The Superblocks Of Caracas, Venezuela Essay, Research Paper
The ‘Ranchos’ of Caracas are areas towards the edge of the city, mainly located about the periferia where generally people congregate in low-quality shanty towns. Through Government aid, this area is still undergoing improvement. 2) There are many problems associated with the rapid growth of the ranchos of Caracas. Rapid urbanization causes an increase of the proportion if population that live in cities. The large numbers of people are attracted from surrounding rural areas by the prosperity and economic opportunities. The truth is, that when they arrive, they are met with high rent rates further in to the city, scarcity of jobs and a lower than perceived level of education. People build very basic housing as they cannot afford a proper house. The shanty towns are unplanned and built using scrap materials like wood, boards and sheet metal. They are also built on unsuitable, bad ground such as derelict sites, near rubbish tips or on unstable hillsides. The shacks are usually only of one room. This is due to the lack of availability of decent land in this area of the city. Hillside shanty-towns like the one shown in the picture are usually very unsafe as the trees that help bind the soil and rock together are being stripped down to make way for more shacks, and for use as fuel or building material. The lack of money in these ranchos, and the lack of government funding for such a number of people in this condition cause the quality of life to be significantly lower than further in the city. A single water tap may be used by 50 people on a street. Basic amenities such as running water, electricity, sewerage, transport, waste disposal and sanitation – things that we take for granted – are severely lacking. This then leads to severe health problems such as uncontrolled but localised outbreaks of water-bourne diseases such as dysentery, cholera and typhoid spread by the open-sewers. There are more problems, like the surge in crime rate; people turning to crime to fund basic family life. The city’s government also try to clear away many of these settlements so they don’t take a foothold on the city’s land, but this is usually fruitless. There are more and more people in the ranchos working in the informal sector which are not long-term jobs; often involving only a couple of hours work per week and don’t bring a great deal of money in to a family. Development of the ranchos by housing a greater amount of people in a smaller area whilst providing family’s basic amenities would raise the quality of life for these people in the ranchos. People would also have better access to shops, clothing, food and jobs which earn a higher wage and would be able to sustain a family. Better standards in health would be brought about and a reduction with a reduction in disease. People would have better access to services such as transport, education and health whilst getting treated better by other residents and by the government. Development is a must as there is now a higher proportion of people living in cities than in rural areas. 3) Improvements in the ranchos of Caracas came about through government organisation and funding. Areas of the ranchos were cleared away closer to the city and were replaced by 15 storey high tower blocks known as ‘Superblocks’. Each one contained around 150-450 apartments of two or three rooms each. Amenities such as electricity, water and sewerage were provided and took up a lot less space than the ranchos. This kind of development is flexible as it can be planned and built in stages which is good financially. It also gives the residents a sense of ownership and can create a feeling of community spirit. Though these changes for the better came about, a lot of the new residents found that the rent was too high and as many were unskilled, couldn’t find jobs to fund the rates. Because of this, many residents turned to sub-letting out one or two of their rooms to other families; though highly illegal, this was still an extra source of income. This lead to extreme overcrowding and unhappiness with many residents. The living conditions though better, soon deteriorated through lack of maintenance and bad, cheap construction. The noise levels were high and the surrounding environment was affected by the influx of crime mainly by the younger generations, to fund families who’s money is spent on the rent or traveling to work each day; thus causing an unhappy atmosphere. Many different people were affected by these buildings. The existing residents were upset by the crime and surge of population there. Those who had a few skills that could be applied in jobs usually progressed in living conditions, but progressing in jobs was much harder. For those who were unemployed, there was little to do, many found work back in the informal sector and some used crime. Children had the opportunity of proper education for probably the first time, yet the overcrowding and overpopulation meant that some could not take advantage of it. There was a much bigger mix of socio-economic groups around the areas of the Superblocks which caused upset and an increased competition for jobs and services, resources which were already stretched. The richer began to move out of these areas and were succeeded by those of the lower classes, usually expansion of the Superblocks. One major downfall of the Superblocks scheme was that there can never be enough to satisfy the number of people coming from rural areas to live in the ranchos. The blocks cannot be build fast enough to supply the demand, as the ranchos will (until a better scheme is drawn up) always be present.