Poor Sanitation in Slum Areas Effects


A slum can be defined as areas within the city where there is substandard housing, lack of land tenure, and no or inadequate provision of public utilities. The term slum may also refer to areas that were initially respectable and have deteriorated with time and thus their initial dwellers have moved to other areas with better services and better housing units. Slums are more associated with informal settlements located at the edge of the city (Sclar & Northridge, 2003).

The inhibitors of slum areas are mostly the poor who have low income and who seek housing units that suit their income. Slums are also inhibited by the recent city immigrants who have come from the rural areas to look for jobs and thus with no finances to look for better housing end up in the slums. Houses in the slum areas are characterized by earthen floors, mad walls, and iron sheet roofing. In some places, however, the houses are built of shacks and in other areas, the houses are built with stone and have a cement floor though the public utilities are not provided (Ekstrom, 2008).

Most slum areas lack clean and adequate water, electricity, good sanitation, gas, and other basic public utilities provided by the government like the waste collection. Slums are highly associated with urban decay, high rate of poverty, high rates of drug addiction, crime, alcoholism, high rates of mental illness, and suicide. Due to the high congestion of people and poor sanitation, slums are related to diseases like cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and HIV/ AIDS. Since slums have very narrow paths, and especially in developing countries, the passage of vehicles like fire trucks, ambulances, and garbage collecting tracks is impossible. This results in garbage piling in the slum areas and many deaths of the slum dweller (Keraka, 2003).

Due to the increased problems associated with slums, the governments of the World have tried to solve these problems by demolishing the old slum houses and replacing them with new modern, and better houses. These governments also go on to provide better sanitation in these areas, for an instant, in the Mumbai slum in India, the government of India have demolished a part of the slum and replaced it with better housing units for the dweller, they have also provided sewerage pipes and clean water (Keraka, 2003).

However, the newly built houses do not always welcome the old slum dwellers and this leads to the establishment of new slums in the inner city. In other countries, especially in the developed world, the governments have decided to curb rural-urban migration by putting up industries in the rural areas. This reduces the pressure on housing in the cities which causes the development of slums (Sclar & Northridge, 2003).

Definition of the Problem

Despite government efforts to eliminate slum development in the cities, slums have continued to increase both in number and size. With the increasing number of people and legal and illegal houses in the cities, the provision of public utilities including good sanitation in the cities has posed a big challenge to the city and municipal council. Heaps of uncollected garbage along the slum paths, open flowing sewage and the polluted nearby river is the order of the in the developing world cities (Sclar & Northridge, 2003).

Due to lack of toilets and sewerage lines in the slum areas, frying toilet and open flowing sewage is the site in these slums. The sewerage flows into the river and since the slum dwellers have no provision of water, the water in the river is what they use for domestic and other purposes. Poor sanitation has resulted in diseases such as cholera and typhoid in the slum areas. Other diseases associated with overcrowding for an instant, influenza, TB, and other rheumatic diseases have also affected the slum dwellers. Poor sanitation has also posed danger to the infants and children in the slum areas; it has caused poor health of these children and high infants mortality rate. This is because the infant’s contract diseases which later deteriorate their health and eventually may cause death (Sclar & Northridge, 2003).

Justification for the Choice of the Topic

Over the years, slum dwellers have been neglected by the municipal and city council in the provision of clean drinking water and sanitation facilities. Wastes from the slum area lie uncollected and sewerage flow in open drains. This has hindered the provision of improved healthcare, education, and training which can help improve the status of the slum dwellers. Due to this, the health and general well-being of slum dwellers have deteriorated with time. This has been showing in the high prevalence of cholera, dysentery, malaria, and typhoid diseases in the slum area (Keraka, 2003).

To add to this, the poor sanitation in slum areas where flooding, landslide, and other environmental hazards occur, causes pollution to the underground water, watercourses, and coastlines. The environmental implications of this may be high and diverse. The living things both plants and animals living in the watercourse and coastline may be affected highly. Thus extensive and deep research should be carried out to determine the effects of poor sanitation in slum areas (Ekstrom, 2008).

Research Design

Research design is a plan that holds the research together and it has observation, treatment, group, assignment, and time as its elements. In this research, Experimental design will be used because it allows for use of the simple random technique in selecting the samples or the units to be analyzed.

Research methods

Two research methods will be used in this research. These will include; surveys and observation. In surveys, both questionnaires and interviews will be used. The researcher will develop some questions that he will list systematically and then administered to the slum dwellers who are the respondents. The respondents will then go through the questions and then answer them. In interviews, the researcher will go with the questions to the field and ask them directly to the respondents who will give answers and he writes them down.

This method is chosen because it will give direct interaction with the slum dwellers and thus first-hand information is obtained as compared to the use of existing data that does not allow the interaction between the researcher and the victims. This method also, allows the researcher to come face to face with the problem compared to the use of existing data which even though saves time does not give the research a chance to come face to face with the problem (Keraka, 2003).

When the researcher uses observation he can have the data obtained recorded in a film or in a diagram drawn by the researcher as compared to the use of existing data where the researcher has no chance to record the information that he sees or he can not be able to represent what is actually on the ground (Ekstrom, 2008),

Data Analysis and Representation

Two ways of data analysis will be used in this research and they include; analytic Induction- this involves looking at the events on the ground and comparing them to the already formulated hypothesis. The other data analysis technique that will be used is a logical analysis where the researcher will come up with a logical representation of the information on the ground.

For the data presentation, two techniques will be used and include Qualitative and Descriptive data analysis. In qualitative data presentation, the statistical table will be used to represent the total number of population living in the slum areas as compared to that of those living in good housing projects. In descriptive representation, pie charts and bar graphs will be used. The pie chart will represent the part of city housing that is cover with various public facilities including sewer line electricity, safe drinking water, and garbage collection. The bar graphs will represent the trend of increased slums and slum dwellers (Ekstrom, 2008).

Resources that can be helpful in the researcher

The following resources can help when conducting this research; enough time, money for traveling to the slum areas, writing materials, and photographic materials for taking pictures in the field.


Ekstrom,G (2008), Slum Health. Understanding to Action. Karolinska Institut Stockholm, Sweden.

Keraka, M (2003), Child Morbidity and Mortality in Slum Environment. K.I.E. Kenya.

Sclar, E & Northridge, M (2003), Slums, Slum Dwellers and Health. American Journal of Public Health.