Homes can be built poorly or dangerously

The threat of eviction—even if it is not carried through—creates a sense of insecurity and vulnerability. This sense of transitoriness is reflected in the choices Klong Toey residents make about how to construct housing and infrastructure. Why would residents spend what little resources they have on buildings if they might be bulldozed tomorrow? Klong Toey homes are built with the best materials residents can afford given that there is no land security. This kind of housing is often less than ideal. For example, dangerous or hazardous construction materials may be used. Asbestos is still the roof of choice in Klong Toey because of its cheap price, despite the risks known to the broader world—that asbestos has been linked to cancer.The actual land that squatter residents occupy may be vacant for good reason. For example, it may require expensive types of infrastructure and foundations before it can be deemed suitable for permanent housing. UN-Habitat estimates that ‘at least three or four in every ten non-permanent houses in developing countries are located in dangerous areas that are prone to floods, landslides and other natural disasters’.

This is the case with many Klong Toey neighbourhoods, which often flood because they are located on low-lying marsh land.  The human cost of inadequate housing construction is especially high for the most vulnerable in a slum and squatter neighbourhood. UNICEF explains that there are numerous health risks associated with poor quality housing construction and materials. Lack of fly screens exposes children to flies and mosquitoes, and porous walls and roofing harbour rodents and insect pests. Hard to clean floors increase contact with pathogens—the agents that cause disease—especially for babies and young children.For Klong Toey, being outside of formal housing neighbourhoods means that there are usually no enforced building standards, inspectors or government officials checking the quality or safety of dwellings, and so such dangers are not averted.

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