Top 10 Largest Slums In The World (2023)

As the world’s population continues to grow, so does the problem of informal settlements. In fact, the largest slums in the world put together are bigger than some countries. They may be nature’s way of keeping humanity humble; when one looks at the deplorable conditions in these slums it becomes a reminder of man’s failure to provide the basic necessities of life for its teeming populations.

While there is a lot of confusion as to the proper definition of the word “slum,” Merriam-Webster defines a slum as “a densely populated usually urban area marked by crowding, dirty run-down housing, poverty, and social disorganization.” Therefore, in these slums, you can expect to see people living in unsanitary conditions, without clean water, healthcare, and education.

Crime is usually rife in these slums; they are usually poorly patrolled by security agents.

Largest Slums In The World

 1. Orangi Town, Karachi, Pakistan

Population: 2.4 million people

Orangi Town, in Karachi, Pakistan was established in 1965, as a municipal town. However, over the years it has continued to attract people, especially from the rural villages. A major issue in Orangi has been the lack of sanitation; but after waiting for government intervention, most of the local residents have taken to building their own toilets; and now it is estimated that 96 percent of households have toilets.

Orangi is beset by other problems such as overcrowding, and the heavy burden on health services. However, Orangi Town has already proven what the people can do when they put their heads together such as when they built their sewage system back in the 1980s.

 2. Ciudad Neza, Mexico City, Mexico

Population: 1.2 million people

Ciudad Neza has a population of 1.2 million people. That makes it an important human settlement by any standard. This is an informal settlement in Mexico City, built near the Distrito Federal. This slum was built in the 40’s as a place for people who could not afford federal housing. Even though the settlement was illegally planned, developed, and built, there is a strong sense of community, as the residents come together to provide the things they need.

Nevertheless, Ciudad Neza mostly needs investments in the area of transportation, employment, and education. Crime and drugs are a constant problem, but that is the way it is throughout Mexico.

Ciudad Neza has filled a need; it has provided the opportunity for people to get housing. It is seen as a model self-built city because the people have come together to provide what they need.

 3. Dharavi, Mumbai, India

Population: 1 million people

Dharavi, with a population of about 1 million people, and a land area of about 2.1 square kilometers, is one of the most densely populated places on earth. It is one of the largest slums in the world, and one of the first places to be pointed out when discussing unsanitary living conditions.

The Dharavi slum was founded in 1884 during the British colonial era, it grew in size because of the expulsion of factories and residents from the nearby peninsular city centre by the colonial government. Since then it has continued to witness a staggering increase in population as many rural Indians have come into the slum, looking for work in Mumbai.

Dharvi is largely a collection of wooden structures built so closely together. This is where the popular film Slumdog Millionaire was shot; the slum lacks a sewage system, drainage, and security.

Interestingly though most residents have electricity and cooking gas. There is a thriving informal sector in Dharavi, and it is estimated to have an annual turnover of US$1 billion. Some of the products that contribute to this informal economy include leather, textiles, and pottery products.

 4. Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya

Population: 700,000 people

Kibera actually means forest or jungle in the Kinubi language. It is a slum in Nairobi, Kenya that can be described as a jungle of rag-tag houses. Kibera is located about 6.6 kilometres from the city centre, and is the largest slum in Africa. There are conflicting figures quoted as the population of Kibera; some estimate about 170,000, while others quote figures as high as 1 or 2 million.

Kibera is made up of small structures built in close proximity with one another, and mostly lacking sewage, water, and electricity. Most Kibera slum residents live in extreme poverty, earning less than US$1.00 per day. Apart from poverty, there is also a high prevalence of HIV and AIDS. The settlement also lacks security; rape is quite common.

The people of Kibera can often not afford to send their children to school, they need health care, and most importantly they need clean drinking water.

 5. Kawangware, Nairobi, Kenya

Population: 650,000 people

Kawangware, in Nairobi, Kenya is a poor neighborhood with a population of about 200,000 to 650,000 people. This is an informal settlement with little or no planning. Many of the houses have electricity, but they lack clean water, sewage, and drainage. Kawangware has a very young population; it is estimated that 65% of the population are children and youths.

Poverty is perhaps the biggest problem in this slum; most inhabitants live on less than $2 a day. Finding employment is quite difficult; and even when they can find the jobs, the pay is mostly low. The bare necessities such as food, clothing, and shelter are considered luxuries in Kawangware.

There are several ongoing health issues in Kawangware; one of which is the prevalence of waterborne diseases as a result of the scarcity of safe drinking water. Respiratory pneumonia, malaria airborne diseases due to the poor sewerage system are also problems of major concern. Furthermore, many people in Kawangware are HIV-positive.

 6. Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya

Population: 500,000 people

Mathare is not just one slum in Nairobi; it is considered to be a collection of slums in Nairobi, the oldest one dating back to the 1920s. The oldest one of these slums is called Mathare Valley and has a population of about 120,000. This slum is a collection of wooden structures built without any central planning whatsoever. The structures are clustered together without any space, drainage or sewage; some of the structures are actually standing on heaps of rubbish.

Mathare lacks the necessities of modern living such as electricity, roads, clean water, and sanitation. Furthermore, the area is in dire need of security as it is almost lawless. There is an ongoing gang war; caused by some gangs levying heavy taxes on brewers of a local alcoholic drink.

Efforts are being made to direct the energy of these restless youths to something productive, such as sports. Mathare is home to several football teams.

 7. Khayelitsha, Cape Town, South Africa

Population: 400,000 people

Khayelitsha is located in Cape Town, South Africa. It is the largest informal settlement in South Africa with a population of 400,000, and also one of the largest slums in the world. Most of the houses in Khayelitsha are shacks built with wood and corrugated iron for roofing. Thousands in this township lack access to decent toilets; and the area is generally dirty.

Khayelitsha now has a school, and medical facilities, but many people still have to walk long distances to get drinking water. Crime is a serious problem here, and businesses are wary of setting up shop in the neighborhood. Khayelitsha is practically unrecognized by most of the top businesses in South Africa, although that creates opportunities for those in the informal economy.

 8. Makoko, Lagos

Population: 300,000 People

Makoko is an area of six collective slum villages. Four of these villages are floating on water in the lagoon and two are situated on the land. The history of Makoko is quite difficult to trace; there have always been river-dwelling tribes in Southwest Nigeria.  However, a good part of the population is made up of Egun people who migrated from the Benin Republic. Makoko has recently come into recognition because of many of the problems facing it.

Crime, drug abuse, and malnutrition are some of the major problems, while diseases like malaria continue to pose serious health challenges.

Fishing is a major commercial activity in Makoko, the fish is often smoked and sold to buyers who resell it at inland markets. Many residents claim that life is not very different in Makoko than on land; buying and selling take place as usual.

 9. Rocinha, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Population: 200,000 people

Rocinha is the largest favela in Brazil. Favela is the Portuguese word for slum. Rocinha has a population of about 200,000 people, and it is rather unfortunate that it has historically received government neglect. However, this is a very interesting place indeed. Most of the buildings are built with solid blocks; some are even four stories tall.

The major thing about Rocinha is that it is built on the very sloppy ground, and the buildings are mostly clustered together without any real planning. Most of the buildings have electricity, toilets, and running water.

The government is working to improve security; and this has brought in lots of private investments, thus creating jobs. Rocinha is now called a Favela Bairro, or favela neighborhood.

 10. Kangemi, Nairobi, Kenya

Population: 100,000 people

Kangemi is a slum in Kenya located on the outskirts of Nairobi. Kangemi actually has a symbiotic relationship with the nearby middle-class neighborhoods of Loresho, Kibagare, and Westlands. Kangemi is also near Kawangware, another slum in Nairobi. Kangemi has a population of about 100,000 people and is multi-ethnic in nature.

Kangemi is home to some of Nairobi’s poorest; they generally live on less than $2 a day and lack good food, running water, and sanitation. There is a high unemployment rate, drug addiction, and alcoholism. Kangemi has a huge HIV problem.


A major hallmark that is present in most of the largest slums in the world is poverty. Many slum residents only live in these unsanitary conditions because they are poor, and cannot afford to live in decent housing.

Interestingly, informal settlements can look at the example of Orangi Town in Pakistan as an example of what people can do when they put their heads together to find solutions to their collective problems.



The rates of negative effects that arise from slums are alarming. They affect everything about a community, from education to natural disasters. This article provides information about the largest slums in the world. This piece of work aids to provide information concerning the abode of some persons in the world.

About a quarter (part) of the world’s urban population lives in slums. A slum is a place that is an overpopulated metropolis, which consists of a highly dense settlement, weak housing units in a situation of a deteriorated or incomplete housing structure, occupied mainly by a broke or poor individual or group (family or any group of friends). Slums are different in size and other featured characteristics, the majority of slums are short of a reliable supply of clean water, sanitation services, law enforcement, reliable electricity, and other basic life necessities. The nature of residences in slums varies from shanty houses to professionally designed and built houses which, because of mediocre construction or provision of basic maintenance are dilapidated.

The increase and the desire of individuals or groups to reside in urban areas have made slums common in various countries. Slums are still predominantly found in urban regions of developing countries but are also still found in developed economies.


Slums form and grow in different parts of the world for reasons which vary. The causes for the rapid increase in slum formation and growth consist of

  1. Rapid rural-to-urban migration;
  2. Informal economy
  3. Forced or manipulated ghetto formation;
  4. Poor planning, politics; and
  5. Economic stagnation and depression;
  6. High unemployment, poverty;
  7. Natural disasters and social conflicts.

Ideas and strategies have been put in place so as to curb the increase and high rate of slum development and transform slums in different countries from the devastated state to something somewhat healthily habitable, with varying degrees of success, this includes an arrangement or consensus for slum removal, relocation of the slum, upgrading of the slum, urban planning with citywide infrastructure development, and public housing.