Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Slums are usually characterized by high rates of poverty and unemployment and are breeding centers for many social problems such as crime, recreational drugs, alcoholism, and despair. In many poor countries they are also breeding centers for disease due to unsanitary conditions. Though the terms are often now used interchangeably, slums and ghettoes differ in that ghettoes originally referred to a neighborhood based on shared ethnicity.
In many slums, especially in poor countries, people live in very narrow alleys that do not allow vehicles (like ambulances and fire trucks) to pass. The lack of services such as routine garbage collection allows garbage to accumulate in huge quantities. In some slums people collect the city cans for a living, later recycling them for the money.
Many governments around the world have attempted to solve the problems of slums by clearing away old decrepit housing and replacing it with modern (usually high rise) housing with much better sanitation. This process of slum clearance is sometimes also called gentrification. Slum clearances, however, have not usually been successful in reducing the social problems associated with slums. Where communities have been moved out of slum areas to better housing, social cohesion may be lost. If the community is not moved, residents of the new housing face the same problems of poverty and unemployment.
- Every third person will be a slum dweller within 30 years, UN agency warns; John Vidal ; The Guardian; October 4, 2003.
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