10 Largest Slum Areas in the World
With global income disparity at its highest in history, impoverished communities around the world are growing at an impossible rate, leaving hundreds of millions of people living in slum conditions. Slums have been characterized by the U.N. as informal settlements with housing of poor structural quality, insufficient living area, lack of secure tenure, poor access to water, and a dearth of sanitation. Slums have become hotbeds of disease and crime. It is estimated that more than 1 billion people are forced to live in substandard conditions across the globe, according to Homeless International. These are the 10 largest slum areas in the world.
1. Rocinha – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil The 69,000 residents of Rio de Janeiro’s Rocinha favela are just a small portion of the 11 million people estimated to live in slums surrounding Rio in Brazil. Rocinha represents the largest group, located on a steep hillside in the city. Most homes are constructed from hard rock and other raw materials, and while Rocinha does enjoy basic plumbing facilities, it is best known for its uncontrollable crime. Police bribery is commonplace, and drug traffickers have immense control over the neighborhood.
2. Makoko – Lagos, Nigeria: Makoko is unique among slums – it is actually built over the Lagos Lagoon, meaning most structures teeter precariously on stilts over the water. The population is estimated at 86,000 but thought to be much higher. This fishing village is essentially self-governing and ignored by the Nigerian government, except when it wants to destroy some of the shanty houses to make room for new buildings on the prime waterfront real estate. Nigerian security forces rarely enter Makoko, and local boys provide “local security,” ultimately running the village as they see fit. BBC reported that 11 million Lagosians representing 75 percent of the state’s population live in slums, according to NigeriaIntel.
3. Cité Soleil – Port-au-Prince, Haiti With a fairly young population of more than 400,000, Cité Soleil in Port-au-Pricne is the most densely populated area in Haiti, and it is considered one of the poorest and most dangerous slum neighborhoods in the Americas. Armed gangs have taken control of the area, and extreme violence has lowered the average life expectancy to 52. Its population exploded when a mysterious fire destroyed the nearby slum of La Saline in 1966. The displaced residents eventually found their way to Cité Soleil.
4. Khayelitsha – Cape Town, South Africa Following the end of apartheid-era in South Africa, thousands of people flocked to Cape Town in search of jobs. The city was unable to meet the housing demand for its new population, and an estimated 500,000 people now live in the Khayelitsha township, located on the Cape Flats outside of the city. Khayelitsha has an enormous young population – an estimated 40% percent of its residents are under the age of 19 – as well as a huge problem with unemployment. More than 80 percent of residents do not have jobs.
5. Dharavi – Mumbai, India An incredible 1 million people occupy the Dharavi slum located in the center of Mumbai, located on a one-square-mile former mangrove swamp land. Dharavi grew as the result of booming textile and tanning industries in Mumbai, but remains wholly inadequate to meet the needs of its inhabitants. Water scarcity is an enormous problem, as is adequate shelter. Pavement dwellers are commonplace, and it is estimated that the population density of Dharavi is 11 times higher than the rest of the city that surrounds it..
6. Manshiet – Greater Cairo, Egypt As prices in Cairo skyrocketed through the years, more and more people were pushed out of the city into slums in the greater Cairo area. Manshiet is the largest slum in the region, home to nearly 1.5 million people. Though it is largely considered a slum throughout the international community, the Egyptian government recognizes Manshiet as a “deteriorated and underserved urban residential area.” Impoverished inhabitants of the area are mixed with more middle- and high-income residents. Most residents live without water, electricity, functional plumbing and sewage systems, and lack a sustainable food supply.
7. Orangi Town – Karachi, Pakistan Thought to be the largest slum on the Asian continent, Orangi Town is located on 22 square miles that are home to more than 1.8 million people. An estimated 80 percent of its inhabitants work in the informal sector – often a euphemism for illegal activities or activities for which no taxes are collected. Thirteen official neighborhoods exist in Orangi Town, all governed by their own councils, but they have been unable to secure the resources to properly provide for their people. Although Orangi has representation in the Pakistani government, it is only in the lowest tier, and is insufficient.
8. Kibera – Nairobi, Kenya The Kibera slum is located seven kilometers outside Nairobi, but conditions are startingly different from the bustling city it borders. Only 20 percent of the slum’s 2.5 million population has electricity, and most people live in homes built by hand from scrap metal. Water access is tricky at best, and outbreaks of typhoid and cholera are not uncommon as Kibera lacks proper sewage infrastructure. Despite the enormous population, the area also lacks medical clinics or hospitals. Lack of paved roads makes access between Kibera and Nairobi extremely difficult.
9. Neza-Chalco-Itza – Mexico City, Mexico The result of Mexico City’s booming railroad industry in the early 1900s, the Neza-Chalco-Itza barrio is home to an estimated 4 million people. Located just outside Mexico City, the area developed when the city center was unable to meet increasing demand for housing. While many people live illegally on unauthorized land, some people in Neza-Chalco-Itza also inhabit vecindades, or former mansions that have been converted into low-income rental apartments.
10. The state of Maharashtra in India is one of the most developed in the country, but is also home to the largest informal settlement. Seven thousand slums exist within Maharashtra, with a combined population of more than 19 million people representing nearly 60 percent of the state’s total population. Pollution is an enormous problem in Maharashtra, and many residents suffer from health problems and rampant disease due to water and air pollution.