BUT NOT EXACTLY POOR: 2M LIVE IN SLUMS IN THE PHILIPPINES

Slum poverty in the Philippines cannot be simply addressed by traditional poverty programs such as cash transfers. The government needs to take regulatory actions that cut across administrative boundaries, a study published by the Asian Development Bank said. The ADB publication titled, The Environments of the Poor in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific, said that while many countries have made progress in reducing poverty, living standards for many poor people remain a major challenge due to the worsening environment degradation and increasing vulnerability to climate change. The book compiled several papers on countries in the three regions, one of which looked into the situation of those individuals located in slum areas in the Philippines. The paper titled, “Slum Poverty in the Philippines: Can the Environment Agenda Drive Public Action?” mentioned that Metro Manila is home to about two million slum dwellers, which make up 16 percent of the city’s population in 2010. However, it said that households in slum areas are not necessarily income poor. The report, authored by Philippine Institute for Development Studies Senior Research Fellow Marife Ballesteros, said that in 2010, more than 50 percent of the urban slum population in Manila live above the poverty line and can spend between $2 and $4 per day, but still reside in poor environments. “The slum-dwellers who live above the poverty line usually make minimum salaries or wages and work casually. They continue living in the slums because there is no alternative shelter in the city and they cannot afford the cost of travelling from distant, less expensive, peri-urban regions for work and income earning opportunities in urban centers,” the study said. READ MORE...

ALSO: Want to know what to do about slum dwellers? Try listening to them

The Filipino government wants to move half a million Manila slum dwellers back to the countryside. Yet they left for a reason. If you have access to BBC output, I strongly recommend a programme and article about slums, aired on radio and television last week. You will be taken on a tour of a slum in Manila, learn about some of the people who live there, and hear what experts think about the future of slums. Slums are without doubt a huge development issue. According to the programme, as many as a billion people live in them today, a number set to double by 2050. Manila is growing by 60 people an hour, making it the fastest growing city on the planet. In comparison, Indian cities are growing by about 40 people an hour, while London's rate is seven people an hour. Anyone who has worked with people living in slums will recognise the vivacity and can-do attitude that pervades the programme (which is not to romanticise very difficult, dirty and often violent conditions). Their programme offered many lessons, but I particularly heeded the one my colleague Claire Melamed constantly highlights – the importance of listening to poor people about what they want. It is unusual to get such a long look at the lives of slum dwellers from their own perspective. The main issue is the insecurity of land – they have no right to be where they are. The Filipino government wants to move half a million slum dwellers back to the countryside. But there are good reasons people have left the land they have lived on for generations to seek a better life in precarious wooden shacks next to rubbish tips.

PERSPECTIVE: How materialism makes us sad; The more we spend, the less happy we are.

BY TANYA GOLD (photo)--- Graham Music, a psychotherapist, has written a book called The Good Life: Wellbeing and the New Science of Altruism, Selfishness and Immorality. It confirms, through use of data collected by scientists over the last 40 years, what we have all long suspected from anecdote and our own eyes: the materialistic tend to be unhappy, those with material goods will remain unhappy, and the market feeds on unhappiness. It is an outreach programme for personal and political desolation; and it is, so far, an outstanding success. Peel away the images of the gaudy objects and find instead a condition. Reading Vanity Fair, I deduce, is now mere collusion with the broken. I have struggled, for instance, to understand why a British cabinet so loaded with the affluent should be blithe in taking from those who have less – the destruction of the educational maintenance allowance, the bedroom tax, the despicable campaign against disabled people and the unemployed, and so on and on. Why would a wealthy Tory MP (I close my eyes, and land, randomly, on Nadhim Zahawi of Stratford-on-Avon) overcharge the public by more than £4,000 to heat his stables and yet languidly vote for austerity measures? (Not his austerity, obviously: austerity is for the already poor). It was always madness, even as they pushed the "big society", and when that imploded like a farting balloon painted an entire class as undeserving, which will be the epitaph of this government: to the undeserving, nothing. Others call this the language of "class war", an effective and duplicitous soundbite designed to terrify. War? Who wants war? No one, of course. Except it is not class war. Or rather, there is confusion about who, exactly, is the aggressor. A study at Berkeley University, quoted by Music, provides an answer to the question of why wealthy politicians act as they do, although I do not doubt they delude themselves as to their motives: "The higher up the social-class ranking people are, the less pro-social, charitable and empathetically they behaved … consistently those who were less rich showed more empathy and more of a wish to help others." This would be an obvious point, except it is daily contradicted by the appalling "skivers versus strivers" rhetoric, a false dichotomy that is also moronic propaganda-by-rhyme. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS:

BUT NOT EXACTLY POOR; 2M LIVE IN SLUMS IN PH

MANILA, MAY 19, 2014 (MALAYA BUSINESS INSIGHTS) Slum poverty in the Philippines cannot be simply addressed by traditional poverty programs such as cash transfers. The government needs to take regulatory actions that cut across administrative boundaries, a study published by the Asian Development Bank said.

The ADB publication titled, The Environments of the Poor in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and the Pacific, said that while many countries have made progress in reducing poverty, living standards for many poor people remain a major challenge due to the worsening environment degradation and increasing vulnerability to climate change.

The book compiled several papers on countries in the three regions, one of which looked into the situation of those individuals located in slum areas in the Philippines.

The paper titled, “Slum Poverty in the Philippines: Can the Environment Agenda Drive Public Action?” mentioned that Metro Manila is home to about two million slum dwellers, which make up 16 percent of the city’s population in 2010.


Manila slum The Filipino government claims it would cost about a third of the national budget to rehouse Manila's slum dwellers. Photograph: Jay Directo/AFP/Getty Images

However, it said that households in slum areas are not necessarily income poor.

The report, authored by Philippine Institute for Development Studies Senior Research Fellow Marife Ballesteros, said that in 2010, more than 50 percent of the urban slum population in Manila live above the poverty line and can spend between $2 and $4 per day, but still reside in poor environments.

“The slum-dwellers who live above the poverty line usually make minimum salaries or wages and work casually. They continue living in the slums because there is no alternative shelter in the city and they cannot afford the cost of travelling from distant, less expensive, peri-urban regions for work and income earning opportunities in urban centers,” the study said.

“At the same time, not all the poor live in slums. Some are scattered around the city in areas with similar physical environments as the slums — a deficit of infrastructure and an insecurity of tenure,” it added.

The publication said that on a daily basis, slum dwellers are confronted with congestion, substandard housing, and a physically deteriorated environment that lacks public services altogether or has them only in a poorly maintained state.

The study noted that some slums have been formed in hazardous places, such as fault lines, unstable slopes, and rivers banks, among others.

“These locations are vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change. These environmental conditions lead to deepening poverty and rising inequalities through the following channels,” it said.

The report added that climate change is expected to increase illness in slums through increasingly severe and frequent natural hazards.

“The slum environment requires people with low income to pay more for basic services. It also requires them to pay for services to defend themselves from the likely effects of climate change in their living environment,” the study said.

“Unfortunately, these problems do not motivate the government to act since the government does not look at shelter deprivation as part of urban poverty caused by the environment. Shelter deprivation is mainly perceived as income poverty,” it added.

The publication said that government programmes on shelter are mostly directed to improving affordability of individual households, while less attention is given to settlement planning and infrastructure development.

“The threat to settlements brought about by climate change are mainly translated into activities and strategies for disaster response rather than effective prevention,” it said.

The report argued that slum poverty cannot be simply addressed by cash transfer programs.

“Slum formation and growth is not the simple result of rapid urbanization or income poverty, but also of a weak regulatory environment for urban planning, land development, and land markets. Insufficient government spending on infrastructure is also a major factor in slum formation,” it said.

The study said that the solution to slum poverty involves giving adequate attention to town planning to ensure appropriate land use planning and proper implementation of building codes and environmental laws.

“The provision of space for housing low-income families and the expansion of urban infrastructure to underserved, informal settlements should be an integral component of town planning,” the report said.

“Unlike in rural areas and smaller towns, where space allows more opportunities for the poor to change their environment, in metropolitan cities and slums individual households’ adaptation to climate change induced flooding and heat waves, and to congestion cannot substitute proper town planning,” it added.

The study concluded that adaptation requires government investment and regulatory actions, which is only effective through a strong presence of the national government, specifically for concerns that cut across boundaries of lower administrative or political units.

FROM A REPORT FROM THE HOMELESS INTERNATIONAL.ORG


IN THE PHILIPPINES: CHILD IN THE SLUM SITTING IN A TRAIN TRACK

One billion people in the world live in slums. That's one in seven of us. Unless urgent action is taken, 1.4 billion people will live in slums by 2020.

What are slums?

The United Nations characterises slums/informal settlements by one or more of the following:

*Poor structural quality and durability of housing
*Insufficient living areas (more than three people sharing a room)
*Lack of secure tenure
*Poor access to water
*Lack of sanitation facilities

Facts about slums:

Today, more people live in urban areas than rural areas and city populations are growing by more than 200,000 new inhabitants each day.

Cities in developing countries are expected to absorb 95 per cent of urban population growth in the next two decades, increasing the slum population by nearly 500 million between now and 2020.

Cities account for some 70 per cent of global GDP and city slums are often economically vibrant; around 85 per cent of all new employment opportunities around the world occur in the informal economy.

FROM THE UK GUARDIAN

Want to know what to do about slum dwellers? Try listening to them Paul Mason: BBC Newsnight's economics editor is to join Channel 4 News.


IN ADDRESSING the housing needs in our country, SHDA believes that a roadmap must take into consideration urban dwellers living in slums. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC INQUIRER 2012 PHOTO

The Filipino government wants to move half a million Manila slum dwellers back to the countryside. Yet they left for a reason.

If you have access to BBC output, I strongly recommend a programme and article about slums, aired on radio and television last week. You will be taken on a tour of a slum in Manila, learn about some of the people who live there, and hear what experts think about the future of slums.

Slums are without doubt a huge development issue. According to the programme, as many as a billion people live in them today, a number set to double by 2050. Manila is growing by 60 people an hour, making it the fastest growing city on the planet. In comparison, Indian cities are growing by about 40 people an hour, while London's rate is seven people an hour.

Anyone who has worked with people living in slums will recognise the vivacity and can-do attitude that pervades the programme (which is not to romanticise very difficult, dirty and often violent conditions).

Their programme offered many lessons, but I particularly heeded the one my colleague Claire Melamed constantly highlights – the importance of listening to poor people about what they want. It is unusual to get such a long look at the lives of slum dwellers from their own perspective.

The main issue is the insecurity of land – they have no right to be where they are. The Filipino government wants to move half a million slum dwellers back to the countryside.

But there are good reasons people have left the land they have lived on for generations to seek a better life in precarious wooden shacks next to rubbish tips.

A combination of conflict, climate change (slum dwellers claim there are more typhoons and floods in rural areas) and chronic poverty makes life in the countryside unbearable. There are no jobs.

Meanwhile, in the slum, we hear of people graduating from university and seeing real prospects for the next generation.

The only sustainable way to repopulate the countryside is to provide opportunities there. In the programme, we hear of guards being placed around evicted slums to prevent previous occupants returning.

Rather than move people on, the slums can be slowly formalised, with public goods provided. This has happened in many cities. In others, the slums were just demolished.

There are always reasons to move people off their land, and usually "development", that most treacherous of terms, is one of them.

But there is a rule I apply to these kinds of actions: if the solution prescribed by a politician or "philanthropist" also happens to be in their own private interest, be sceptical. (Which does not mean some solutions are not win-win, especially in the long term.)

Housing aside, it is the intangibles associated with a life built up over decades that are lost when people leave their land, whether in cities or countryside. Remove them to another part of the country and they are dependent on others, with no political voice or organisation.

The Filipino government estimates the cost of rehousing slum dwellers in Manila at about a third of the national budget; it is cheaper to ship them off to the countryside. This coming from a government that, the UNDP suggested in 2007, loses $2 billion of its budget to corruption annually. Those creaming off this money are the same hypocrites claiming it is too expensive to house poor people better.

Slum dwellers are organising themselves to defend against government aggression and what they believe is the threat of arson. "We will barricade, we will fight for our freedom and security of tenures," says one community leader.

Their fight has strong precedents. All over the world, as urbanisation has gathered pace, country people have arrived in cities. They have set up their shacks (black plastic bags strung up on sticks) and slowly converted them into more acceptable living quarters, buying a few bricks every month, volunteering at the school, pressuring the local council to provide running water. With the international media spotlight on them, they have a greater chance of success. Governments can get away with less than they used to now.

It is a hopeful story, but one curious aspect of humanity seems to be its ability to pull together in a crisis, only to fall apart when things become more comfortable. I remember a visit I made to families in the south of Bogota who had lived through the process of urbanisation. They looked back on that period of coping and difficulty with nostalgia. That was when there was a community, they said – not like now. Today, all the kids are out for themselves and drugs have become a problem. It was the struggle for better living conditions that brought them together.

Paul Mason, the reporter on the BBC programme, ended on a more optimistic note. Citing British slum history as a precedent, he suggested that the generation of kids sloshing around the wet slum may one day take what they have learned about organisation and cohesion into the wider world.


Paul Mason: BBC Newsnight's economics editor is to join Channel 4 News. Photograph: Emma Lynch

PERSPECTIVE FROM UB GUARDIAN (BBC)

How materialism makes us sad; The more we spend, the less happy we are. Tanya Gold The Guardian, Wednesday 7 May 2014


THE AUTHOR: Tanya Gold

Can this explain why affluent politicians insist on taking from the poor?


A woman shops in a Louis Vuitton store 'Money is a brutalising agent and a paranoiac drug.' Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters

Graham Music, a psychotherapist, has written a book called The Good Life: Wellbeing and the New Science of Altruism, Selfishness and Immorality.

It confirms, through use of data collected by scientists over the last 40 years, what we have all long suspected from anecdote and our own eyes: the materialistic tend to be unhappy, those with material goods will remain unhappy, and the market feeds on unhappiness.

It is an outreach programme for personal and political desolation; and it is, so far, an outstanding success. Peel away the images of the gaudy objects and find instead a condition. Reading Vanity Fair, I deduce, is now mere collusion with the broken.

I have struggled, for instance, to understand why a British cabinet so loaded with the affluent should be blithe in taking from those who have less – the destruction of the educational maintenance allowance, the bedroom tax, the despicable campaign against disabled people and the unemployed, and so on and on.

Why would a wealthy Tory MP (I close my eyes, and land, randomly, on Nadhim Zahawi of Stratford-on-Avon) overcharge the public by more than £4,000 to heat his stables and yet languidly vote for austerity measures? (Not his austerity, obviously: austerity is for the already poor).

It was always madness, even as they pushed the "big society", and when that imploded like a farting balloon painted an entire class as undeserving, which will be the epitaph of this government: to the undeserving, nothing. Others call this the language of "class war", an effective and duplicitous soundbite designed to terrify. War? Who wants war? No one, of course.

Except it is not class war. Or rather, there is confusion about who, exactly, is the aggressor.

A study at Berkeley University, quoted by Music, provides an answer to the question of why wealthy politicians act as they do, although I do not doubt they delude themselves as to their motives: "The higher up the social-class ranking people are, the less pro-social, charitable and empathetically they behaved … consistently those who were less rich showed more empathy and more of a wish to help others."

This would be an obvious point, except it is daily contradicted by the appalling "skivers versus strivers" rhetoric, a false dichotomy that is also moronic propaganda-by-rhyme.

Tim Kasser, for instance, a psychology professor at Knox College, Illinois, notes that if you love material objects, you are less likely to love people and so, of course, the planet.

The connection between the rise of materialism and indifference to the environment is not coincidental; nor is the connection between the rise of materialism and growing inequality, and fear of the stranger, which expresses itself here in a despicable loathing for the Roma, for instance, and there in a fashionable fetish for Ukip. Money is a brutalising agent and a paranoiac drug.

And so it drips down, an infection swallowing happiness and peace. Inequality leads to an erosion of trust between people. When you couch a premise in the language of the market, people become more suspicious and less kindly.

This is potentially disastrous, as public services are sold and patients find themselves transformed into consumers. In one fascinating study, people were asked to imagine a hypothetical water shortage; those described as "consumers" were less likely to share the hypothetical water than those described as "individuals".

Even the language corrupts. Advertising ratchets up the stress, and places us in imagined competition with each other. It encourages yet more materialism, which follows the paths of drug addiction: it offers a false promise of ecstasy, and it does not work. The more we spend on unnecessary material goods, the less happy we are. Mental illness, narcissism and dissatisfaction instead follow.

Here, then, is a world wrought in the image of Dr No.

"Those with more materialistic values consistently have worse relationships, with more conflict," Music writes. "This is significant if the perceived shift towards more materialistic values in the west is accurate." We cannot say we were not warned.

Twitter: @TanyaGold1


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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