Urban Fold

Are Slums "Cohesive, Sustainable" and "Here to Stay?"

Paul Mason takes a tour of Manila's 10-year-old Estero de San Miguel slum to test the theory that slums have upsides and finds that understanding the question's realities is as important as trying to find the answer.

Mason goes back and forth, recognizing the pros and cons of slums.

"I can see the social cohesion bit, but as for green, well, (my nostrils flare at the river smell)."

"Then, over a beer with ex-Father Dennis, discussing our mutual experiences with the Salesians and the Jesuits, I discovered what one billion people on the planet have discovered - slums are not so bad.

"They have changed from the Dickensian hell holes of our imagination. Through education and communications technology people are making life bearable for themselves - and of course providing the modern mega-city with an indispensable workforce of cheap labour."

Full Story: Do we have to learn to live with slums?

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