Population growth drives slum development (SEPT)

29 September 2001

Media Releases 2001

Sep 29, 2001 for World Habitat Day – October 1

Rapid population growth both here and in developing countries is driving the development of slums, according to Sustainable Population Australia (SPA).

The theme of this year’s World Habitat Day on 1 October is “Cities without slums”.

Vice-President of SPA, Dr John Coulter, says that while Sydney and Melbourne grow by over 50,000 each every year, land speculation and failure to keep pace in the provision of new housing is driving up prices and pushing ordinary people into sub-standard accommodation.

“The great Australian dream of home ownership has gone out the window in a generation thanks to population growth, fuelled by both natural increase and immigration,” Dr Coulter says.

“The poor and even middle income earners are forced into expensive rented houses and flats with little money or incentive to look after them.”

More than half the people in the world now live in cities. As the global population expands by another three billion, most growth will be in the cities of the developing world and most of this growth will be in the slum communities.

“This unprecedented scale of urbanisation is often poorly managed and has significant social and environmental costs,” says Dr Coulter. “Worldwide, more than one billion people live in slum quarters in the most confined spaces without adequate supplies of drinking water, electricity and sanitation facilities.

“In some cities such as Cairo and Addis Ababa, four fifths of their populations live in these appalling conditions. Food supply in cities will become more tenuous as petroleum for transport becomes more expensive later this decade. These are the conditions that cause people to become refugees.

“Australia must do much more than give 0.28% of its GDP to foreign aid and this aid must be directed to the needs of ordinary people: more sustainable agriculture, education of women, the provision of family planning services and contraception. These things will not only improve the lot of those who now suffer these desperate conditions; it will assist in solving the growing worldwide refugee problem.

“We can slow the flight from rural areas through agricultural development, but unless population growth slows dramatically the problems will only get worse,” says Dr Coulter. “Along with provision of clean water, electricity and sanitation, there must be reproductive services so people can limit family size.

“In the past, extra children in the countryside provided labour. For poor families in the city, there is no economic advantage at all in having many children. If people are to pull themselves out of poverty, they must have control over their own fertility.”

Further information:

Dr Harry Cohen, Ph(h): 08 9386 5268 Ph(mobile): 0407 426 987 E:president@population.org.au

Jenny Goldie (SPA National Director) Ph: 02 6235 5488 E: info@population.org.au


Media Releases 2001
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