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New towns going up in developing nations pose major risk to the poor
Date:4/10/2014

of 300,000, Salt Lake is an affluent city, home to many of Kolkata's elite. It sits in an area of frequent flooding but drainage systems, underground sewers and elevated pumping stations mean it rarely suffers from natural disasters, said Rumbach who lived in Salt Lake during his study.

But two major slums Dattabad and Kestopur - border the city and are home to many of construction workers, domestic help, food vendors and others who work in Salt Lake.

Rumbach interviewed 598 workers. The majority lived in slums and was employed in Salt Lake.

He found that most lived in cramped or crowded conditions which help spread diseases like influenza, cholera and tuberculosis, especially worrisome following heavy rain and floods. Houses were mostly made of concrete and brick with occasional cheap tile roofs. Electricity was sporadic and scarce. More than 80 percent of households in Dattabad and 100 percent of households in other settlements relied on toilets outside their homes, shared by dozens and sometimes hundreds of households.

"During flood events, open drains quickly overflow, contaminating nearby homes and open spaces with gray water and human waste," Rumbach said.

While the designers of Salt Lake anticipated the flood risks, they and planners of other new towns did not anticipate the thousands of low-income workers who would move to the area to work in the city.

"These workers are excluded from working in the township itselfso the increased hazard exposure associated with the low-lying terrain dramatically increases their risk to natural hazards," the study said. "Salt Lake's informal labor force is adversely affected by even routine hazards like monsoon rains. When a major cyclone strikes, as they do every century or so, the impact on these communities will likely be catastrophic."

Ultimately, Rumbach said, urban planners worldwide must anticipate the needs of low-income workers.

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Contact: david kelly
david.kelly@ucdenver.edu
303-503-7990
University of Colorado Denver
Source:Eurekalert

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