A slum is a highly populated neighbourhood that merely exists outside approved zones for settlements. It consists of lowly built shelters such as shanties and thatched houses in an untidy environment. Slums usually spring up in suburban areas of cities with impoverished people who cannot afford decent accommodation in the town.
Houses in slummy areas are nucleated with little or no distance from each other, occupancy is based on first come first build, and the population is always on the rise due to poverty, unemployment and extreme hardship suffered by residents of cities where they are located.
Several people who live in slummy areas are there due to the harsh economic conditions and inability to pay rent in preferred neighbourhoods. Slum is dominated by people who are not only physically poor but mentally restrained.
The majority are physically incapacitated or handicapped and are unable to fend for themselves; those who moved in with their family do so because of a lack of capacity to cater for their family’s daily needs coupled with payments of annual rents in better accommodations.
Living in a slum could be demoralizing to inhabitants as a result of the high level of negative impact it could have on their children and the discomforts experienced especially during heavy pours when a lot of roofs are blown away and buildings collapse from their foundations due to structural imbalance and use of inferior materials for construction.
Daily residents are “fear gripped” by the unknown particularly at night when their female children go out prostituting and end up kidnapped, raped, arrested or killed in the process. It becomes scarier to think that the Government could remember the neighbourhood and decide to pull everything down thereby rendering them homeless. Life in the slum could be cheap but the fears and worries outweigh the advantages.
The fact that governments come and go and none looks in the direction of lifting slum residents from their current predicament is more worrisome than the slum itself.
Characteristics of Slum
Dirty Environment: A slummy environment is characterized by a dirty environment due to laxity in sanitation culture which makes it unhealthy for habitation.
Scattered Structures/Houses: Poor planning of slummy area projects scattered houses here and there without bearing, partition, setback or allowance for safety measures. The nature of this arrangement causes great confusion and internal crises daily.
Dane of Thuggery and Criminal Vices: Slums are usually hideouts for criminals such as armed robbers, bandits and kidnappers because of the lack of security presence and inadequate policing in such vicinity.
Lack of Adequate Infrastructural Facility: Slum residents are sometimes referred to as outcasts without bearing. The government hardly ever remember them during the allocation of infrastructural facilities; though slum residents can be seen as internally displaced however, they build and occupy areas outside approved zones for residential development which makes them squatters in such areas.
Electricity connections to these areas are mostly tapped from neighbouring communities based on settle-to-tap current. It’s unlawful hence placing them in a disadvantaged position.
Presence of Medical Quackery: Several cases of abortion in Africa emanate from slum areas while the majority of them lead to death due to the high level of medical quackery in the neighbourhood. A series of deaths are recorded in slums, unfortunately, only a few arrests are recorded as residents connive in protecting the perpetrators.
Hideouts of Kidnapers: Many kidnapped victims have been rescued from the slum dens. Slum areas are perfect hideouts for the kidnap business, it appears that evidence and traces are easily cleaned up and hidden from security operatives whenever they come for investigations or searches in slums.
Poor Housing Structure: The houses which are mostly thatched are not built to approved specifications hence, risky and dangerous to live in due to possible collapse.
Overcrowding: Slum areas are always overpopulated with the impoverished.
Inadequate Access to Good Water Supply: Clean water is usually sourced from nearby communities and neighbourhoods because of the short supply to blight areas.
High-Level Illiteracy: Most of the residents of slummy neighbourhoods are illiterates and as such never have plans to save up and relocate to approved and better neighbourhoods in the city.