Bill to Increase U.S. Foreign Aid to Slums Reintroduced in Congress
[14 June 2011] – Representative Brad Miller (D-North Carolina) today reintroduced the Shelter, Land, and Urban Management (SLUM) Assistance Act of 2011 to the U.S. House of Representatives to raise awareness of the importance of rapid urbanisation and slum conditions in the developing world which can pose a threat to the security and stability of developing countries, and thus to the United States.
Rep. Miller was inspired to pursue this issue by separate congressional delegation visits to the Kibera slum outside of Nairobi, Kenya. The largest slum in Africa, Kibera represents many of the challenges associated with slums and urbanisation: dilapidated and overcrowded housing, inadequate access to water and sanitation, limited electricity, poor health conditions, and increased risk of violence and instability.
“The United States was once the international leader in promoting policies and investments that improved the lives of millions of slum dwellers,” said Rep. Miller. “However, the lack of a coherent U.S. policy addressing the growing challenges of global urbanisation is undermining critical American investments in health care, education, and disaster recovery in developing countries.”
Approximately half of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas. Around 80 per cent of the world’s population growth will take place in developing countries leading to an increase in the number of slum dweller. Currently one billion people, a sixth of the world’s population, live in slums. That number is expected to double in the next 30 years.
In an address to the World Urban Forum in 2010 Secretary of State Clinton recognised the need for attention on urbanisation and shelter issues when she stated, “The challenges of urbanisation are linked to everything, from democracy and human rights, to climate change and global health.”
The SLUM Assistance Act would establish sustainable urban development and management as a major objective of U.S. foreign assistance and reinvigorate programmes that provide legal protection for tenants, basic shelter, urban services and infrastructure. For those disproportionally discriminated against, this legislation will also promote the growth of functional housing markets and support reforms that seek to enhance their rights and access to shelter.