There are 250 million people living in poor quality housing with limited access to basic services across East Asia and the Pacific, the World Bank said in a report on Tuesday.
There are 250 million people living in poor quality housing with limited access to basic services across East Asia and the Pacific, the World Bank said in a report on Tuesday. The report, titled “Expanding Opportunities for the Urban Poor”, observed that the region of East Asia and the Pacific enjoys the highest urban development, but it also has the world’s largest slum population of 250 million with a shortage of public services in countries such as China, Indonesia and the Philippines.
It said conditions in these settlements were dismal, with settlers living in overcrowded colonies without access to tap water, electricity, sewage disposal, public transportation, and affordable housing, Efe news reported. Slums “mark the sites of deprivation and exclusion (monetary, infrastructural, social, and political) within the urban-built environment” and “signal a trend towards the urbanisation of poverty”, the World Bank said in the report.
It also said that urban growth helped lift about 655 million out of poverty in East Asia and the Pacific in the past 20 years. But it had also led to widening inequality. The organization said improvement in urban infrastructure in countries like Japan, South Korea and Singapore had not only helped its poorest residents but also contributed to the growth of their economies. Currently, 75 million people in the region live on less than $3.10 a day and by 2018, half of the region’s population — more than 1.2 billion — will live in urban areas.
In Indonesia, 27 per cent of the urban population had no access to effective sanitation facilities while that number in the Philippines was 21 per cent. According to the World Bank, the urban poor also lack employment opportunities and adequate access to public transport while being more exposed to natural disaster risk. “Cities across East Asia have propelled the region’s tremendous growth. Our collective challenge is to expand opportunities to all in the cities — from new migrants living in the peripheries to factory workers struggling to pay rent — so that they can benefit more from urbanisation and help fuel even stronger growth,” said Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Vice President for East Asia and the Pacific.
The organisation’s recommendations in the report included connecting the urban poor with job market, investing in urban planning, ensuring housing, helping the neglected sub-groups among the urban poor and improving information systems.