Definition of an Informal Settlement

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Informal settlements are a world-wide issue.
Informal settlements are a world-wide issue. (Image: slum area image by bayu harsa from Fotolia.com)

Informal settlements are groups of people living on land they have no legal claim to or the homes and land don't follow codes and regulations. Also referred to as a squatter settlement, slum or shanty town.

Health Risks

Living in an informal settlement can be dangerous. Drinking water is often dirty and sanitation poor, leading to insect infestation and harmful pathogens. Access to medical facilities and professionals may be limited. Children and pregnant women are especially vulnerable.

Women often don't have prenatal care in settlements.
Women often don't have prenatal care in settlements. (Image: health centre sign. access to health centre image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com)

The People

Informal settlements are found across the globe, mainly in developing countries in urban areas. These settlements are growing and an estimated 1 billion people live in slums in developing countries.

Informal settlements are found around the world, especially in developing countries.
Informal settlements are found around the world, especially in developing countries. (Image: globe image by Christopher Meder from Fotolia.com)

The Structures

The dwellings are often constructed of random found materials like reclaimed metals. They are make-shift and poorly constructed.

Houses in informal settlements don't meet zoning laws.
Houses in informal settlements don't meet zoning laws. (Image: window image by Kirill Zdorov from Fotolia.com)

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