Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Resilience and Meaning of Life among Pakistani Slum Dwellers

Academic journal article Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology

Resilience and Meaning of Life among Pakistani Slum Dwellers

Article excerpt

A slum is defined as a crowded urban area distinguished by substandard housing, squalor, inadequate access to safe water, and sanitation including infrastructure, poor quality housing structure, overpopulation, or insecure tenure of residence. History of slums goes back to 19th and 20th centuries. Slums first appeared in 1820s, since then it is used to categorize the poorest quality/substandard housing. Slums are regarded as a refuge for many marginal activities. However, in the developing world, it lacks the derogatory connotation and refers to the informal/lower quality housing (UN-Habitat, 2007). There are different reasons for rapid growth and formulation of slums worldwide such as migration, unemployment, social conflicts, poverty, natural disasters, informal or stagnant economy, politics and poor/inadequate planning. Policy makers have always tried to decrease or change slums in many countries with varying success, including slum relocation, up gradation or removal, urban planning and some public housing projects (UN-Habitat, 2011).

Orangi Town in Karachi, Pakistan, Cape Town in South Africa, Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya, Dharavi in Mumbai, India and Neza-ChalcoItza in Mexico are the largest slums worldwide (Young, 2013). About 33% of the urban population lives in developing world and about 863 million people live in slums (UN-Habitant, 2012). A large part of the slums is in South Asia's fast-growing cities that are facing unplanned development, lack of resources and flooding (Perera, 2012). Pakistan has been ranked 141 of 182 in United Nation's Human Poverty Index (HPI). 48% of the total population of Pakistan lives in slums and is facing fast slum growth rates and lacks basic needs (Homeless International, 2013). In Pakistan slums are largely known as 'Katchi abadi' in Urdu, that means incomplete, simple, rough, illegal, temporary, or immature. Abadi means settlement or neighborhood or quarter (Asian Society Organization, 2014). Orangi Township, Karachi is the largest slum in Asia. Slums sit in the heart of the financial capital but, strategies to transform it face strong opposition. Slums are overpopulated, strings of ridged iron shacks contain the belongings of residents, young children play with stray dogs among litter and there is little sign of hygienic water/ sanitation facilities. Akhter Colony, Korangi, and Layari manifest Pakistan's most crippling problems (Mansoor, 2013).

Approximately 30% of Lahore city is covered by slums. Poor villagers, migrating in search of employment, are compelled to inhabit in slums. Slums are present particularly near posh areas like Defense Housing Authority, Johar Town, China Chowk, etc. These slums are clusters of filthy poor shanties with few orno basic facilities (Wahab et al, 2013). Berhpind is a big slum in Johar Town facing problems. They are beggars of water and pick garbage earning 2000-4000/per month. Mostly 5-7 members reside together. Seven jhomparis (huts or shacks) are allotted in one canal area and people living in it pay Rs.300/- rent per month and some of them have also taken electricity connections from the nearby houses to use their electricity on an agreement to pay half of the electricity bills (Akram, 2009).

To understand why one billion slum dwellers worldwide (UN-Habitat, 2007) still put up with their hard lives, the concepts of resilience, subjective well-being and happiness are important to understand. Kimberly and Gordon (1998) stated that many people live in poverty and high stress environmental conditions that make them vulnerable to experience violence, abuse, hunger, death, and other adversities but, they overcome this adversity and lead competent lives. These people are resilient to living in poverty and stress and share many common characteristics and protective experiences. Werner (1995) found some common characteristics in resilient people such as good social skills, autonomy, excellent reasoning abilities, an internal locus of control and an ability to elicit positive attention from others. …

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