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Investment News and Commentary from Emerging Markets in Asia - China, India and ASEAN

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U.N. Report: India and China Massively Improving Slums

May 11 – China and India have improved the lives of more slum dwellers than any other country, the United Nations Human Settlements Program newly launched State of the World Cities 2010/2011 report said.

UN-HABITAT’s report, which was launched in Nairobi on Monday night, says that the two countries have lifted at least 125 million out of slums between 1990 and 2010.

“China’s achievement has been the most spectators, with improvements to the daily conditions of 65.3 million urban residents who were deprived of shelter,” the report said.

Proportionally, China’s urban population living in slums fell from 37.3 percent in 2000 to some 28.2 percent in 2010, a relative decrease of 25 percent.

Overall, the report finds that 227 million people in the world have moved out of slum conditions since 2000. At the same time, the study also stresses that 55 million new slum dwellers have been added to the global urban population since 2000.

The report uses the framework of “The Urban Divide” to analyze complex social, political, economic and cultural dynamics of urban environments.  The number of people living in slums rose from 777 million in 2000 to 830 million in 2010 the report found. Unless urgent steps are taken, UN-HABITAT warned, that number could rise to 900 million in 2020.

The report stated that Beijing has done a good job improving the living conditions of its poorest citizens by embracing economic reforms and implementing modernization policies that have used urbanization to drive national growth. “Its pro-growth policies, among which is a focus on improving the lives of the poor, have resulted in a reduction in the number of slum dwellings,” the report said.

A strategy of enabling slum dwellers to gain access to more than 20 million new and affordable housing units has been particularly successful. “The state did this by using equity grants as a mortgage to get leases on cheap housing built by developers and by giving developers special tax rates to encourage development of cheap homes,” the report said.

According to UN-HABITAT, India has lifted 59.7 million people out of slums conditions since 2000. Slum prevalence fell from 41.5 percent in 1990 to 28.1 percent in 2010. This is a relative decrease of 32 percent, “Lessening poverty and improving conditions in slums are part of India’s urban development policy.”

India achieved this by improving the skills of the urban poor in their chosen businesses and by providing micro-credit loans and basic services within slum settlements the report said.

Increasing urbanization has led to a growth in new slum- dwellers, and the total number of people now living in crowded, substandard housing, often without safe drinking water and sanitation, has increased by nearly 55 million since 2000.

The worldwide number of slum-dwellers now stands at 827 million and is on course to grow to 889 million by 2020.

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9 Responses to U.N. Report: India and China Massively Improving Slums

  1. XXX says:

    It is a bit far fetched to link India with China on the topic of slums and slum reduction.

    I don’t know if you’ve been to China. I went to tiny remote townships in the Zhejiang province in China 15 years ago (1995). Even in those poor far flung places 15 years ago, places were (relatively) clean and tidy, and well organized. Homes were simple but cosy. And the people were surprisingly well dressed considering these were places in the middle of nowhere.

    It is not an exageration to say that most places even in the biggest cities of India today would not be comparable to those poor far flung places in China.

  2. Monte Christo says:

    Quote from XXX”Even in those poor far flung places 15 years ago, places were (relatively) clean and tidy, and well organized. Homes were simple but cosy. And the people were surprisingly well dressed considering these were places in the middle of nowhere”.

    Same could be said of India’s North East.

  3. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    There are many places in China I have been to that have abject poverty. Zhejiang, after all, is one of China’s wealthiest provinces. But take into account some of the conditions in Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu Guangxi and Xinjiang and you’re looking at real degredation. The only real difference between that and India at times is the heat.

  4. Monte Christo says:

    Well in India it would be the BIMARU states( Sick states) Bihar,Madhya pradesh,Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh that are backward in terms of development and poor literacy rates.Its the Hindi heartland with lots of Natural resources and population.

  5. Chris Devonshire-Ellis says:

    The South China Morning Post just carried a piece on an increase of 19% in poverty in Hong Kong. It’s a growing problem in emerging markets. There are those who undoubtedly get left behind, and mainland China’s social behavior isn’t looking too clever at the moment either.

  6. Titan_2000 says:

    I visited lots of remote place that have abject poverty in Sichuan, Gansu, Xingjiang of China. Most of them are still better than the slum in Mumbai I visited.

  7. The_Observer says:

    Hong Kong’s poverty rate has to be put in context. It is unofficial and defined in relative terms. It is not defined as living on less than US $1.25 per day as in India. In Hong Kong, poverty is generally defined as living under a monthly income less than or equal to half of the median income of all other households of equal size. For example, for the year 2005:

    Half of the median monthly domestic household
    income of the corresponding household size,
    Household Size
    1 person HK$ 3,000 translates to roughly US$14.25 per day
    2 persons HK$ 6,400 @ US$14.45 per person per day
    3 persons HK$ 8,000 @ US$11.85 per person per day
    4 persons HK$ 9,800 @ US$10.90 per person per day

    Even allowing for the higher costs in Hong Kong compared to India, the poor in Hong Kong are still better off in terms of education, employment, health care, nutrition, pay and life expectancy.

  8. Carlos says:

    Oh, there is no doubt that India is poorer than China. Lets not even talk of Hong Kong.

    50 years from now, will the difference increase or decrease or reverse ???

  9. Prof.Deepak Bhatnagar says:

    I am workng as Director of the Centre for Local Government Studies, Dept. of Public Administration, Univeristy of Rajasthan Jaipur-302004.

    Ths Centre is a dedicate dCentre for research on topical themes from the field of Urban and Local Governments.
    The study of Slums is very much related with the maiden objectives of this Centre. Kindly, also mail me other relevant material on Inclusive development in India or other countries to help us develop a comparative perspectives on the policies and programmes followed.

    Prof.Deepak Bhatnagar

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