something to think about

This one from Robert Neurwith's SquatterCities blog:

Mega Cities expert Janice Perlman makes a profound statement:

"The international funding agencies of investment institutions need to give more to urban development and less to rural development," said Perlman. "I’ve argued that the people who come to the city [and live in squatter developments] are the cream of the crop with the highest ambitions and aspirations. If given the chance, they would build middle-class communities. You can’t blame people for polluting the watershed if you don’t provide them with water infrastructure."

Perlman advocates integrating squatter developments into the surrounding neighborhoods. Rather than demolishing these self-made communities, she recommends connecting them to the city’s infrastructure by incorporating paved streets, steps, plazas and new facades as well as offering services such as clean water, sewage connections and electricity. If visually they’re more like the surrounding neighborhoods, these needy areas will be more likely to interact with the middle class nearby, she said.
Of course we've been doing piecemeal sites and services upgrading since the 70s but it's only lately that the World Bank has realized that the urban poor merit as much attention as the rural poor.

Let me repeat Perlman's thesis:

"the people who come to the city [and live in squatter developments] are the cream of the crop with the highest ambitions and aspirations."

Think about it. Think about the entrepreneurial mindset required to leave a farm and try your luck in the city. You can argue that a hand-to-mouth existence in subsistence farms gives a lot of reasons for decamping to the city. Still, it requires a lot of courage and more importantly, an ability to imagine a different future to take that leap.

I bet that leap takes as much courage as risking a future working in another country to provide a better future for your family.

Maybe we need to rethink our biases about squatters.

Image credit: Jubilee by sendusout


koikaze said...

What a wonderful insight!!!!

Strange how that point of view never occurred to me. I left the farm, but it was more to avoid the heavy work (and to be where the girls were). I always felt I could do better elsewhere, but never thought that was the reason I left. When I read that statement, I thought, "Whoops. You missed one there, Freddy".


Urbano dela Cruz said...

hey fred,

and so did you get more girls than your friends who opted to stay in the farm? hehehe.


koikaze said...

It's not in me to foully boast
Upon the board of such a host
Whose work improves the way we live
No braggart here could we forgive
Instead, I'll try a different tack
and simply say I didn't go back


Urbano dela Cruz said...




(hope you had a happy thanksgiving!)

dave (",) said...

this is something like GK.

anyway, rural living which we have branded as "unproductive" or "lazy" may simply be because there is not much incentive for hard work. or instance, if i were to produce more crops, there is still the problem of selling them. what if there is inadequate farm-to-market infrastructure or even demand itself?

Urbano dela Cruz said...


I don't know if we've labeled life on the farm as "unproductive or lazy." Who has?

Life on the farm does offer limited choices. That's the conundrum that we face - even if you make farms productive and put more money in the hands of farmers, the young people in the farms will still be looking for the opportunities that the cities offer.


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