Let’s stand up on World Habitat Day and let it be known that affordable, adequate housing should be a priority everywhere—in our communities, in our towns, in our country, in our world.
The United Nations has designated the first Monday of each October as World Habitat Day. This year, Habitat for Humanity in USA has invited the international community from around the world in support of this global observance and come together to declare that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable.
According to the United Nations, more than 100 million people in the world today are homeless. Millions more face a severe housing problem living without adequate sanitation, with irregular or no electricity supply and without adequate security. Raising awareness and advocating for change are the first steps toward transforming systems that perpetuate the global plague of poverty housing. World Habitat Day serves as an important reminder that everyone must unite to ensure that everyone has a safe, decent place to call home.
The U.N. further states that both developed and developing countries, cities and towns are increasingly feeling the effects of climate change, resource depletion, food insecurity, population growth and economic instability. Rapid rates of urbanization cause serious negative consequences – overcrowding, poverty, slums with many poorly equipped to meet the service demands of ever growing urban populations.
Housing in Delhi
Back home in India, in the Nation’s national capital, the situation is no better. Lakhs of people are forced to live in slums and squatters in different parts of the city. There are no real regulations on land price, available housing infrastructure is inadequate and the number of houses constructed are well below what the Master Plan for Delhi envisioned.
Sewerage is lacking in many colonies. Water – a basic necessity – has to be fought and obtained in several parts. Add to that, the policies and practices by the civic authorities which are upper and middle class centric and as if to drive out the ‘poor’ after making sure they no longer afford to live here.
Slums are declared to be the reason for all the pollution in the city (and the Yamuna river) and are relocated to colonies like Bawana – which have neither a livelihood source nor any basic resources needed to survive.
What you can do on World Habitat Day?
- Inquire: Find out where your maid stays in the city? What is the condition of her house? Is she satisfied with her dwelling?
- Read: Search the Internet on housing in delhi and try to understand and analyze the situation. You will be very interested to know what is planned to be used to hide the slums during the Commonwealth
- Visit: Make a trip to a slum near to your house. Try walking through it with an open mind letting thoughts flow as questions. Yes, maybe many of those you see should not be here, but they, like anyone else, have a right to better living. Did the city give the opportunity to ensure that?
- Write: Share your experience with other, write to the newspaper editor, move your local authorities, or…leave a comment here about what you think
This World Habitat Day, lets think of how we can make inclusive cities and planning more equitable.
With inputs from Govind Singh