Slums continue to sprawl in Brazil
despite anti-poverty efforts
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- Brazil's urban slums -- the most visible sign
country's poverty and social ills -- continue to sprawl, despite an improving
economy and government anti-poverty programs, recent government data show.
The number of slums in Brazil has risen by nearly a quarter in the past
according to preliminary census figures published Sunday by Folha de Sao Paulo
The country's richest region, the southeast, has the largest concentration
slums. Sao Paulo state alone is home to more than 1,500 slums, up 22 percent
from 1991, Folha reported. Rio de Janeiro state follows with 811, up 15 percent
from the same year.
The northern jungle state of Para experienced the most dramatic rise in
number of slums -- 419 percent in the past nine years.
Brazil's population increased by about 16 percent during the same period
nearly 170 million.
Experts attribute the growth in slums to an ever-increasing number of people
who flock to larger cities in search of jobs and better living conditions. More
than 80 percent of Brazilians live in cities.
"No government prepared itself for that, neither economically to create
with a housing policy," sociologist Alba Zaluar was quoted as saying.
A slum is a community of more than 50 dwellings illegally occupying a land.
Most lack such basic services as sanitation and garbage collection and
controlled by drug lords, spreading chaos and fear among residents.
Last July, the government pledged to spend more than $6 billion over three
to fight poverty in the poorest states.
Yet in this country of contrasts, growth is at 4 percent , unemployment
is at its
lowest in three years and industrial expansion hit a six-year high in October.
But the gap between the rich and poor continues to be among the widest
world. The richest 10 percent of the population in Brazil accounts for 46 percent
of the country's wealth, while the poorest 50 percent of Brazilians accounts for
just 14 percent.