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Sustainability in Slums Report


Sustainable development is one of the core strategies of development adopted by many countries across the world. Although this awareness has reached to that level currently, sustainability was not considered profoundly in the past.

In the past, people focused on development without considering other crucial aspects such as environmental awareness, sociology and humanity. The introduction of sustainability closed that gap by developing initiatives which integrate the three aspects.

In the modern world, governments are dedicating their efforts towards sustainable development in sectors such as real estate management, infrastructural development and health issues. In essence, they focused profoundly on real estate since it was one of the vital sectors of economic development.

However, the authorities face many challenges since the population is increasing progressively leading to high demand of rental houses.

As a result, slums have emerged in many parts of the world posing social and environmental threats. In fact, slums have affected many countries such as the UK, the USA, India, China and most countries in Africa.

This shows that the emergence of slums should be treated as a global issue demanding a sustainable approach. Therefore, this paper will focus on how the policies of sustainability could be applied to solve challenges posed by the emergence of slums.

Development of Sustainability Agenda in Real Estates

Slums contravene the ideologies of sustainable development in many ways. The life that people experience in slums is barely sustainable in consideration of aspects such as economy, health and environmental awareness.

This implies that the concerned authorities must act swiftly in order to develop the sustainability agenda in the slums. In this light, the development of this agenda should adhere to the five principles of sustainability.

Environmental Limits

The first principle states that people must live within the environmental limits. This implies that human activities must be conducted in a manner that does not contravene with environmental awareness.

For example, people use poor construction materials when they are building houses in the slums. These materials that include polythene papers, rotted iron sheets, and grass roofing destroy environmental fitness.

Polythene papers are destroyed easily leading to a fast rate of disposal that results in piling up of waste materials. In addition, since the polythene papers are unrecyclable, people opt to burn the materials in order to dispose them.

This leads to the production of green house gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and carbon monoxide which deplete the ozone layer (Amlinger & Peyr 2008).

In fact, the government of the UK has become very strict in regard to the production of green house gases because their ozone layer is threatened. These sentiments imply that the development of sustainability agenda must be conducted in line with environmental limits.

Healthy Society

The second principle of sustainable development suggests that development must focus on creating a healthy society. In other words, development cannot be realised when the society is unhealthy.

This implies that development of sustainable agenda in slums must purport good health among the residents.

This introduces the aspect of purporting development that focuses on people’s satisfaction. This development does not concentrate on building prestigious houses or infrastructure alone. Instead, it concentrates on satisfying the needs of people.

In this regard, it reduces morbidity, purports good health, and strengthens people’s relationships within their residences.

Failure to purport these aspects could prevent the realisation of development. Moreover, development should neither isolate humanity nor compromise the needs of human beings.

Sustainable Economy

The third principle states that the agenda of sustainability should support the development of sustainable economy. In a sustainable economy, economic development should neither compromise human sociology nor environmental fitness.

On the other hand, environmental awareness and human sociology should not compromise economic development.

This implies that the agents of sustainable development must balance between the two aspects so that human sociology is achieved along with economic progress (Kotchen 2006). This balance could be achieved by applying initiatives such as green economy, renewable energy and green architecture (Aarons 2007).

While developing this agenda, the agents of sustainability should focus on purporting the economy that does not compromise human sociology and environment (Seibold-Bultmann 2007).

For instance, it is hypothesised that most women in the slums get their income from immoral behaviours such as prostitution (Abuya & Onsomu 2012).

On the other hand, young men indulge in acts of crime which include stealing, killing and hijacking. The sustainability agenda must aim at eliminating these vices and introducing moral ways of earning money in order to improve human sociology.

Good Governance

The fourth principle is about the promotion of good governance (Clark 2006). According to the principle, development must incorporate good governance that considers sociology, environmental awareness and economic development (Bai 2011).

Since the government is a key player in the enactment of policies, a country without good governance can hardly develop the sustainability agenda (Bai 2011). This implies that the agents of sustainability must transform the ideologies of governance in order to curb the emergence of slums.

For instance, Kenya has invested in a modern real estate project known as the Konza City in Machakos County.

During the launch of this project, the government spokesman warned the people of Machakos about building small houses around the city because they could form the slums.

In the same light, the government has initiated a project to upgrade a famous slum called Kibera (Barcott 2000). This implies that the sustainability agenda is initiated by good governance.

Scientific Evidence

The last principle that is pertinent to sustainability agenda relates to the use of scientific approach in sustainability. It states that sustainable development should be based on strong scientific evidence (Earleywine 2002).

In this light, decisions on whether or not to implement a policy should be inspired by strong scientific evidence. This implies that decisions should not be based on myths, misdirected theories and speculations.

A detailed scientific evaluation should be conducted before introducing any policy or building any infrastructure.

This ideology is evident in the real estate sector where scientific evidence is required in order to determine the appropriateness of using some building materials.

For instance, the government of the USA conducts profound research in order to determine the appropriateness of paints supplied by foreign manufacturers.

This undertaking helps the country to avoid harmful paints that could cause health problems. In this regard, some paints have been prohibited because they contain ingredients that release bad odour in houses (Cacace & Schmid 2008).

Equally, the development of sustainability agenda in the slums should follow this principle. All the relevant policies must be consistent with scientific ideologies which purport their application.

Otherwise, policies based on mere speculation, taboos, and myths might lead to the loss of profitable opportunities.

Initiatives and Forums

In order to develop sustainability in real estate management, involved agents should create effective initiatives to mobilise people towards establishing sustainable real estates. Recently, the UN has been convening conferences on environmental sustainability, green economy and climate change.

However, very few conferences have been organised to focus on real estates. In this regard, the concerned bodies should organise conferences that focus on aspects such as green architecture, sewage disposal and sewage treatment.

These initiatives could help in mobilising people against poor real estate management. In fact, real estate is a sector that cannot be ignored if we have to realise sustainable development. Particularly, these conferences should concentrate on the emerging issues such as emergence of the slums.

In this light, the drivers of sustainability should treat the emergence of the slums as a crucial and global concern.

Emergence of slums is a threat to sociology, health, environment and economic advancement. Consequently, it is a problem for the whole world. It must be discussed and curbed globally.

Policy Initiatives

Health Policies

Health policies were stipulated to provide standard requirement for the establishment of a real estate. Also, it stipulates the procedures followed during the establishment of real estates and ensures good health.

In addition, the health policies articulate the required maintenance practices that purport good health. For instance, health policies from most countries require the real estate managers to provide sanitation facilities for the people who live in the estates.

These facilities ensuring good health include latrines, bathrooms and urinals. They ensure that people living in real estate dispose their waste materials in a healthy manner. In developed countries, these requirements are too obvious to be included in national policies.

However, critical problems are experienced in regard to the provision of basic facilities in some regions such as India and most of the African countries (Jha & Rao 2007).

The facilities are managed poorly leading to flooded bathrooms, blocked latrines and unclean urinal. The poor management of facilities leads to formation of bleeding areas for anopheles mosquitoes which cause malaria. This situation is more evident within the slums than in other place.

Due to the high number of people in the slums, the facilities are owned and used communally. One latrine is used by a large number of people.

For example, 30 people use one latrine in the Kibera slums (Schwartz 2002). This is a great threat to the health of residents (Gulis 2004).

The main problem conjoined to this policy is failure to implement it in accordance with the ideologies. In most cases, authorities neglect the full implementation of this policy.

Policies on Construction Materials

Construction materials are vital factors that should be considered while focusing on sustainability (Laquatra & Syal 2008). In this light, materials relate to sustainability owing to aspects such as cost, environmental impact and health.

The cost of obtaining some materials is very high leading to economic impacts. On the other hand, natural resources are depleted by use of some materials such as timbers (Prasad, 1994).

Other materials are harmful to the health of residents implying that they should be prohibited. Some of these harmful materials include paints and iron sheets among others. Governing authorities stipulate policies which take control of construction materials.

For example, the American government prohibited the use of indigenous trees from the Amazon forest in order to protect that ecosystem.

In other countries, the relevant authorities restricted the usage of some trees which are endangered. In the same light, some synthetic materials are prohibited to avoid poor health and environmental pollution.

For example, some paints containing harmful ingredients have been banned in the USA (Cacace & Schmid 2008). In addition, the Kenyan government has banned the usage of iron sheets to construct walls since they can cause injuries.

Sewage and Disposal Policies

Most authorities have stipulated very stringent policies concerning the disposal of waste materials coming from the real estate. It is known that waste materials are a significant source of diseases and bad odour.

As a result, the disposal of sewage cannot be ignored when focusing on sustainable real estates. An authority that aspires to attain sustainable estates cannot let sewage materials run on the surface and cause diseases.

As a result, most countries around the world have provided clear instructions concerning the disposal. In Kenya, the health officers cannot license an estate that does not have disposal hole of approximately 2000 cubic meters.

It also requires a well maintained network of sewage conveyance pipes which dispose the waste materials. The pipes should be strong enough to avoid bursting that could release the waste materials.

Policies on Provision of Technological Facilities

Modern sustainability indicators suggest that sustainable real estate should be equipped technologically.

Although this ideology might be unrealistic in the developing countries, developed countries have put advanced policies concerning the provision of facilities such as electricity, internet connection and DSTV connection.

The provision of these facilities ensures that people are connected to technology since it is growing at a very fast rate.

This is one of the upcoming aspects of sustainable development. However, the ideology is not essentially new considering the foundation of sustainable development. In this regard, sustainable development is about developing people in accordance to the world’s progress.

People must develop in accordance to their environments because the development should be directed to people’s needs. Therefore, it is unsustainable for the people to live in a world advanced technologically without having the knowledge.

As a result, the policy that purports the provision of these facilities is correlated to sustainability. However, this policy is not crucial to the basic ideologies of sustainability.

It is only fundamental to the few developed countries. This implies that the policy will become applicable to the developing countries only when they attain high economic advancement.

Occupancy Policies

Congestion of people in real estate is another aspect that could impact the sociology of people. In this regard, congestion reduces privacy that is vital to human beings. In addition, it increases competition for resources owing to insufficiency of available facilities.

As a result, the quality of these facilities reduces due to the poor usage and incapability to control the residents. The level of crime increases owing to inability of catering for basic needs.

As a result, controlling the number of occupants in a single house could be helpful in order to avoid congestion and other associated vices. As a result, governments depict policies that control occupancy so that a single room can hold a specified number of people.

Although the implementation of the policy is quite difficult, it is developed with the intentions of curbing congestion.

In places where people embrace policies willingly, it has helped them to minimise the spread of contagious diseases, control the level of crime and reduce poverty (Bressey 2008).

In Kenya, a single room is supposed to hold an average of five people. This is the recommended size of a single family in Kenya.

This number changes in accordance to the policies of the country which are guided by size of its population.

However, the respective authorities recommend the maximum number according to scientific research. This implies that obeying the policy could lead to financial, sociological, and environmental benefits.

House Spacing Policy

Spacing is another policy that determines the establishment of real estates. This policy aims at reducing congestion and competition for space. In this case, some authorities specify the number of houses that should be built in an acre of land.

This policy helps in controlling the number of people who can live in an area. In addition, it ensures that the owner do not compromise the freedom of residents in order to satisfy his/her financial needs.

The houses must be constructed in accordance with the specified spacing to create enough space for tenants. The implementation of this policy is barely evident in the slums.

Houses are built in a congested manner. People live in very small spaced houses that do not meet the needs of human life. As a result, people living cannot realise sustainability if that policy is not considered and implemented.

Problem in Real Estate Management

In most countries, the cost of rental house is very high as compared to the opportunities that the country provides to the citizens (Gallin 2004).

This cost has been increasing for the last five years in most parts of the world. For example, the rental cost has been increasing progressively for the last four years in England as shown in figure 1.

The cost trends for rental houses

Figure 1: The cost trends for rental houses.

This trend has rendered many citizens incapable of affording reputable rental houses for accommodation. As a result, they look for cheaper ways of surviving since they cannot afford good accommodation.

This leads to the emergences of the slums which pose severe threats to human sociology, environmentalism and economic development.

This trend is evident in many parts of the world including developed and developing countries. The following pictures show the existence of the slums in different parts of the world.

This shows the existence of the slums in the United Kingdom This shows the existence of the slums in the United Kingdom

Figure 2: This shows the existence of the slums in the United Kingdom.

The slums have poor housing facilities, waste material lying all over the ground and sewage components running on the surface. The houses are congested showing signs of poor interaction among people and the freedom of movement.

In the pictures, there are no signs of electricity supply in these slums implying that provision of essential facilities is impaired. The residences are completely unsustainable owing to environmental degradation and congestion of houses.

Kibera slums in Kenya Kibera slums in Kenya

Figure 3: Kibera slums in Kenya.

An image showing the slums in India An image showing the slums in India

Figure 4: An image showing the slums in India.

An image showing the condition of the slums in the USA An image showing the condition of the slums in the USA

Figure 5: An image showing the condition of the slums in the USA.

The four images show that slums exist in almost all parts of the world implying that this is a global issue. However, the condition of slums in developed countries is relatively better than the one in developing countries.

Besides, the slums portray similar characteristic such as existence of dirty water pools, flowing sewage materials and congestion of houses. The agents of sustainability should focus on the emergence of the slums due to high rental prices in order to create a sustainable economy.

Although there are other vices conjoined to the emergence of slums, they cannot be deducted from the above visual representations.

However, it is proven that slums are centres of criminal activities and poverty (Moreno 2003). Women practice prostitution in order to get food and other basic things.

These aspects contravene with the ideologies of sustainable development as defined by UNESCO (Moreno 2003). In this light, it should be understood that moral behaviours are components of sustainable development.

The question that the agent of sustainable development should answer is one that inquires into the solutions to this problem. What can we do to eliminate the threats posed by existence of the slums globally?

Solutions to Different Context

It cannot be disputed that the slums develop different problems in economic, social, and environmental contexts. In this regard, mere identification of a problem does not change the prevalent situation.

However, the identification is a first step involved in the process of solving the entire problem. What are the solutions for the identified problem?

Application of Sustainability to Health Context

One of the most crucial indicators of sustainability is a healthy society. In this light, World Health Organisation (WHO) suggested that a community is not developed sustainably in case it has not attained the basic health standard (Sclar & Garau 2005).

This implies that the community must apply strategies purporting good health. In addition, the organisation stated that a group whose rate of morbidity and mortality is higher than the average national level is not developed sustainably.

In this regard, the slums are below the average rate of morbidity and mortality in the respective countries. In order to curb poor health, various strategies could be applied.

First, the concerned authorities should ensure that the people living in slums are provided with clean water for consumption and use.

According to WHO, water holds 76 percent of all microorganisms that cause diseases (Waitzkin 2003). For example, researchers have established that dirty water is a habitat for infectious microorganisms such as amoeba and fungi.

When people consume this water, they are infected with dangerous diseases such amoebic dysentery and typhoid (Waitzkin 2003). This implies that provision of clean water for consumption could curb the spread of these diseases.

In addition, pools of dirty water are the bleeding ground for mosquitoes which cause malaria. As a result, sustainable approach suggests that the disposal of such water could help in controlling malaria (Waitzkin 2003).

While conducting these activities, it should be understood that malaria is one of the most significant threats in the tropical countries which have relatively high temperatures. This implies that the control of malaria is both an initiative and a demand.

Additionally, a collection of polythene papers and polyvinyl chloride material is another measure that purports good health. Equally, they form the bleeding ground for mosquitoes causing malaria.

In addition, some of the polyvinyl chloride materials are capable of causing injuries to the body. As a result, disposing these materials helps in controlling poor health.

Another sustainable approach towards purporting good health is the disposal and treatment of sewage. In this light, theories of sustainability state that sewage disposal and treatment are mandatory.

Furthermore, it points out that the two undertakings must be conducted in order to realise good health in real estate. This implies that the authorities cannot fulfil one of the activities and expect good health. Instead, sewage material must be disposed and treated accordingly.

Lastly, the provision of sufficient sanitation facilities in the slums is very crucial. In this light, insufficient facilities lead to the competition and mismanagement which cause blockages.

These blockages lead to contamination of water and food. In some instances, the lack of these facilities leads to severe health problems.

Application of Sustainability to Congestion

The principles of sustainability suggest that people should have the freedom to interact. It also points out that people should have their own privacy. However, the slums contravene with these requirements causing severe congestion due to the lack of enough housing and spacing.

In order to curb congestion, the involved authorities should seek to upgrade the slums. In this regard, sustainable development does not advocate for elimination of the slums.

The elimination of the slums could lead to dramatic interference with the life of the residents. In this case, changing the people’s location could lead to introduction of new environments that are strange to them. It is, therefore, prudent to upgrade the slums rather than eliminating them.

While upgrading the slums, the most important factors that should be considered include spacing, construction materials and number of people (Nizami 2008).

The authorities should follow the spacing policies completely. Each house should be given the right space. It should have a sufficient space for playground where children can interact and play. As a result, the congestion of houses will be eliminated along with people’s congestion (Nizami 2008).

If the number of people is too high to reduce, they should be relocated to other places. However, this should apply as the last option.

In regard to building materials, iron sheets are dangerous construction materials. They can cause injuries to people especially when they are used as walls.

As a result, the authorities should consider using materials that are much reputable and safe. The process of upgrading requires them to reconstruct the houses allowing re-evaluation of spacing.

Application of Sustainability to Crime and Immorality

Sustainability suggests that the surest way of solving problems is focusing on the causative agents rather than symptoms.

In the recent strategies, most governmental officials deployed many police officers in order to maintain security in the slums. However, this is a strategy that concentrates on the symptoms of insecurity and prostitution.

The true solution to the insecurity, immorality, and entire crime is improving the residents’ financial capabilities. In this regard, it is important to understand that people indulge in crime in order to get money for food and other basic needs (Sahariah & Coakley 2007).

When the government provides opportunities for these residents, they withdraw from crime to engage in constructive businesses. This will become a benefit for both the slum residents and the entire country.

Another critical measure that is pertinent to elimination of congestion is building public houses. In this case, slums emerge due to the high cost of rentals as discussed in this report. However, most of the rental houses are owned by private businessmen and merchants.

These businessmen are responsible for escalating the accommodation prices. If the government builds public houses that can be rented to people, few citizens will seek for survival in the slums. The government will easily control the prices of public houses and make them affordable.

As a result, the authorities will manage to reduce the number of the slums and congestion in the country.


It is evident that real estate management is a fundamental concern of sustainable development. The cost and insufficiency of rental houses has led to the emergence of the slums globally. These slums have posed great challenges to economic, sociological, and health spheres.

The challenges such as poverty, congestion, and diseases should be solved globally by applying sustainable approaches and strategies.

In addition, it cannot be disputed that these solutions must focus on the real problems that accompany the emergence of the slums rather than the symptoms.

Importantly, the governing authorities must concentrate on providing clean water, upgrading the slums and providing good sewage system. Lastly, the agents of development must seek the enforcement of policies purporting sustainable development.

Reflective Statement

This study has provided new knowledge on the existence of the slums in the global autonomy. It has been misconceived that the slums exist in the developing countries only.

However, it is evident that the slums exist in developed countries such as the USA and the UK. This implies that the slums have become a global issue that needs a global approach.

In addition, it has proved that the ideologies of sustainability can be applied to real estate management. However, it is evident that further studies should be conducted concerning the actual course of action that could be applied along with the involved challenges.


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