8 junio, 2024

Misery belts: what they are, characteristics, causes, examples

What are the misery belts?

The misery belts They are the urban settlements of a very low-income population. These are known by various names depending on the country; some names are slum, slum, favela, or ghetto.

These irregular settlements may have been generated by multiple causes, although in most cases their main trigger is the peasant exodus.

A shantytown is characterized by having a population with very few economic resources, which leads to several consequences, such as lack of access to basic services (drinking water, gas, electricity), unsanitary conditions, and marginal location by the society.

Misery Belt Characteristics

They are basically produced by the rural exodus to the cities, in search of better life possibilities, more work and access to studies.
As they do not have enough resources, they tend to settle on the outskirts of urban centers, surrounding them (hence the name «belt»). They are usually vacant land that these groups invade to illegally build homes, generally precarious.
Being illegal, these lands do not have police surveillance, so criminal activities increase.
As the land where they build is not urbanized, they do not have access to basic services, such as water, electricity, gas, aqueduct systems, etc.

relevant data

Currently, between 15 and 20% of the world’s population (more than one billion) lives in an area considered marginal, in conditions of questionable health, without access to many essential resources.
It is estimated that in the following 20 years this percentage will double, further highlighting the differences between social classes.
In some countries, such as Brazil, you can see the difference between the standard of living in the shantytowns with respect to the higher social classes. In Rio de Janeiro, one of the most touristic cities in the world, poor settlements, called “favelas”, are just meters from luxury hotels and condominiums. It is common for these properties to be separated from the favelas by concrete walls.
But the same thing happens in many Latin American countries, with more or less seriousness.

Causes of the belts of misery

The first shantytowns arose due to social inequality. Driven to pursue better life opportunities, the poorest inhabitants rushed to the cities, settling around them.

Different factors are responsible for the appearance of shantytowns today, but in general, the lack of economic resources (sometimes the result of government negligence) and excess population in urban areas are the main reasons.

Other causes are:

Population growth.
peasant exodus.

Consequences of the belts of misery

The main consequences are the deprivation of hundreds of millions of people of decent living conditions, basic services, education and, in general, quality of life. Other notable consequences are:

Social margination.
Proliferation of criminal activities.
Death and diseases (due to lack of access to health services).

Examples of shantytowns in Mexico

In this country, the shantytowns are called lost cities, areas of irregular settlements that arise between one neighborhood and another (between one neighborhood and another). Mexico City is the most important city, the most populated and with the most lost cities in all of Mexico.

La Cuesta, in the Metropolitan Zone of the Valley of Mexico. Ciudad Neza, in the state of Mexico. Lost city of Xochimilco, in Mexico City. Lost city of Milpa Alta, in Mexico City. Lost city of Tlalpan, in Mexico City.


Victor Velasquez. The rural exodus and the poverty belts. Recovered from monografias.com.
Causes and Effects of Poverty. Retrieved from Cliffs Notes.

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