Global Slums

The Harsh Cycle of Life in the Impoverished Communities of South Asia

Life in the slums and impoverished communities in South Asia is a challenging and generational cycle. Alcoholic husbands often provide families with limited financial resources and little guidance. Uneducated wives resort to daily labor jobs in an attempt to make ends meet. Children, as young as second grade, drop out of school to contribute to the family income. In some cases, children never have the opportunity to attend school due to their families’ inability to afford basic necessities like water, electricity, and education.

Littered Streets and Health Challenges

Slums are characterized by littered streets, where garbage is a common sight. Lack of access to clean drinking water and inadequate hygiene practices, such as hand-washing, contribute to high disease rates among slum residents. The absence of proper sanitation facilities further compounds these health challenges. Moreover, slums become breeding grounds for crimes like prostitution and sex trafficking, entrapping numerous individuals without any means of escape.[1]

Understanding Slum Types and Living Conditions

A study conducted by Anirudh Krishna, M. S. Sriram, and Purnima Prakash in South Asia examined the living conditions, livelihood strategies, and future prospects within different types of slums.[2] The study concluded that vast differences exist between slums of varying types, which are not adequately captured by the standard classifications of notified, recognized, and identified slums. In fact, the authors argue that the disparities within and between the first two types are far more significant than officially recognized. They further highlight that identified slums encompass the poorest of the poor, receiving minimal attention, time, or services.

The authors refer to the term “first-generation” to describe slums with temporary structures and residents’ initial intentions to settle temporarily. Many residents migrate from impoverished rural villages, aiming to earn income to repay debts in their hometowns. Some individuals shuttle back and forth between villages and slums periodically to fulfill these financial obligations. Others are squatters, while some pay monthly rents ranging from 200 to 400 rupees to reside in 7 x 7 tents on private property.

Challenges Faced by Slum Dwellers

The majority of residents living in temporary structures belong to scheduled castes, representing some of the poorest individuals in the rural regions of South Asia. These households are compelled to leave their native villages due to diminishing prospects. They often work as day laborers, earning an average daily wage of 300 to 400 rupees ($4.21 to $5.61), with women typically earning less than men, even when performing the same jobs.

Tens of millions of people in Asia endure the hardships of slum living, residing in cramped one-room shanties and working tirelessly for meager wages. In the absence of employment opportunities, some resort to begging, scavenging, or engaging in prostitution to make ends meet. Scarce access to toilets contributes to the pervasive stench of human waste, while garbage litters the alleyways, creating an environment ripe for disease. Through the slum ministry of GFA World, many individuals have discovered renewed hope and inner strength by embracing the transformation of Christ in their hearts. You can play a part in this life-changing work by donating towards the slum ministry and sharing the message of God’s mercy.

Learn more about global slums

[1] “A Slum Child’s Return – GFA World.” n.d. Gospel for Asia. Accessed June 7, 2023.
[2] Krishna, Anirudh, M S Sriram, and Purnima Prakash. 2014. “Slum Types and Adaptation Strategies: Identifying Policy-Relevant Differences in Bangalore.” Environment and Urbanization 26 (2): 568–85.