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So the folks in the barrios live in makeshift shelters, assembled from whatever materials they have available; they have to worry about where they're going to get clean water and food from one day to the next, etc.

How is this any different from how all of humanity lived for millennia, up until about ten thousand years ago?

I don't mean to sound condescending or dismissive, I'm just wondering why more people don't see these circumstances as an opportunity to develop mature, self-reliant communities, and instead presume that some external catalyst is necessary to improve the situation.

Many do and in very creative ways. The real problem your not factoring in is the role of predators and their affects on survival strategies.

What sort of predators are you referring to?

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