Squatter residents face greater health risks than residents in regular urban neighbourhoods because of inadequate sanitation. More than 560 million urban dwellers do not have a basic, decent toilet facility, a characteristic challenge that leaves residents surrounded by urine and excrement. Again, built the ‘wrong-way-round’, Klong Toey started with no water or sewerage system at all, and systems only began to be built over the top of existing homes once neighbourhoods had already been established. This has massive health costs to residents.
For example, five diseases—pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria, measles and HIV/AIDS—account for more than fifty per cent of all child deaths in slums globally and ‘the chances of contracting any one or a combination of these diseases are compounded by poor living conditions and poor access to health’. Public health expert Eileen Stagnent claims that ‘every day, around the world, illnesses related to water supply, waste disposal, and garbage kill 30,000 people and constitute seventy-five per cent of the illnesses that affect humanity’. A key reason for this is the lack of basic infrastructure for sewerage and clean water. In fact, ‘the ratio of child deaths in slum areas to child deaths in non-slum areas is consistently high in all developing countries, even in countries that have made progress toward reducing child mortality overall’. The most vulnerable in Klong Toey face these life threatening conditions, to varying degrees, daily.