For the first time in history, half of humanity lives in towns and cities. However, of this three billion people, one billion have little to celebrate. Imagine raising your family in an environment without clean water, adequate sanitation or a decent roof over your head. Worse, imagine coming home from work to find your home demolished, your possessions in the street and your children rummaging in the dust. This is the life that one in six people lives out on a daily basis. Surrounded by skyscrapers and bright lights, the urban poor are condemned to eke out a living in a parallel universe where child mortality rates are higher, life expectancy is lower and crime rates are unacceptable. Despite the fact that the poor are critical to successful urban economies everywhere, 72 percent of the urban population in Africa lives in slums, while in Asia, though the proportion is lower, the absolute figure is higher. This book shows the stark and unacceptable contrasts in cities and towns of the developing world. It follows in the tradition of seminal work by authors such as Charles Dickens, Emile Zola and Jacob Riis, who documented the appalling living conditions of the urban poor of their time and helped change attitudes. Today, over a century later, this publication hopes to persuade you that tomorrow's crisis is already here and it is time to act.