Megacities and the Development Gap

Housing, deprivation, environment, consequences of development

  • Created by: georgie
  • Created on: 15-04-10 14:11


The growth of large cities will have a considerable influence on future development. As cities grow, the cost of meeting basic needs such as housing, infrastructure and services increases, as does pressure on the environment. New migrants to a city often have little money, so they cannot rent a home or borrow money to buy one. Land and housing regulations make it difficult for poor people. As a result they either move in with friends and relatives, sleep on the streets, or build a makeshift house on unused land, thus increasing the number of urban poor. These “temporary” settlements tend to occur on land that is:· Too steep, marshy or polluted for building

  • Alongside transport routes
  • Close to the city centre but not developed because the owner is unknown or has left it empty, hoping it will increase in value
  • On former farmland at the edge of the city, abandoned as the city spreads.

Most of the urban poor do not have tenure security because their dwellings are illegal. Many people also rent in slums without formal contracts. As a result cities in developing countries often have high levels of inequality between rich and poor residents.

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Urban poverty is a complex problem; the urban poor live with many hardships and face daily challenges, including:

· Limited access to employment opportunities and income

· Reliance in the informal economy

· Inadequate, crowded and insecure housing and services

· Violent and unhealthy environments due to the density and hazardous location of settlements and exposure to multiple pollutants

· Little or no social protection mechanisms, with little support from the police or legal rights

· Limited access to health and education opportunities or infrastructure such as telephone and internet access

· Limited access to credit facilities

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Deprivation continued

With such a high proportion of the population of many developing countries now living in cities, obtaining an accurate picture of where the poor are concentrated within those cities is an important requirement for targeting any management, which might improve the whole country’s level of development.

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Development and poverty reduction are often at the expense of the environment, unless there is careful management or significant efforts to promote sustainable development. Cities in developing countries are affected by the “brown agenda” associated with economic development. This has two components:

· Environmental health issues linked to limited availability of good quality land, shelter and services such as clean water and sanitation

· Problems resulting from rapid industrialisation, such as toxic or hazardous waste; water, air and noise pollution, and industrial accidents due to poor standards of health and safety.

The “green agenda” focuses on the impact of development on the natural environment, while the “blue agenda” looks at water quality and supply.

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By 2015 Dhaka is likely to have a population of 21 million and one of the highest population densities in the world. Its rapid growth is due to high rates of natural increase and large volumes of migration from rural areas. This migration occurs because of insufficient job prospects in villages, extreme rural poverty, landlessness due to flooding, and large urban-rural wage differences, plus the perception that better education, health services and social amenities are to be found in the capital city.

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Social and political unrest

It is easy to understand how disparities in wealth can create uneasiness, discrimination and unrest between rich and poor, both between and within countries. Within countries, they are intensified when the distinction between the “haves” and “have nots” aligns with sociocultural differences such as ethnicity, religion, political allegiance and class.

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South Africa has an abundance of natural resources, including gold, diamonds and platinum and fertile farmlands. Between 1948 and 1990, the government operated a policy known as apartheid. Apartheid segregated all areas in life, including where you lived and ensured that the vast economic differences were maintained if not increased.

Black resentment of this injustice was strong but kept in check by white controlled police and army. Since the ending of apartheid there has been some easing of the “gaps” between the three groups. Since 1990 the country has had a succession of black presidents and governments, but whites are still very much in control of the economy and wealth.

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East Timor, officially known as the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, is a small country in Southeast Asia. It mainly comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor. From the 16th century until 1975 it was a Portuguese colony. Shortly after Portugal withdrew, it was invaded by Indonesia.

The reasons for the Indonesian occupation of this poor, sparsely populated and underdeveloped territory were not immediately clear. Initially it was thought that Indonesia wanted to stop East Timor from adopting a communist regime allied to China and that it could use the island as a place to move people from its over populated islands. It later emerged that oil and natural gas field had been discovered under the sea between Indonesia and East Timor.

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East Timor continued

In 1999, after a long guerrilla was, Indonesia agreed to let the East Timorese choose between independence and local autonomy. Militia loyal to Indonesia tried to use terror to discourage a vote for independence. However more than 75 voted in favour of independence and in 2002 East Timor became the first new sovereign state of the 21stcentury.

Exploitation of the oil and gas has begun with the help of Australia, and East Timor’s economic future is starting to look much brighter. Clearly this will affect the development gap that exists between Indonesia and East Timor.

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Consequences of development- migration

Development changes that bring mixed results include migration. Increased migration flows appear to be an integral part of development and are of two kinds: international and internal. International migration involves both immigration to a country as it develops (e.g. business people, technicians, workers from less developed countries) and emigration (people now able to seek a better life elsewhere in the world). The internal flows are mostly one way, from rural to urban and from periphery to core.

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Consequences of development- environement

One of the greatest negatives of development is environmental pollution and the deepening of a country’s ecological footprint. This is the amount of land and water required to provide a person or society with the energy, food and resources they consume, and absorb the waste they produce/

No country in history has emerged as a major industrial power without creating a legacy of environmental damage that can take decades and huge amounts of public wealth to undo.

Economic development raises demand for resources, particularly minerals and energy, and there is a strong temptation to exploit these as quickly and as cheaply as possible, regardless of the environmental costs. “Growth comes first” tends to be the philosophy.

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Pollution in China

The speed and scale of China’s growth as an economic power is matched by the growth of its pollution problem. Environmental degradation is creating a major long-term burden for the Chinese people. The main contributors to pollution include:

· Large scale working of coal and other minerals

· Coal fired power stations which discharge huge amounts of pollutants in to the air

· Heavy industry, which requires a lot of energy from the burning of fossil fuels, and creates other forms of pollution.

· Expanding car ownership, heavy traffic and low grade petrol

· Indoor air pollution caused by poorly ventilated cola and wood stoves or toxic fumes from shoddy construction materials

· Dumping of waste into rivers and lakes by factories and farms

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Pollution in China continued

The most obvious impact of such pollution is on the health of the Chinese people, particularly the poor urban dwellers.

China’s pollution picture looks bad today, but it is set to get much worse, because the country now relies on energy-intensive heavy industry and urbanisation to fuel economic growth. Politicians are reluctant to do anything that might curb China’s economic development.

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Eleanor Surtees


Thank you ;)

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