Improving Slums

We had a debate in our geography class last year about which issues were most important to resolve when upgrading slums. We were each assigned a particular aspect of the worst-case situation to argue as a priority to resolve, and asked to come up with some means to solve it. That’s why this might come off as very poorly structured (even by my standards). I’m also mentioning that explanation as I’m not sure where my notes on healthcare measures went, and this is likely to be updated once I’ve found (or remade) them.

Physical Infrastructure

  • 84% of houses have no water supply. Illegal water sellers are expensive, and many people take water from rivers.
  • Roads are impermeable (leading to issues with erosion, flooding downstream and others)
  • Illegal electricity (in many slums) can lead to electrical fires
  • 90% of people in slums (worldwide) die of disease
  • Water can be purified using plastic bottles
  • Kenya has projects for community based solar power to help improve the local electrical supply
  • The Green Exchange program (where waste is exchanged for cash or food parcels. The waste is used for various purposes depending on location. In Curitiba, Brazil, it is reused for other purposes. The exact waste can vary with location, too. It helps prevent malnutrition and any issues that could arise from a dirty environment.)

Social Infrastructure (mostly referring to Rio de Janeiro)

  • 880 million people live in slums globally.
  • Complexo de Alemão is trying to reduce crime rates by building 2 primary schools, 2 creches, a technical college and a library
  • Complexo has 70,000 people with insufficient education and healthcare
  • A cable car was built to transport people from the slums to Rio’ center. This has helped unemployment rates. The stations are cheap, and have lead to greater educational, job, and healthcare options.
  • Cidade de Deus healthcare clinic was set up in the slums
  • Olympic values were taught to children; 168 schools, 100,000 children
  • Favela painting is a practice to occupy people’s time productively. The favelas are made to look better by occupying local people to paint buildings in bright colours and patterns. The normal buildings are often bare brick and mud. Very drab environments are bad for people’s emotional health, so painting the favelas in bright shades is improving people’s wellbeing.
  • There has been an 80% drop from 30,000 gun crimes per year once gangs were removed.


  • 40% live in shanty towns
  • People used to just be used to worse areas
  • Now people are provided with material
  • There are housing projects to remove the shanty areas and replace them with proper housing
  • 1/3 of people in poor cities live in self-built houses
  • The Bairro project, in Rociña, Rio de Janeiro, aims to increase the average size of slum homes to 20m^2 and to widen the main streets.
  • Barra de Tijica, Brazil, is a new town located through a mountain from Rio, providing new housing in 10-30 storey blocks, and is now home to 180,000 people.
  • Almost all the houses in Rociña are made out of concrete and brick, contributing to 100s of businesses
  • NGOs are working to improve the situation
  • Oxfam are working to improve the lives of 100 million people living in slums worldwide
  • Some slums still have no provision of basic services.


  • Oxfam provides water tanks for affordable use in many slums
  • Most people use informal water supplies
  • in Hima, Peru, there was a census including types of businesses, which lead to improvements in encouraging foreign businesses to buy goods from slum workers.
  • Does this actually provide them with enough money to escape poverty?
  • People in slums can enter themselves in the yellow pages, which has been quite successful in Brazil and Peru.
  • However, businesses in slums are unregulated by the police, and are unprotected by the police, in many areas


  • 4.3 million cases of cholera worldwide
  • Most people produce about 300g of waste a day
  • 2.4 million people in Nairobi are living in slums
  • Composite farms gather waste in biodegradable bags, which, after 6-8 weeks, can be used as manure, leading to better soil fertility, better farming, and more food and income
  • Bioplants can be made in Kibera. Many people use the same latrine. The methane produced from this can be harvested and then resold as cooking gas, which helps kill off germs in water and food
  • Umende has 57 bio centers, and has collected 60,000 kg of waste
  • Nepal has 2.8 million people living in slums. In Kathmandu. 10,000 of the 31,000 slum dwellers are waste collectors. The informal sector work is often exploited.
  • There is an Umbrella Group which workers can register with t monitor them and give vocational training
  • The Green Exchange program in Nepal has led to 4,000 waste worker jobs, with 50% of the beneficiaries being women.

Brazil- Tourism

Brazil’s natural beauty and international from the Carnival allow Brazil to attract thousands annually, right up to 2014- 2015 and 2016 figures being yet to be consolidated (although they have likely fallen slightly so far this year due to the Zika virus.

The main attractions are Rio De Janeiro- with it’s Carnival- and the natural beauty of the country. This includes much of the Amazon rainforest, waterfalls, 8,850 km of coastline, volcanic beaches and many other attractions. Ecotourism has been a major reason for the Brazilian increase in tourism. The average growth of ecotourism in Brazil annually is around 12%.

The average number of tourists increased from 1.5 million in the 1990’s to over 4 million in 2005. Brazil had 5 million visitors in 2008. Tourists in the summer of 2004 generated US$2.78 x10^9. During the 2004 Carnival in just two weeks in the winter, 540,000 tourists visited Rio De Janeiro, generating US$270 million. In 2005, tourism represented 7% of Brazil’s employment, employing over 8 million people. Revenue from tourists reached US$5.78 x10^9 in 2008.

Benefits to tourism in Brazil

  • Popular to invest in by other countries, such as Spain; Brazil and Spain entered a partnership in 2005. It is a common destination for Spanish tourists.
  • Spain has invested US$74 million into developing hotels, infrastructure and Northern ports.
  • Small improvements to Rio De Janeiro’s major drug issues, violence and slum dwellings have been made from tourist money.
  • Money has been spent on improving security
  • Bonito in the Pantanal region has ecperienced a 2–30% increase in annual tourism; in a town of 20,000 residents, 2,000 are employed in ecotourism
  • Demand for restaurants, clubs, bars, shops, hotels and other services have improved.
  • Tourism has allowed rural dwellers a greater variety of employment; previously there were few options outside of logging, poaching and mining, but now locals have more of a variety of jobs they can enter.
  • Locals are paid to help preserve the environment as tourists don’t want to see the evidence of logging or mining in the forests.
  • Ecotourism improves local education and health compared to doing harder labour such as mining. 

(Image Sources:

Brazil- Investment in the World Cup

The FIFA world cup had a huge effect on Brazil’s tourist industry. It brought in R$57,217,000 in 24 different economic sectors. R$41,900,000 was direct and R$15,317,000 was indirect.

Investments (in Millions)

  • Media R$6,513
  • Stadiums R$4,624.45
  • Hotels R$3,163.93
  • Safety R$1,697.38
  • Reurbanisation R$2,837.3
  • Highways R$1,441.02
  • Airports R$1,213.74
  • IT R$309
  • Fan Parks R$203.85
  • Energy supply R$280.52

Manau is in the middle of the rainforest. Fan parks were set up aroudn the city to view matches and events.

According to FIPE the World Cup added US$7.6 x10^9 to the Brazilian economy. Brazil expected to have spent US$4.1 x10^9, equivalent to a +0.5% change in the GDP.

Curitiba, the Most Livable City

 Curitiba has a population of 2.5 million, and is the first Brazilian city to have delegated bus lanes as part of its integrated transport system.


The Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) system has four elements:

  • Direct line buses, operating at key pick-up points and running directly into the city centre
  • Speedy buses, operating on five main routes into and out of the city with limited stops
  • Inter-district buses, joining up districts without entering the city centre
  • Feeder mini-buses, picking up people from residential areas and taking them to terminal points on main routes

The system has a smart card system and terminals have shops, cafes and a post office. The BRT is like a cheaper rail service. The local authority has recently switched to using a mixture of diesel and biofuel which is less polluting than just diesel and also helps encourage farming and agriculture. The system maintains 2,100 buses along 385 lines. There are 5000 bus stops, 351 tube stations and 29 integrating terminals.

  • 1.3 million passengers per day
  • 80% of all commuters using the buses
  • 30 million fewer car trips per year

Waste disposal

In 1989, Curitiba became Brazil’s first city with widespread recycling facilities. Since then 419,000 tons have been separated out. 70% of the waste is recycled. The waste disposal has focused on employing the previously unemployed, including the homeless and those recovering from substance (mostly alcohol) abuse. Recovered materials are sold to local industries and fund social programs.

Green exchange

Residents of 6 neighbourhoods have been able to bring waste to centres where they have exchanged 1,000 tons of garbage for nearly a million bus tokens and 1,200 tons of food since 1991. 7,000 people benefit from about 44 tons of food annually at the moment. In 3 years, 100 schools traded 200 tons for 1.9 million books. It improves the diet of the poor and earns farmers business.

Green space

When flood control was distributed out in the 1970’s, the city used funding to but spare land and made a network of 30 parks including lakes.The city has 51 m^2 of green space per person and an effective flood control system.

There are 200 km of cycle paths and 1.5 million trees along streets. Builders get tax breaks if they integrate green space into their plans. Land around the parks is more valuable, so helps fund the city’s economy. 

Cultural heritage

Buildings are often put to use in new ways and buses when retired are used as mobile classrooms or offices. A flooded quarry turned into the Wire Opera House in two months, and another into the Free University of the Environment. The refuse dump became a botanical garden.

Down town areas have been pedestrianised somewhat, including a 24-hour mall.

The “Sol Criado” system finances restoration of historical buildings, and creation of green spaces. Buildings can be built to a “maximum” height, and if they are, they have to donate money to the Sol Criado system.


Since 1990, the Municipal Housing Fund has provided financial support for housing. After the national housing collapse in 1985, people came into Curitiba, and the city’s public housing program bought up the last empty large plot available within the city- which had enough space for 50,000 houses.   Landowners built the homes themselves and each received a pair of trees and a housing consultation with an architect.

(Image Sources: (Oren Hirsch, 2010) )