing conditions. Slums have wide adverse impacts on people and the society at large.

Sixty per cent of the slum dwellers in the world are in Asia. In addition to China, many Asian countries such as Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal and Philippines are confronted with similarly acute migrant situations. Differing political systems aside, at the heart of the migrant issue is the scourge of social exclusion.

To address these problems, governments, the public, and the business sector must pool their resources together to create vibrant migrant communities and then integrate those communities into society at large.

China, as the country hosting “the largest populations living in informal dwellings,” can take the lead by “sharing its experiences and challenges along the way with other countries”4. With over 260 million migrants and 25 million migrant children5, China is in a strategically advantageous position to align government, business, and non-profit efforts to design genuine solutions to this pressing issue. A successful capacity-building model for migrant communities can have the potential to be replicated elsewhere in developing Asia and in the rest of the world.

The positive impact of empowered migrant communities on society, economies, and the environment in emerging nations globally could be very significant.

Citing sources below:

  1. UN-HABITAT. 2003. The Challenge of Slums: Global Report on Human Settlements.
  2. UN-HABITAT. 2006. "State of the world's cities 2006/7." UN-HABITAT: Nairobi, Kenya, p10.
  3. Hernandez, Ignacio. 2009. "Urbanization and Growth." World Bank Friday's Academy, April 17. Available from: Here (Accessed Feb 4, 2013).
  4. Hursh, J. 2011. "Migrant slums Are THE global Issue of this century." Huffington Post Online: Impact, October 6. Available from: Here (Accessed Feb 4, 2013).
  5. PRC National Bureau of Statistics. 2012. National Survey Report for 2011. NBoS China Online, April 27. Available from Here (Accessed Feb 4, 2013).