International terrorists in a megacity slum could threaten any city, anywhere in the world, It is vital to prevent this happening.
A megacity is a metropolitan area with a total population in excess of ten million people.
The largest megacity today is the Tokyo-Yokohama metro area, Japan, home to 37 million people, followed by the Indonesian capital, Jakarta (28 million), Seoul-Incheon, S Korea (25 million), Shanghai, China (23 million), Delhi, India (22 million) and Manila, Philippines (12 million).
By 2025 Asia alone will have at least 10 mega cities, including Mumbai, India (33 million), Shanghai, China (27 million), Karachi, Pakistan (27 million),and Dhaka, Bangladesh (26 million)..
Megacity slums, along with mega cities, are growing at a frenetic rate.
Slums are defined by the United Nations as run-down areas of a city characterized by substandard housing, squalor, and the absence of tenure security.
One billion people worldwide are estimated to live in slums today, and this number is projected to increase to 2 billion by 2030! Most slums are lawless, lacking in sanitation services,clean water supplies, reliable electricity, and other basic services.
Slums are called by various names: ‘squatter settlements.’ ‘favelos,’ ‘informal settlements.’ ‘shanty towns;’ and ‘bustees.’ to name a few. But the names do not change their intollerable living conditions.
Reliable estimates of slum populations in individual mega cities are difficult to establish so the following numbers are approximations: Mumbai, India, 11 million, Jakarta, Indonesia 7 million, Cairo, Egypt, 7 million, Dhaka, India 6 million, Sao Paulo, Brazil, 5 million, Mexico City, Mexico, 4 million., Manilla, Philippines, 4 million.
These slum populations, often warehoused within a stone’s throw of wealthy, gated-neighborhoods protected by armed guards, could easily become frustrated and revolt.
Keep in mind that mega cities in the developing world find it difficult to provide security for their citizens. And it will be even more difficult for the authorities to prevent terrorists establishing themselves in slum neighborhoods.
Moreover, criminal gangs in slum neighborhoods are challenging their governments for control. International terrorists are likely to find ways of cooperating with these gangs.
The consequences could be fatal for cities everywhere if terrorists are able to set up in these slums.
Terrorists will be able to attack and pick apart the networks that every city is dependent on for communications, electricity, transportation, water and other essential services.
Terrorists embedded in megacity slums will also obtain access to biological weapons sometime in the near future. And that could be a game-changer.
The outcome is not yet clear. But preventing terrorists from gaining a foothold in megacity slums will be an issue of international concern over the coming years.Here are some preliminary thoughts on preventive measures:
Establish mechanisms for publishing feeedback on what is happening in slums in mega cities.
Encourage inter-governmental cooperation to prevent international terrorists setting up shop in these slums.
Foster research on how mega cities and their slums function, as well as how to prevent megacity slums being used by international terrorists
Coordinate with slum residents to identify and outlaw international terrorists in their midst.
If we do not take action now we could wake up one morning, turn on our computers or televisions and learn that terrorists in a far away megacity have disrupted the power infrastructure of a major city in Western Europe, Asia or Africa- assuming our power has not been disrupted too!
What can we do to prevent international terrorists from embedding themselves in megacity slums? Please let me know what you think.