Topic: 2023-Informal Settlements
Delegate Name: Ethan Robine
Topic: Informal Housing
As the world continues to develop, naturally, the pattern of urbanization has followed suit. The boom of the industrial revolution ushered in an era of exponential growth. The world saw a dramatic increase in population, production, and of course, urbanization. However this increasingly rapid migration from rural to urban has not been met with equally responsive housing availability. The development of legitimate settlements is an arduous process, requiring government approval, adherence to safety regulations, and substantial funding. These barriers significantly slow down the rate at which housing can be made available, thus to meet demand throughout the world people have constructed informal settlements, bypassing these legitimate steps in the building process. These informal settlements are defined by their lack of legal ownership, lack of infrastructure access, and a lack of compliance with construction safety standards. It is clear to see how these settlements are unsafe, unsanitary, and their very existence is unorganized and unregulated. These informal settlements, often known as ‘slums’, are a major issue as they are directly impeding the development of our world in a safe and sustainable manner.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has first hand dealt with informal settlements, home to ‘Petare’, the largest slum in all of South America. Slums within Venezuela, known as ‘barrios’, are ripe with crime, violence, and poverty. The vast majority of the Venezuelan population lives within urban areas (88.38%), and a large portion of these individuals reside in informal settlements. Venezuela is unique in that compared to most other nations, it has not seen a substantial increase in urban populations, this is partially due to wide scale emigration out of Venezuela. With over seven million people leaving the nation since 2015. In 2023 around 28.84 million people inhabit Venezuela, in 2010 this value was an estimated 28.72 million. The nation has gone through periods of population growth and shrinking leaving it relatively unchanged over the past decade. Slums throughout the world are generally known for rapid population growth however the barrios of Venezuela are unique in that they typically see much less growth in terms of population. As a result, The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela finds it much more imperative to look into the upgrading of existing slums and the construction of new alternative housing, rather than focusing on reducing the expansion of informal settlements.
Many of the Barrios within Venezuela are constructed haphazardly on the side of steep slopes, thus they are at risk of environmental dangers. The climate of Venezuela only exacerbates this issue, being subject to frequent earthquakes and a several month long rain season, putting a lot of stress on structures, including informal housing constructed without adherence to safety regulations. An instance in 1999, known as the Vargas tragedy in which heavy rains led to a mudslide that killed tens of thousands and displaced tens of thousands more. Additionally in the capital city of Caracas an infamous forty five story unfinished building, known as the ‘Tower of David’, amidst a housing crisis became home to hundreds of families as it was converted into a large vertical slum. It has since been evaluated and has experienced extensive damage as a result of earthquakes. Venezuela acknowledges the lack of adherence to safe planning and construction as a core factor in events responsible for massive loss of life. Thus the nation finds it imperative that going forward new housing is constructed in a manner that will lead to a substantial risk of environmental disaster.
As a nation Venezuela already contains a vast array of informal settlements and thus wishes to focus on how to bring about the conversion of slums into more adequate housing, while also balancing the construction of new housing. In the capital city the Caracas Slum Upgrading Project works to bring about new vital infrastructure, such as electricity, sewers, and vehicular access to those in existing barrios, who do not have them. Additionally the Venezuelan government has implemented programs such as the GMVV (Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela), which aims to bring about the construction of five million new homes by the end of 2024, and currently reports having built over 4.7 million. The expansion of these programs, and similar groups, is vital in helping to bring about stability and safety to those currently residing in informal settlements. Venezuela recommends that nations throughout the world adopt programs similar to that which Venezuela already utilizes domestically, in order to help to solve the issues informal housing presents.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela knows firsthand the dangers of informal settlements, given the nation’s detailed history with slums and their unsafe and unhealthy nature. As the world continues to develop it should do so in a manner that is safe and sustainable, thus it is imperative that we aim to move away from informal housing instead working to build a successful future. Challenges to overcoming informal housing, such as economic barriers and dealing with violent parties who rule over such settlements, are both issues prevalent within Venezuela. However, as proper housing is implemented, greater access to resources necessary for the prosperity of life, will likely see a decrease in issues such as violence and poverty. The complexity of this issue cannot be understated, and we must acknowledge that no two nations’ circumstances are the same. It is the hope of Venezuela that we can work together to bring about a solution to the issues that arise as a result of informal settlements, together we can usher in a more sustainable and safe future.
“Venezuela – Caracas Slum-Upgrading Project.” World Bank, documents.worldbank.org/en/publication/documents-reports/documentdetail/280721468779128231/venezuela-caracas-slum-upgrading-project. Accessed 21 Nov. 2023.
“Ministerio Del Poder Popular Para El Hábitat y Vivienda.” Ministerio Del Poder Popular Para El Hbitat y Vivienda, www.minhvi.gob.ve/. Accessed 21 Nov. 2023.
JF, teleSUR/. “Venezuelan Government Has Built 4.2 Million Homes So Far.” News | teleSUR English, teleSUR, 28 Oct. 2022, www.telesurenglish.net/news/Venezuelan-Government-Has-Built-4.2-Million-Homes-So-Far-20221028-0002.html. Accessed 21 Nov. 2023.
Dio, Elena Di. “Large Movements – Petare, Venezuela: The Most Violent Slum in the World.” Migrazioni on the Road, 2021, migrazioniontheroad.largemovements.it/petare-venezuela-slum/#:~:text=Dulce%20Nombre%20de%20Jes%C3%BAs%20de,in%20all%20of%20Latin%20America. Accessed 21 Nov. 2023.