Slums is a word that I never really understood until I reed more about the slums in Bangkok and the book Planet of the Slums by Mike Davis. The overall out look of slums is described as “an area of dirty back streets, especially when inhabited by squalid and criminal population”; although we do not see a lot of the slums in the United States they are very commonplace to live in the third world countries. Bangkok, Thailand has plenty of slums but there not your typical slums. The people that live in these low-income communities aren’t all poor and some only stay there for a near commute to work. Some slums are even broken down into subsystems, it was interesting to see this because it is more popular in private, rich, gated communities.
The oldest and largest slum development in Bangkok is Klong Toey, which has been there for over 50 years. Those that live there have mainly come to Bangkok for job opportunities, they however have no legal restriction to the land that they occupy and face threats of eviction. Port Authority of Thailand (PAT) owns the slums therefore these people have no running water, or electricity. The homes may look like old shacks just clustered together made of thin metal and other resources that residents can find but it’s the town and home to over 100,000 people.
Drug use is an extreme issue that people living in slums are faced with as well as the lack of education and violence not only in Bangkok but in other slums as well. In chapter fourof Planet of Slums, Davis explains the high amount of crime and disease. It’s sad to see how the landlords took advantage of slum developers by making profit in investing in the land. The slums were so overcrowded with diseases just spreading because these were the only housing options that the poor could afford. The news article “Children in Bangkok Slums Facing Dire Plight” by Nirmal Ghosh written as recent as March 12, 2012, discusses Pla and Nio, who are two little girls that come from crack addict families that don’t care about them. The United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), reported on Feb. 29, that half of the world's children live in urban areas. One billion people live in slums, a sizable number of children like Plaa and Noi are growing up in an environment of violence and exploitation while being deprived of basic needs, in particular security and freedom from violence. Stories like these is what makes it so mind blowing to picture 3 and 4 year olds basically having to survive on their own.
There are foundations in Bangkok, that do help children like Plaa and Noi. Duang Prateep Foundation (Flame of Enlightenment) in Thailand was founded in 1978. The company says that they recognized that the problems of the urban and the rural are related so they try to provide help to children throughout Thailand. This foundation is helping areas such as education, health, social service, human help, and emergency services such as those who are victims of a fire, which are very common in Bangkok, fires are considered to be a way to evict residents from slum areas, as the area needs to be cleared and remain vacant for 45 days after the fire.
Floods are another major issue in the slums area especially of those that live near the Bangbua Canal. According to an article by The Nation, “More than a million Thais are homeless as their houses are submerged. They have difficulties in access to healthcare and sanctuary centres. Food and water have become scarce.” This issue occurs often making it even more difficult for slum residents who lose the very little that the do have.