Walking into the settlement at Kennedy Road in Durban, what one is confronted with is the familiarity of the place. I’ve been here before. Not to this settlement, but to others like it. To bastis in India and favelas in Brazil, to Mexico’s Neza-Chalco-Izta to Bangkok’s Klong Toey.
The United Nation’s agency that monitors housing – UN Habitat – has said that there are a billion people in informal settlements (slums). A demographer at the UN tells me that within a few decades, he assumes that the number might easily double. In fact, he says, given how bad the data is, two billion people might already live in these kinds of vulnerable settlements. ‘We just don’t have the numbers,’ he said.