One Month in Photos

Accra, Bangkok, Chennai, Lima, Manila, Nairobi | 05/03/2013 1:58pm
Informal City Dialogues

In the past month, our bloggers (almost) got soaked at a huge water fight in Bangkok, drank illegal brews in the slum-based bars of Nairobi and visited an embattled market for the poor in Lima. Here are some of the pictures they took along the way.


Patrons of a bar in one of Nairobi’s slums drink illicit brews through electrical cords, the straw of choice. As ingredients for the drinks get more expensive, some brewers are replacing them with deadly chemicals like gasoline.

A family at La Parada market in Lima. Traditionally a place where the poor could buy cheap wholesale items, the city has been trying to shut down the market as it takes steps to formalize its vendors.

Huddled on an island created by a flood, slum residents in Nairobi wait out the city’s annual “long rains.” The yearly drenching makes life even more difficult than usual for informal settlers.

An informal ambulance operator soaks down the crowd at Songkran, Thailand’s nationwide water fight. The annual event provides copious opportunities for informal vendors to hawk squirt guns and zip-lock bags.

A woman tends to a field in Sai Noi, an area that was forced to fend for itself during Bangkok’s devastating 2011 flood. The community’s tight social networks were one of the reasons it was able to cope so effectively.

One of the village leaders in Sai Noi holds a photograph of his flooded neighborhood. For a period during the flood, he and a few other residents who stayed behind while others evacuated were the sole authorities present there.

Informal settlers act out a scene in a play about slum demolitions in Manila. Government officials were invited to the performance in the hopes that it might influence their thinking.

A traditional healer in Lima pours a shot of snake-infused alcohol. With doctors scarce and health-care costs high, many Peruvians still seek out such remedies.

A water tank in Kibera, one of Nairobi’s slums. Though a law mandates that municipal water must be delivered to the city’s informal settlements, it’s often piped only to the border — illegal pipes and cartels haul it the rest of the way.