The United Nations has designated the first Monday in October as annual World Habitat Day. World Habitat Day 2010 was held on October 4.
Every week, more than a million people are born in, or move to, cities in the developing world. As a result, the urban population of developing countries will double from 2 billion to 4 billion in the next 30 years. By the year 2030, an additional 3 billion people, about 40 percent of the world’s population, will need access to housing. This translates into a demand for 96,150 new affordable units every day and 4,000 every hour.
The number of low-income families who lack safe and affordable housing is related to the number of children who suffer from asthma, viral infections, anemia, stunted growth and other health problems. About 21,000 children have stunted growth attributable to the lack of stable housing; 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 9 are hospitalized for asthma attacks each year because of cockroach infestation at home; and more than 180 children die each year in house fires attributable to faulty heating and electrical equipment. Housing deprivation leads to an average of 25 percent greater risk of disability or severe ill health across a person’s life span. Those who suffer housing deprivation as children are more likely to suffer ill health in adulthood, even if they live in non-deprived conditions later in life. Children who live in poor housing have lower educational attainment and a greater likelihood of being impoverished and unemployed as adults.
Capitalism’s cities, despite their apparent affluence, carry the blight of their stinking ghettos. To solve this problem in socialism would require a massive expansion of every part of production connected with housing. Given the integrated nature of modern world production, this again would have to be co-ordinated on a world scale. Who does not want to make the world a fairer, cleaner, healthier place? Many individuals and agencies are dedicated to eradicating them. Many resources are expended in pursuit of a final solution to poverty, hunger and disease. But under the present social system, capitalism, this is a labour of Sisyphus.
The Socialist Party disagrees with the supposed solution proposed by the United Nations, by various charities, by non-governmental organisations, by pontificating politicians, by genuinely concerned citizens of throwing money, or rather, trickling money at the problem.Why? Because even if the global ruling class wanted to palliate slum conditions it has so many other things to divert and engage its attention. Things such as safeguarding energy supplies, protecting profits, and brainwashing workers into continued acceptance of a social system which perpetuates the environment which condemn so many in the world to an unfair, dirty, unhealthy place. They are immersed in a system predicated on profit for profit, not need.