According to the World Health Organization, overcrowding 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. The terms crowding and overcrowding are often used interchangeably to refer to the same condition.
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.While population density is an objective measure of number of people living per unit area, overcrowding refers to people’s psychological response to density. But, definitions of crowding used in statistical reporting and for administrative purposes are based on density measures and do not usually incorporate people’s perceptions of crowding.
Risks due to overcrowding :
1. Physical : Spread of infectious diseases
2. Psychological : Frustration, anxiety
3. Social : Violence
4. High morbidity and mortality
The standards for overcrowding as defined by the World Health Organization is as follows:
1. 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.
2. The WHO accepted standards for floor space are as follows. A baby under 12 months is not counted, and children between 1 and 10 years are counted as half a unit
3. 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.