In the recent weeks, our Geography class has been studying one of our options: Urban Settlements. So far, we’ve been learning the basics (like the key terms and concepts), and in this post, I will focus on shanty housing and squatters.
Shanty settlements occur mainly in developing nations (NICs and LEDCs), and inhabitants are usually impoverished. Their houses are crude and very DIY, as they are made of plastic sheets/bags, cloth, metal scraps, and so on, and are usually found in the outskirts of a city. The paradoxical thing about shanty housing is that they are usually located right next to the rich quarter of cities, like luxury housing.
Squatters are those who occupy these shanty settlements, and do not have legal rights to the land they live on. Squatters usually build their settlements on lands that are abandoned, or in places unsuitable for living like edges of railways.
Even though Japan is an MEDC, it does have a small population who are impoverished, like people without homes. For example, when I take the Hankyu train to Umeda, I always see tarpaulin houses and tents under the Jyusou-Oohashi (a bridge built across Yodogawa, which you cross to go to Umeda). According to our definitions of shanty houses and squatters, the inhabitants under the bridge seem to be squatters living in shanty housing: they most likely do not own the land they live on, they build their houses out of crude materials, and these settlements are located near a river, right next to Umeda, a central business district of Osaka. However, since Japan is neither an NIC nor a LEDC these settlements are far smaller with fewer inhabitants compared to those in NICs and LEDCs.