In some days I will fly out to Guiuan, a disaster-struck town in the Philippines, to manage projects that aim to improve the acute living conditions of people there. As I run my last errands and move around Malmö, where I settled half a year ago, I come to a standstill.
Malmö, like all town and cities, large and small, here in Sweden are encountering acute living conditions first hand and the city seems unprepared. Acute living conditions, such as makeshift camps, are something that until recently only existed on the TV and in far away countries.
Over the last 2 years an increasing and mobile group of people are living in these most precarious conditions in Sweden. They are visible to all, as the group has made the busiest places of the city their home; they beg and socialize on the shopping streets and sleep in cars and vans, in makeshift tent settlements, some housing upto 100 people on inner-city sites. Others again, hoping not be moved on, settle in more discrete groups in the city’s parks. The photo I took the other day illustrates this.
The largest number of the people are immigrants from other EU countries, resulting in that the question of ‘who’s responsible’ holds back any real action by the authorities. Instead individuals and local organisation are showing their solidarity and supporting the best they can.
As I continue to prepare for my upcoming international assignment, I am wondering if and then how my global experiences can be applied in Sweden?
With the Swedish city increasingly accommodating global trends such as migrations, merging identities and informal growth, can my knowledge from places such as Iraq, Egypt and Haiti in culturally adequate and affordable housing, informality and techniques of how to winterise tent camps in Northern Iraq be of use here in Malmö?