Between City Population, Poverty, & Good Governance

The current world population has reached 6.5 billion people. This number will continue to grow considering that every second birth 4.4 babies. According to estimates, the world population in 2050 is expected to reach 9 billion (Global Demographic Divide; Mary Kent, 2006).

Currently, almost half of the world’s population lives in urban areas. Based on the report of the Population Division of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc) (2006), until 2005, approximately 49% or 3.2 billion of the world’s population lived in urban areas. The average urban population increases annually by 3.54%. In 1950, only 29% of the world’s population lived in urban areas, in 1970 (35.9%), 1990 (43%) and in 2000 around 46.7%. Assuming an average population growth of 1.8% per year, by 2030 the world’s urban population is expected to reach 4.9 billion or approximately 60% of the world’s population.

The situation in Indonesia is not much different. In 2005, the Indonesian population living in urban areas reached 107 million or 48.1% of the entire Indonesian population. This figure is quite fantastic, considering that in 55 years almost half of Indonesia’s population will live in urban areas. In fact, in 1950 only one-eighth or approximately 12.4% of Indonesia’s population lived in urban areas.

The growth of urban population will usually be followed by the growth of dense slum areas. Based on the UN-Habitat report (the United Nations agency for population issues), the population in densely populated slum areas has experienced rapid growth over the last 15 years. In 1990, the population of densely populated slum areas in the world was approximately 715 million people. In 2000 it increased to approximately 912 million people. Until 2005, there were nearly 1 billion urban residents in the world living in dense slum areas. By 2020, UN-Habitat estimates that around 1.4 billion people in urban areas in the world will live in dense slum areas.

Dense and slum settlements are also found in cities in Indonesia. In 2001, UN-Habitat estimated that the proportion of Indonesia’s population living in densely populated slum areas was 23%, which is approximately 21 million of the total population living in urban areas. In 2005, as quoted by Antara, approximately 21.25 million people or 18% of the 120 million people in urban areas lived in dense slum areas.

On the commemoration of National Habitat Day 2006, the Ministry of Public Housing estimates that around 10 cities in Indonesia have a burden of slum settlements, namely Jakarta, Medan, Semarang, Bandung, Batam, Palembang, Makassar, Banjarmasin, Surabaya and Yogyakarta. Central Jakarta for example, 30% of its area is declared as a slum area. Meanwhile, the City of Bandung, based on a report by the World Bank (2002), in 1999, 44% of the total sub-districts were slum areas. The area of ​​dense slum areas and the number of people living in these areas will continue to increase along with the increase in urban population.

The proliferation of dense slum areas in urban areas is assessed by the World Bank and UN-Habitat as a result of the government’s inability to manage its administration. The World Bank and UN-Habitat reports confirm that the growth of dense slum areas in urban areas is triggered by wrong policies, lots of corruption, bad governance, inaccurate regulations, and the lack of political will from the government.

The trend of population growth in urban areas needs attention from all parties. There is an important thing to note; First, the trend of population growth in urban areas is feared to cause the big bang of urban poverty, namely the explosion of poverty in urban areas.

Second, it is feared that dense slum areas and poverty in urban areas will encourage crime. M. Davis’ findings from the results of his studies in various cities, especially in Latin America, which Planet of the Slum summarizes, explains that slum and squatter areas that are not managed by the government are instead organized informally by “underground” organizations, the mafia and  “organization” other crimes.