Don’t root out slums, rather transform them into urban tourist destinations

Editor,I wish to respond to the article, “Govt reveals plans to root out slums”, published in The New Times on September 6.
A view of Gatsata, a Kigali suburb. The New Times / File.
A view of Gatsata, a Kigali suburb. The New Times / File.

Editor,

I wish to respond to the article, “Govt reveals plans to root out slums”, published in The New Times on September 6.

As strange as it might sound, I believe that a healthier and inexpensive solution would be to regulate slums instead of rooting them out. I mean setting up minimum sanitation standards of those structures, then provide them with running water, electricity, and clear walk paths with (yellow) lightning, some community spaces (children playgrounds, meeting areas) and a transport system in the neighbourhood.

To make it even more attractive, you could add some grassroots empowerment programmes in the area.

Imagine how beautiful Gatsata would be if those slums could afford good roofing and windows to let enough light in. You make their view attractive from far away on the horizons, while empowering the residents in such areas as education, health, etc.  In doing so you are actually turning these slums into urban tourist destinations.

When I started working a couple of years ago, I headed to a European city that was once called “old town”. These houses, older than 200 years, are in a bad architectural state (they don’t look better than our Gatsata and Biryogo suburbs).

Yet these houses are so expensive and very attractive.

This is the reason why I firmly believe that improving slums is far cheaper than razing them. All we have to do is keep the community together and provide them with specific needs that can be addressed better while they dwell together, and then you will see how slums can turn into a source of lucrative tourism.

Toni, Stuttgart, Germany

 

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