Negative Impact of Slum

Negative impact of slum and urban decay has been a major problems in cities around the world. Firstly, a slum is a highly populated urban residential area consisting mostly of closely packed, decrepit housing units in a situation of deteriorated or incomplete infrastructure, inhabited primarily by impoverished persons. While slums differ in size and other characteristics, most lack reliable sanitation services, supply of clean water, reliable electricity, law enforcement and other basic services. Slum residences vary from shanty houses to professionally built dwellings which, because of poor-quality construction or provision of basic maintenance, have deteriorated.

Due to increasing urbanization of the general populace, slums became common in the 18th to late 20th centuries in the United States and Europe. Slums are still predominantly found in urban regions of developing countries, but are also still found in developed economies




From the above overview a slum area is largely inhabited, by people who have migrated from other areas.

Sociologically, it is a way of life, a sub-cultural, with a set of norms and values, which is reflected  in  poor  sanitation  and  health  practices,  deviant  behaviors  and  characterized  by attributes of a party and social ills



African region has experienced high rates of urbanization and the quality of dwellings in such settlements  varies  from  the  simples  shack  to  permanent  structures,  while  access  to  water, electricity, sanitation and other basic services and infrastructure tends to be limited. The studies carried out by renowned environmentalist revealed that the third world countries such as Nigeria has squatter settlement which is characterized by uncontrolled substandard temporary dwellings, poor sanitary conditions, dilapidated structures, high occupancy ratio and further described urban slums in Chile as housing the poorest of the poor, the unemployed, the unskilled, and illiterate and often the alcoholics, the vagabond and the delinquents.




The social attribute of slum is viewed as the “zones of deterioration” which largely meant that slum dwelling areas was noted as generators of social deviation (Odonjo 1979). Also, studies conducted in Ghana, Uganda, Philippines and Venezuela by Chouinnard (1973), showed a significant degree of correlation between slum housing and deviant behavior. They are commonly seen as “breeding grounds” for social problems such as crime, drug addiction, prostitution, alcoholism etc. These are the product of the combined effects of physical and economic attributes and people from different neighborhoods fear to visit the environment at

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night as a result of high degree of crime rate.
In many poor countries they exhibit high rates of disease due to unsanitary conditions, malnutrition, and lack of basic health care. Low socioeconomic status of its residents is another common characteristic given for a slum (Alabi, 2012; George 2002).




Slum dwellers are mostly of the lowest income groups with high unemployment and low wages. A greater percentage of slum dwellers are engaged as laborers, often engaged in mean work to irk out a living. These jobs often do not attract fair and good wages, hence they cannot save or feed well, not to think of planning for the future.
Thus Porters (1971) in a note unit pail passage has described urban slum as housing the poorest of the poor, the unemployed unskilled and illiterate and often the alcoholic, the vagabond and the delinquents. The problem of slum development particularly pronounced in the old, indigenous core areas of the urban setting, poses great concern to real estate investors as it negatively affects property values (Gibbons, 2004). Many factors interplay to create property value such as: population change, changes in fashion and taste, institutional factors, technological factor, economic factors and location (Bello, 2006). Factors that negatively affect the value of real property injure ownership motives and goals. They also affect investors ‘interest and discourage subsequent investment




This views the slum environment as an enclosure for untiring toast, political radicalism and Violence. The argument have is that the socio-economic hardships and poor living Conditions could be a potential time bomb which could erupt easily into political radicalism and Violence(porters 1971). He further stated that most politicians use these slum dwellers made up of low-income earners, illiterates, delinquent, alcoholics etc. as political thugs and most times they are used as weapons against their political opponents. Those seeking political offices use these slum areas as their align ground, where the make empty promises, distribute all kinds of materials to them just to earn their votes and afterwards these people are abandoned and left hopeless.
Finally, the environmental implication of the social, economic and political perspectives of slum arising is the precipitation of decayed physical environments and coupled with demographic and other environmental and structural problems.


The phenomenon slums have been identified in various ways by different authors. According to Bergal (1965) slum can be classified into the following three ways.

  1. Original Slum: Here the environment at its early period is marked with very unsuitable buildings and this requiring clearance and development. This type of slum is observed in Wichita, Mexico.
  2. Departure Slum: This type of slum occasioned by the mass movement of middle and upper class families to other areas. As a result of lack of maintenance and regular repairs the area became deteriorated. Typical examples are found in parts of New York and Chicago in USA, and also some parts of Aba, Onitsha State and Ibadan.

   3.  Slum of Transition: This arose from blight which emerges around the central business district. There is evidence of rapid deterioration of the physical and social environment. Most residents of this area are usually transient touts, habitual beggars, alcoholics, criminals, drug addicts and homeless people.
There are therefore, other types of slum recognized by many writers include stroke [1962], which he indicated four types of slum:
[i] slum of hope with escalators
[ii] slum of despair with escalator classes
[iii] slum of despair with non-escalator classes
[iv] slum of hope with non-escalator classes.


a.       Diseconomies external to the house but internal to the area.
b.       Encroachment of non-housing uses
c.       Intensity of use
d.       Controls on rents and security of tenant
e.       Low income
f.        The problem of depreciating/deteriorating public services in city centers
g.       Planning blight


In  spite  of  the  abhor able  negative  impact  of  slum  of  housing accommodating, human health and the environment, slum plays the following functions which are considered useful in the city according Bergel (1965) and other authors on the subject.

  • Accommodation for new immigrants
    The new aerials to the city that have no other place to stay in the larger section often find resources in the squatter settlement. As middle classes left the smoke of cities, poorer people, new comers from the country side and immigrants move into the old housing stock. The first get acculturated and as the years go by, they put interest on how to make a comfortable and successful city living.
  • Accommodation for the poor
    The low income earners, fortune seekers and adventures who immigrates to the city with no person or  relation  to  stay  with  often  fund  a  slum  areas  more  economic  to  secure accommodation.
  • Sources of unskilled and semi-skilled labor
    The slum area usually provides affordable rental accommodations of these class of people most of who engage in menial jobs, brick layers, apprentices etc.
  • Promotes group association
    The members of slum area or district usually know each other, interest in close association fight for common cause nature the same attitude and sentiments to social situations and also they feel deposed and down-graded by those living well planned and elated areas.
  • Refuge or hideouts for criminals
    Slum areas are  notorious  for  harboring  arch  criminals,  miscreants,  people  of  questionable character, mean drug addicts, prostitutes, and characters which are threat to the society.
  • Sources of income for slum landlord
    Since the mean arm for the continuous existence of slum dwellings is because he slum dwellers are not able to pay for better alternative accommodations, the slum landlords  surprisingly charge high rents as a result of high demand despite the fact that these building standards, and often not in tenantable repairs. According to Bergel (1965), slum landlords are seriously in non-profitable business.


homes, shantytown, slums


Urban decay (also known as urban rot and urban blight) is the process by which a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude. It may feature de-industrialization, depopulation or DE urbanization, restructuring, abandoned buildings and infrastructure, high local unemployment, fragmented families, political disenfranchisement, crime, and a desolate city scape, known as greenfield or urban prairie.

Since the 1970s and 1980s, urban decay has been associated with Western cities, especially in North America and parts of Europe (mostly the United Kingdom and France). Since then, major structural changes in global economies, transportation, and government policy created the economic and then the social conditions resulting in urban decay.

The effects counter the development of most of Europe and North America; on other continents, urban decay is manifested in the peripheral slums at the outskirts of a metropolis, while the city center and the inner city retain high real estate values and sustain a steadily increasing populace. In contrast, North American and British cities often experience population flights to the suburbs and exurb commuter towns; often in the form of white flight. Another characteristic of urban decay is blight—the visual, psychological, and physical effects of living among empty lots, buildings and condemned houses.

Urban decay has no single cause; it results from combinations of inter-related socio-economic conditions—including the city’s urban planning decisions, tight rent control, the poverty of the local populace, the construction of freeway roads and rail road lines that bypass—or run through—the area, depopulation by sub urbanization of peripheral lands, real estate neighborhood redlining, and immigration restrictions.


Urban decay occurs when a part of a city falls into disrepair and abandonment. Characteristics of urban decay include high unemployment rates, high crime rates, depopulation, desolate-looking landscapes, abandonment of buildings and split families. Urban decay does not have one single cause, but rather a combination of many, including poor urban planning, redlining, poverty, suburbanization and racial discrimination. It is worth noting that the negative impact of slum and Urban decay are same and alike because slum is usually the resultant of Urban decay and the following leads to Urban decay:

Poor Urban Planning

Urban planning involves planning for land use and transportation. A city could propose to use land in poor ways so as to accelerate the urban decay. For example, when a major employer in the city decides to move outside the city, the city would experience high rates of population decline because people would move with the employer. A city could have made the company stay by offering more appealing offers, but instead, the moving of the company leaves more land unused and buildings abandoned.


Redlining occurs when services–such as banking, insurance and access to jobs and healthcare–are denied to certain races or classes of people through increasing the costs. The term was coined in the late 1960s to refer to targeting of certain areas of Chicago where banks would not invest due to racial discrimination. As a result, those areas would remain underdeveloped, as no one was willing or able to invest there. The lack of investment increases the levels of unemployment and poverty, which in turn contributes more to urban decay.


Poverty contributes to urban decay by helping to reinforce the shoddy and desolate urban landscape. High levels of poverty contribute directly to higher drug and street gang activities. Both are causes for suburbanization, as the middle class feel more and more unsafe living in the city. The drug and gang activities often increase the level of crime, which contributes to urban decay. As the level of crime increases, the property value of buildings in this area decreases, leading to higher levels of building disrepair and eventual abandonment.


Suburbanization helps further urban decay by removing people who are better off economically, leaving the area to those who are usually poorer, which contributes to higher unemployment rates, a characteristic of urban decay. Historically in the United States, the white middle class gradually left the cities for suburban areas because of the perceived higher crime rates and danger caused by African-American migration north toward cities after World War I—the so-called “white flight” phenomenon.

Racial Discrimination

Racial discrimination contributes to urban decay by providing for higher rates of unemployment. African-Americans were most likely to be declined jobs and loans, both of which would help their economic status as well as the health of their neighborhoods. Discrimination, thus, promotes unemployment, which in turn promotes poverty, street gangs and illegal drug-trafficking activities and other crimes. Discrimination stifles opportunities which would normally be available to certain races and in turn stifles the growth of a city by promoting urban decay.


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