Khlong Toey slum is located on swampland owned by the Port Authority of Bangkok. It’s only a few metro stops from the gleaming condos and luxurious shopping malls of Bangkok’s central districts. Over 130,000 people are crammed into an area of around 2.5 square kilometres. Rubbish and untreated sewage clog the drains and small canals that criss-cross the slum. The population of rats and stray cats and dogs grows unabated. The heat and humidity provide favourable conditions for bacteria to multiply. Few residents have access to healthcare, affordable education and sanitation. Although the Thai government is committed to providing free antiretroviral drugs to all its HIV positive citizens, many HIV positive residents in Khlong Toey are uninformed and unable to get help. Unemployment, endemic crime, drug trafficking, drug addiction and alcoholism are among the slum residents’ most pressing problems. Methamphetamine and crystal methamphetamine are the two most common hard drugs in the slum and their effects on family and social structure are devastating. Residents with mental health problems and the disabled receive little or no support. Obesity and its associated health problems is a growing concern.
To add insult to injury, the residents have no tenure rights and they will be evicted when this centrally located land is developed over the next few years.