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Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

In Kenya, Using Tech To Put An 'Invisible' Slum On The Map

In Kenya, Using Tech To Put An 'Invisible' Slum On The Map | Geography 200 |
A billion people worldwide live in slums, largely invisible to city services and governments — but not to satellites.

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

Slums and squatter settlements are a problem that a lot of the developing world has to deal with.  The unsafe and unsanitary buildings cause headaches and problems for the leaders of the cities they surround.  This story is hopeful in that the city did manage to bring a water line out to get clean water to the people living in this area.  Perhaps this will lead to a better quality of life of the inhabitants of this particular slum.  Also the project of mapping such areas can be a useful tool for city planners to better regulate these areas and help the people that live there.,

Lauren Jacquez's curator insight, July 25, 2013 7:47 PM

Slums also known as favelas, squatter settlements

John Blunnie's curator insight, July 28, 2013 1:11 PM

Great how tech and globalization can help represed people in other countries.

Meagan Harpin's curator insight, October 6, 2013 5:07 PM

The slum-mapping movement began in India almost a decade ago and migrated to africa, the idea of this is to make slums a reality to people who have never set foot in one before. The maps can be used in court to stop evictions or simply to raise awarance. I think this idea is on the right track of what needs to be done. These people need help and so many people incuding the governement pretend they arent their but with these maps as proof they can no longer do that.    

Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

LANDFILL HARMONIC: Inspiring dreams one note at a time!

A heartfelt & moving story of how instruments made from recycled trash bring hope to children whose future is otherwise spiritless.

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This video was very moving.  I was surprised how the recycled instruments sounded exactly like the real things.  I think this should make us think about how much of the trash we generate could be put to some use besides rotting in a landfill.  It also shows the ingenuity of people to find a use for a resource even if that resource is trash.  It just goes to show that the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure,” is true.

Lauren Stahowiak's curator insight, February 8, 2014 6:38 PM

One mans' trash is another mans treasure. The typical stereotypes of slums are that they are dirty, poor and lifeless. However, the people in this slum have so much more to offer. Searching through the trash, they are able to piece together junk into recycled instruments that they use to liven the slums, their lives and the world. Music is a way to brighten their today and look forward to brighter tomorrows. 

Nicole Kearsch's curator insight, October 14, 2014 12:11 PM

This is really cool.  You would think that people living on a pile of trash would be really miserable and have a negative outlook on life, which in a way these kids probably do.  However they have found a way to bring joy to their lives and bring them closer together.  Going through the trash they are sometimes lucky enough to find actual instruments that have been thrown away, but more times than others only find pieces they can use.  Taking the pieces of trash that they find and turning them into instruments to make music is the highlight of most of these kids day.  They go to show that they can live in the worst of the worst but that doesn't mean that that will stop them from becoming something in life.

Alec Castagno's curator insight, December 5, 2014 10:59 AM

It is fascinating to see how a community living in very poor conditions have found a way to make their society and culture flourish. Where most residents make a living sorting through garbage, they have found a way to use that same trash to create instruments and an orchestra, adding rich culture to their community and giving the youth opportunities they would not have otherwise. It shows that while a community may live in less than ideal conditions, it is still possible to have a thriving culture.

Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

Unusual ways to avoid Jakarta's traffic

Unusual ways to avoid Jakarta's traffic | Geography 200 |
Jakarta's traffic is legendary and locals have now become experts at finding ways to get around the jams, with some even making money out of them.


The population of Indonesia is heavily concentrated on the island of Java, and the capital city of Jakarta faces a tremendous strain on it's transportation network.  This video show that resourceful people will find inventive ways to make an unworkable situation manageable. 

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This video was interesting.  It shows that with increased urbanization come the problem of increased traffic congestion.  Government that are growing need to be aware of this and build their cities accordingly to have transportation that can accommodate all the people swelling the city.

Jacob Crowell's curator insight, December 15, 2014 2:35 PM

The amount of traffic in Jakarta is staggering and the traffic itself has built up a business of making commuting to work easier. What is troubling is that the government hasn't made enough of an effort to fix the problem of traffic in its largest and most economically viable city. If Jakarta wants to keep growing the government has to step in and find a way to make getting to work realistic for Indonesians.

Hector Alonzo's curator insight, December 15, 2014 9:38 PM

The traffic in Jakarta is insane, to be in a constant standstill on your way to work is unreal. The reporter in the video says that if the city of Jakarta continues on its current path, it could be "in a state of Paralysis" which for an entire city is not good. The traffic has, for some, become a way to make money, illegally but money nonetheless.

Kendra King's curator insight, April 13, 9:01 PM

Humans instinctively look to profit when the situation arises, this is one of those situations. The government implemented regulations that barely seem to manage the traffic jams, i.e. having 3 people per car. Since people do have to work and may not always be able to meet the requirements, others have started making a living as a “jockey,” an individual who offers to ride in a car so the 3 people limit is met. Doing this is considered illegal. Yet, there aren’t good enough jobs for people to work (otherwise they won’t be a jockey) and those who do work can’t seem to always follow the rule without it harming there work life.  Plus, more police now turn their attention towards these people thereby deterring them away from their other duties. I realize that the state probably never intended these consequences to happen, but now that it is I really wonder just how useful this law really is. One thing is certain though, without better planning or economic innovation by the government, the jams will continue to happen.


I find it odd that the people keep staying despite the major traffic problem. As one interviewee mentioned. I guess as long as you can find ways to stay productive and still receive enough compensation, the time spend in traffic isn't enough of a hassle for them. As someone who has enough economic opportunity with far less wait time in traffic though, I would find this situation unbearable. Clearly, this isn't that case though. So, I am not sure of the immediate solution. As we learned in class, the government tried transmigration. This just lead to more problems. It was then suggested that the type of opportunity. If that is the case though, what should the government do now? Waiting for a more natural economic opportunity to get the people out of Jakarta won't happen quick enough to curb the increasing population growth. Therefore the strain on the infrastructure will continue because the population's carrying capacity is exceeded. Whatever the answers, I think this would be a great case study for urban planning and the impact raising car dependency has on a society as this driving nightmare shows just how important planning is with more cars. 

Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

The Rights and Wrongs of Slum Tourism

The Rights and Wrongs of Slum Tourism | Geography 200 |
Researchers are heading to Dharavi, Mumbai, to study the impact of slum tours on the residents.

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

This article rises in interesting question.  Are tours of slums exploitive or beneficial to the slum dwellers?  On the one hand the tours could feel like exploitation and the tourist is viewing attractions at a “zoo”, on the other hand it brings people far removed from slum life in contact with it and can change people’s point of view on the slums.  It can be beneficial if the tour guides donate money to the slums or jobs are sought by slum dwellers to become tour guides.  The question is should slums be hidden away from view or opened up to tourists so that they can see the hardships first hand.  I think that this is an issue that is not clearly black or white; there are many shades of gray involved in this issue.

Serge Dielens * Soci(et)al Marketing Communication expert @ *'s comment, May 7, 2013 2:55 PM
Visiter des bidonvilles, nouveau trend pour touristes en mal de nouveauté? Je me souviens avoir personnellement visité SOWETO en 2000, avec un groupe de journalistes belges. Nous avons logé chez une dame qui cédait une partie de sa maison pour se faire un peu d'argent, pour contribuer aux frais de ses deux fils étudiants à l'Unif. Ce fut une expérience inoubliable. Nous n'avons pas entendu le son de sa voix, elle nous servait à manger en silence et même si nous ne savions pas très bien comment réagir, nous avions l'impression que nous lui venions en aide, d'une manière ou d'une autre. En tous cas, la visite de ce bidonville fut pour moi éclairante.
Ana Cristina Gil's curator insight, November 6, 2013 8:36 PM

I don’t find nothing right about tourist visiting the slum, I feel that the tourist are violating there privacy. They are human being not some historical landmark. If the tourist are not helping this people why are they going? If you are going to visit this places do it because you want to help them, not because you think is interesting their way of living.

Cam E's curator insight, April 1, 2014 11:57 AM

Moral questions are always fun. Personally I don't think going to see slums is all that exploitative in itself, but I would make a distinction between guided tours that cost money, and self-directed tours though. In a guided tour you are paying money to walk through a community and view what life is like for those people, but in a self-directed tour you are just another person walking down the streets and viewing whatever you stumble upon. There are plenty of tours within neighborhoods of different economic value the world over, but these tours are scrutinized because the people touring are as wealthy, or less wealthy, than the people living there. I don't think that a poor community changes this dynamic in an immoral way, as the perceptions of which group is superior come from the own minds of those who feel uncomfortable with it.


Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

Protest over Haiti slum eviction

Protest over Haiti slum eviction | Geography 200 |
Residents of hillside shanties above the Haitian capital Port-au-Prince protest against plans to clear their homes for a flood-protection project.


Even before the earthquake, Port-au-Prince was a city filled with slums.  The earthquake exacerbated so many of the urban, economic and environmental issues.  This eviction of the flood plains has class implications as the poor feel that they are being unfairly targeted in plans to improve the city. 

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

It is hard to relate to this type of article in America.  Unlike third world countries, we do not allow this type of building to occur, but perhaps mobile homes in tornado alley might be a comparison.  The safety of the people in environmental disaster areas must be weighed against the ability of them to afford a home.  How to strike this balance is important and political.  Are their homes being unfairly targeted or are the better built homes simply safer and so they do not need to be moved?  This article is important because it outlines the problems in Haiti and other third world countries that don’t have strict building codes and shanty towns spring up.

Felix Ramos Jr.'s curator insight, February 10, 12:21 PM

This is a tough situation.  On one hand, you have the government who is trying to rectify an issue of flooding and also trying to protect people against an inevitable landslide.  Then on the other hand, are those people who unfortunately will have, essentially, their whole history and memories along with those of their ancestors wiped off the face of the earth.  It is easy to sympathize with both sides here.  You just hope both sides could come to a common ground.

Chris Costa's curator insight, September 23, 2:08 PM

Geography and geographical events plays a great role in shaping the course of human civilization, and the 2010 Haitian earthquake is no exception. The devastation that occurred as a result of the earthquake has had severe political and economic consequences for the Haitian people and government, in part because the nation is the poorest in the Western Hemisphere. Despite Western aid, thousands of people have yet to relocate so safer areas or find new homes. This example of the dismantling of slums is a sad story, where the government refuses to allow citizens to live there, but cannot offer them somewhere to go. Despite the government citing safety concerns for the dissolution of the slums, many poor citizens feel that it is a gentrification plan and that they are being unfairly targeted- it would be interesting to see if richer Haitians are allowed to remain in similar areas, which would totally undermine the "safety" argument held by the government. Thousands of Haitians again find themselves homeless, adding to a legacy of devastation and human suffering left by the 2010 earthquake. Geography: 1, Humanity: 0.

Tanya Townsend's curator insight, October 12, 11:16 PM

While I can understand why the government feels the need to assert this project, the talk about the poor always being targeted struck a cord. The government hasn't been able too supply stable housing as it is for the recently displaced Haitians so why would these people believe that they would replace their homes? In one of my recent scoop its Mexico talked of lessons that need to be followed and one of them was " lesson the corrosive affects of a general lack of trust". I would have to say that Haiti could benefit from working on this.

Rescooped by Elizabeth Bitgood from Geography Education!

In Venezuela Housing Crisis, Squatters Find 45-Story Walkup

In Venezuela Housing Crisis, Squatters Find 45-Story Walkup | Geography 200 |
An unfinished skyscraper occupied by squatters is a symbol of Venezuela’s financial crisis in the 1990s, state control of the economy and a housing shortage.


This skyscraper that was once a symbol of wealth, in an incredible paradigm shift, has now become is occupied by squatters. The lack of a vibrant formal economy and more formal housing leads to a lack of suitable options for many urban residents--especially with problems in the rural countryside. A complex web of geographic factors needs to be explained to understand this most fascinating situation. The video link "Squatters on the Skyline" embedded in the article is a must see.

Via Seth Dixon
Elizabeth Bitgood's insight:

The problems in Venezuela with housing and the lack of response to the problem by the government has led people to become squatters.  The using of the abandoned buildings was a good idea by the original squatters.  The vacant buildings can house many of the countries it is a shame that the government did not think of this solution to the housing problem and vacant building first, if they had, they could have made sure they were safer for the residence.  The idea of a vertical city springing up in this building is also an interesting one.  Not only are squatters living in these buildings but creating businesses and other services for the residence.

Erica Tommarello's curator insight, December 4, 2013 9:13 PM

Venezuela clearly can not take care of its people as the Tower of David is occupied by squatters in the middle of the city. The abandonment of construction of this tower openly symbolizes the financial and social crisises that Venenzuelans are enduring. The squatters do not want to live in the rural areas that boasts open lands. They insist that living in an essentially wall-less and water-less unfinished sky scraper is better then the rural areas and the street.

Maegan Connor's curator insight, December 17, 2013 5:34 PM

The video we watched of the squatters living in an unfinished skyscraper was unlike anything I've ever seen before. In a country with such high population rates and a housing shortage, people have gotten creative and made homes in this 45 story building where they share what would have been office spaces and bathrooms.  Over 2,500 people have moved into the dilapidated skyscraper and made a home out of it for their families. They have rigged electricity that the government does not provide for them and built small stores on almost every floor.  The people have not been evicted because the government of Venezuela knows of the housing shortages, yet does not fix it.  

I feel ashamed that a country with so many oil resources has such high rates of poverty and no one is fixing it.  It shows the corruption in the government through an extreme although innovative example.

Jess Deady's curator insight, February 18, 2014 1:02 PM

In life, I constantly find myself comparing situations with what I read and what I know. Imagine this skyscraper is the Prudential in Boston. How could something meant to be so great fall to its death (and to peoples literal deaths)? One day there is a massive financial building occupied with bankers and lavishness. The next day there is a skyscraper in the form of a house. Housing shortages are happening everywhere and Venezuela is being hit hard in this situation. Imagine visiting this country and asking where someone lives? "Oh, I live in the Tower of David, which used to mean a whole lot more."