One out of every ten inhabitants of urban centres in Argentina is living in precarious conditions and without basic services, a new study has revealed.
The figures come from the 2015-2016 urban poverty study released this week by TECHO Argentina, an organisation covering social marginalisation and poverty in Latin America.
Entitled “Relevamiento de Asentamientos Informales” (Survey of Informal Settlements), this new study is the NGO’s second major review of urban center poverty in Argentina. It expands upon a 2013 survey, adding urban zones not previously covered. In total, 11 territories were reviewed, including the capital and major metropolitan areas in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Córdoba, Santa Fe, Salta, Tucumán, Corrientes, Chaco, Neuquén, Río Negro, and Misiones.
Officially presented to the National Congress on Tuesday, the survey reveals some startling figures.
The study registered at least 2,432 settlements, which are home to around 650,000 families.
In Argentina’s urban centers, where at least 67% of the population resides, there are almost 3m inhabitants living in informal settlements. More than half of those people live within the Province of Buenos Aires.
The study says that not only do residents lack a formal system of electric power in 73% of settlements, but 98% do not have sewage system access, and 95% are in need of running water.
Inhabitants of nearly three quarters of the settlements reviewed were vulnerable to risk factors close to their homes: 23.3% were built on the banks of a river, 16.2% had busy roads, 15.8% were by a rubbish dump, and 9.5% near high-voltage pylons.
The settlements have existed, on average, for 28 years, while almost a quarter of those surveyed have been around for more than 43 years. “We are facing a structural problem,” said Florencia Yaccarino, National Coordinator for the TECHO survey. “More than half of the settlements have been in this condition for more than a quarter of a century.”
“This report seeks to diagnose the reality of informal settlements in the territories surveyed, and to provide accurate information for the generation of public policies to address the issue,” says Marina Morgan, director of TECHO’s Center of Social Investigations.
The report states, that while there have been some improvements since 2013 regarding access to basic services, the overall picture remains grim: “Approximately 40,800 families living in 136 housing units have improved access to basic services, or obtained the title to their property. However, these improvements are scarce and insufficient.”
More encouragingly, in around seven out of every ten settlements, local residents have formed organisations to try and improve conditions and take an active role in decision-making.
The study took over two years to complete, and involved 800 surveyors.