squatter-homes 07

Overcrowding is a term commonly underrated. It refers to the situation in which more people are living within a single dwelling than there is space for, so that movement is restricted, privacy secluded, hygiene impossible, rest and sleep difficult (WHO).

It was in my community medicine class that this definition was put across to us and it changed my mind set of what overcrowding is. The concept of overcrowding is science-based concept. Most times, crowding and overcrowding are interchangeably used.

Overcrowding could also be seen as an indicator of economic progress of a community or society.

The effects on quality of life due to crowding may be due to children sharing a bed or bedroom, increased physical contact, lack of sleep, lack of privacy, poor hygiene practices and an inability to care adequately for sick household members. It is quite obvious that the criteria for overcrowding is based on population density indices and may not necessarily be based on the perception of humans.


The standards for overcrowding as defined by the World Health Organization[citation needed] is as follows:

  • The room standard is contravened when the number of persons sleeping in a dwelling and the number of rooms available as sleeping accommodation is such that two persons of opposite sexes who are not living together as husband and wife must sleep in the same room. For this purpose, children under the age of ten shall be left out of account, and a room is available as sleeping accommodation if it is of a type normally used in the locality either as a bedroom or as a living room.
  • The WHO accepted standards for floor space are as follows. A baby under 12 months is not counted, and children between 1 to 10 years are counted as half a unit.
Area (in sq. metre) No. of persons
11 or more 2 persons
9 to 10 1.5 persons
7 to 9 1 person
5 to 7 0.5 person
Under 5 Nil
  • Overcrowding is considered to exist if two persons over 9 years of age, not husband and wife, of opposite sexes are obliged to sleep in the same room.


  • Spreading of Infectious Disease
  • Depression
  • Total loss of privacy
  • Irritating contacts
  • Frustration
  • Prone to accidents
  • Anxiety

Now that you have a glimpse into what overcrowding is, structure your life and get it less overcrowded!!!

photocredit: Dreamstime


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