Jake’s ‘Sunday Post’ WordPress challenge, “Shelter,” got me thinking of all the people here in South Africa who can’t afford proper shelter and housing for their families. Almost every day when I drive around to various places within quite a small radius of my home, I see what in our country are called “Squatter camps.” We passed by this one on the way to do some shopping yesterday.
Some people prefer to call these unfortunate folk, “shack dwellers,” and the places where they have in desperation, set up home with any materials they can lay their hands on, are named by the government, “Informal settlements.” I suppose this sounds a little less shocking, but whatever you may name it, doesn’t change the fact that these families, through poverty, are living in the most appalling conditions.
These next two settlements are on the road which leads from Durban up to my sister’s house.
The inhabitants of these ramshackle structures, face a range of social problems, from a lack of clean water and electricity in their homes, to inadequate health care, and crime, not to mention very real fire risk. It’s a very sad situation, which is by no means unique to South Africa. These residential formations which are built without legal permits, house approximately a billion people worldwide, according to ‘UN Habitat.’ The make-shift shelters are constructed out of anything they can find, from corrugated iron and old wooden boxes, to plastic sheeting Many people will be born in such places, with no hope of ever improving their lot. Others are forced into living this way, because of a declining economy which has taken away their means of supporting themselves and their family in the manner which they were previously used to.
This settlement is set on a hill, overlooking the municipal refuse dump. These shelters are people’s homes, but I can’t help feeling that the inhabitants must feel as though they have also been cast out with the rubbish.
There’s no overnight solution to this terrible state of affairs, but if all governments would act with the best interests of their populace at heart, and throw themselves into job creation and decent education for everyone, I’m sure that this problem could be eradicated quite quickly. Sad to say, “Pigs might fly” first.
Have a great weekend everyone. Chat again soon.