Geography Paper 2: Urban Issues and Challenges

  • Created by: ccoatesx
  • Created on: 25-05-19 09:00

Global pattern of urban change

What causes urbanisation? An increase in the birth rate and a decrease in the death rate, and migration to urban areas. 

The UN forecasts that today's urban population of 3.2 billion will rise to 5 billion by 2030. 

The highest rates of urbanisation are in LICs in Asia and Africa, as most people still live in rural areas and the rate of rural-urban migration, and the rate of natural increase is high.

There are lower rates of urbanisation in HICs as most of the population already lives in cities. The urban population is aging because natural increase is decreasing. 

What factors affect the rate of urbanisation? 

  • Nautral increase (caused by a young population and better healthcare
  • Economic development, location and mainly rural-urban migration

In the future most megacities are likely to be in Asia, particularly China and India. 

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Rural-urban migration

Pull factors:

  • More opportunities for employment, with better wages
  • Better healthcare systems and schools
  • Draw of stories filter back from people who left the village and are now doing well
  • Prestige, driving up the property prices

Push factors:

  • Opportunities for employment are limited
  • Fewer services and access to education and healthcare
  • Poorer infrastructure

Internal growth in LICs is caused by young people migrating, finding employment and housing, and then having children. 

Many cities in HICs are facing ageing populations and declining numbers. 

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Welcome to Lagos and Growing Lagos

Lagos has been a major trading port since pre-colonial times, and was made the capital under British rule. It's coastal location and sheltered lagoon are excellent for shipping. Abuja was chosen as the new capital of Nigeria becuase of its central location and more pleasant location. 

The population of Lagos is predicted to hit 18.9 million in 2025. 

Push factors specfic to Nigeria:

  • Few jobs exsist other than farming
  • Boko Haram is active in the north of Nigeria
  • Land in the Niger Delta region is polluted by the oil industry

Pull factiors for Nigeria:

  • Policing provides more security
  • Land degradation is less important
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Lagos: A city of opportunity

What are the opportunities in Lagos?

  • Employment - More jobs are available in Lagos than anywhere else in Nigeria, if there is no suitable work in the formal industry there is much opportunity for work in the informal economy
  • Education - More schools and universities, means you are more likely to find work in a growing industry, e.g. Lagos' film industry - Nollywood. 
  • Healthcare - Not always free but is at least available, you have to que if you can't pay

The Oluson rubbish dump in Lagos

Pro's: Employs around 500 people, valuable items can be sold and workers build homes from waste material.

Con's: The dump occupies valuable space in Lagos, only 13% of the waste is recycled, and natural gases can build up, causing fires. 

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Urbanisation and the informal economy in Lagos

How urbanisation is helping Lagos:

Transport - the first stage of a planned rapid transport network in the city has been built.

Electricity - two new power stations are planned to reduce the city's shortage of electricity and light the streets at night. 

Crime reduction - To tackle armed muggings and carjacking, the city has brought three helicopters for police to spot criminal activities. 

Pro's of the informal economy: Unemployment is lower in the city. 

Con's of the informal economy: There is no unemployment benefit for those without work. There is a limit to the amount of jobs it can support. 

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Squatter settlements + an informal sector in LICs

Why have squatter settlements and an informal sector of the economy developed in LICs? 

  • Urbanisation has increased at a pace which is too fast for the government to build proper houses or there is not enough affordable housing so people find their own solution
  • Migrants have little money when they arrive so they cannot afford rent or to buy houses so they make their own makeshift shelters
  • The pace of urbanisation is too fast for the economy to expand and create jobs so people find work in the informal sector
  • These jobs are not monitored by the government or taxed

Location of a squatter settlement: Low value land which can be prone to landslides and flooding, they are illegal and can often be found along routeways. 

Characteristics of a squatter settlement: Shelters are homemade from corrugated iron, cardboard and oil drums. Usually one or two rooms with a very rudimentary design, Sewage often runs down streets and pollutes the water supply. 

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Problems with squatter settlements and Makoko

Problems of a squatter settlement:

  • Water borne diseases (typhoid, cholera) spread quickly due to the high building density
  • Infant mortality rates are high as healthcare is too expensive and too far away to access 
  • The stress of living in a shanty town leads to frequent breakdown of families

Makoko - The world's largest floating slum:

  • Located at the edge of Lagos Lagoon
  • People build their own homes
  • Population estimated at 250,000
  • No proper sanitation with people using pail latrines
  • The local government want to destroy it to improve Lagos' reputation but homeowners are very proud and unwilling to leave
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Lagos - Water supply and pollution

Only 10% of the population in Lagos has a piped water supply, mostly people get their water from vendors selling it in containers on the streets but this water is mostly gathered from boreholes and can still be unsanitary. Other methods include digging their own wells or sink boreholes to reach ground water supplies. 

In 2012 the Lagos State Water Regulatory was formed with the job of regulating the water supply and water vendors, a massive task. It has begun to roll out licences but with fakes already being reported it seems the LSWR will need to find another method. 

Why is rising sea level a threat to Lagos? 

  • The predicted rise in sea level due to climate change threatens most of Lagos
  • Flooding could increase and groundwater could become contaminated by salt
  • Rapid urbanisation has covered the land with buildings and concrete, making the threat more severe, with land reclamation reducing the area of floodplain for the water to flood into
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Traffic congestion

The average Lagosian commuter spends over three hours in traffic everyday, making Lagos one of the most congested cities in the world. Air pollution rates in Lagos are five times higher that the rate in European cities.

In 2013 the Lagos Metropolitan Area Tranpsort Authoirty (LAMATA) was set up to improve transport in the city. 

Bus rapid transit system: A north-south route from the suburbs to the CBD on Lagos Island. Has a separate lane for buses to reduce trave times. A quater of all commuters use the service every day. A sing BRT route is inadequate in a city the size of Lagos. This is supplemented by a large fllet of minibus taxis which are usually hugely overcrowed and unsafe.

The Strategic Transport Master Plan for Lagos:

  • An intergrated transport system
  • A new waterway network of ferries to make use of the water around Lagos
  • A new airport futher from the congested urban area
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Urban Planning - Makoko Floating School

Built in 2014, with classrooms that can seat up to 60 children at a time. Also used as a community centre. The school is environmentally sustainable with a floating design that could help communities to withstand the impact of rising sea levels as a result of climate change. 


  • Gives residents of all ages a chance at education
  • Designed to use revewable energy, recycle organic waste and harvest rainwater


  • In June 2016 the Makoko Floating was destroyed in a very heavy rainstorm
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