Slum dwellers fight for their rights

Jun 7, 2013

Bay of All Saints, directed by Annie Eastman, was shown yesterday at the Millenium  MDGs documentary film festival.

The film takes us to the heart of the Palafitas in Bahia (Brazil), a network of shacks built on stilts over a sea of water and garbage where impoverished families have lived for years. The film depicts the daily struggle many slum dwellers face in telling the story of three single mothers.  Exposed to unhealthy living conditions, the palafiteiros are also vulnerable to the uncertainty of a possible eviction and loss of their possessions.

Although the number of slum dwellers continues to grow with the rising pace of urbanization, the amount of urban slum residents in the developing world has declined from 39 per cent in 2000 to 33 per cent in 2012 (MDG Report 2012). There are reasons to be optimistic. In fact, the MDG target to significantly improve the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers has been reached well ahead the set deadline of 2020.  More than 200 million people gained access to better water sources, improved sanitation and less crowded housing. 

The film is a story of poverty and hardship but also one of dignity and the fight for the right to decent housing and better lives. It is a call for more responsive and accountable government authorities that listen to citizens’ voices and understands and acts on the expectations of civil society at large.

UNDP and EU work together to accelerate progress towards poverty reduction worldwide and to build institutions that are more responsive to the citizens needs through local governance initiatives. In Bangladesh, UNDP, EU and other partners have transformed the way communities engage with their local government institutions encouraging more and more people to take part in crucial decisions that affect their lives. Read more stories on local governance programmes here.