Rapidly growing slums, with millions of people living in extreme poverty and struggling for survival, are a huge problem for South Asia's major cities. Up to 25 percent of the population of these urban areas live in slums. Thousands arrive daily from rural areas in search of jobs and a better life, only to become trapped in desperation and hopelessness.
Open sewage, polluted water, lack of health care, illiteracy, superstition, and diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS are just some of the threats all around them. Every day is a new battle to somehow find a job—or keep the one they have—as laborer, porter, sweeper or house servant. If that's not possible, they must resort to begging, scavenging or prostitution to be able to eat. If they get too sick or too old to work, there is no social agency to help them survive. No wonder many slum dwellers drown their fears and sorrows in alcohol.