A Value of Cities Part II
5: Enormous challenges
The growth of the world’s urban population is happening and will continue to take place in developing countries . However, the growth requires that some very basic problems must be tackled if the cities of the future are to be sustainable, productive and good places to live:
- Urban poverty. Globally, about a quarter of a sixth of people live in a slum – about 1 billion people. The World Bank believes that the number will double by 2030. In some cities, such as Dhaka, as many as 60–70 per cent of the population live in slum areas. Slum dwellers often have poor access to basic services such as clean water, education, electricity and health.
- Pollution:Rapidly growing cities put significant pressure on the environment. The transport lines will be long. The cities pollute and consume a lot of water, creating an enormous amount of rubbish and large air pollution. Much of the energy consumption is not sustainable.
- Infrastructure and basic services : Transportation is a major problem in many cities; they can not take away from the strong traffic week. Electricity plants are dilapidated and unable to meet the needs of the population. In many large cities in developing countries, power outages occur daily. The lack of basic infrastructure threatens the economic development in many urban areas. Water supply is also a major problem.
- Large economic differences:In many cities in developing countries, large sections of the population live in poverty while a small elite is very rich. The poor have little or nothing to say politically. Most researchers agree that such an unfair distribution will be a source of conflict and political unrest in the future. Including the poor both politically and economically is important.
- Land conflicts:Those who move to the cities settle on private or public land. They often pay dearly for the shed they rent, and they can risk being thrown out at any time. Finding solutions that give the poor safe access to affordable housing is very important.
- Unemployed:Large cohorts of young people are more or less unemployed in many of the world’s cities. Economic growth must therefore be created that provides employment for millions of young people.
6: Also good aspects of urbanization
The problems associated with urbanization are great and sometimes seem insurmountable. At the same time, it is also a question of whether the glass is half full or half empty. Many people who research urbanization often call the enormous urban growth a “double-edged sword” : Urbanization entails great challenges globally and nationally, it is said. At the same time, urban growth can help solve many of the developing countries’ problems.
There is a clear connection between development and urbanization . Large cities are economic engines and the World Bank estimates that 80 per cent of the total value creation in the world takes place in cities. Millions of jobs are created in villages every quarter of a year. And although many of the urban dwellers in poor countries live in slum areas, poor people in urban areas still have better access to food, better sanitation, education and health services than is often the case in rural areas.
Families in cities generally have fewer children than families in rural areas. Children are less important as labor in cities than in rural areas. Family planning is also easier in cities; contraception is often more available there. Urban growth will therefore in the long run lead to a flattening of population growth in many countries . It can be positive for many developing countries.
Many cities today are an environmental problem in themselves. Among other things, they use large amounts of water, and due to poor infrastructure and lack of technology, many cities pollute enormously. This can be changed by using more environmentally friendly technology. Among other things, new technology can contribute to more environmentally friendly transport routes and industry.
Another important positive feature of cities is that they often become meeting places for creative environments and new ideas . It often helps to create dynamism and innovation both financially and culturally.
7: Political will decisive
The big question is what urban growth means for development in developing countries. Will the value of the future be full of chaotic and polluting giant cities where there are huge differences between rich and poor? Will the slum area stretch as far as one can see and crime ravage? Will we in the future see “failed cities” in addition to “failed states” as some researchers think?
The questions are many, and it is easy to become pessimistic when one sees how chaotic the urbanization process is in many developing countries. In both Asia and Africa according to searchforpublicschools.com, urbanization is very little planned or controlled . The few measures that have been initiated often have our attempts to limit immigration to cities, largely without effect. In some countries, such as China and Vietnam, governments have more control.
But in general, governments and governments in many developing countries have little knowledge of how to deal with rapid urbanization and they have few resources to invest. The rapid urbanization causes problems they have little experience with. There is also often a lack of political will to tackle the enormous challenges posed by fast-growing cities. Urban planning requires, among other things, long-term planning and cooperation across sectors and strong institutions. It is lacking in many of the countries where cities are growing fastest.
Aid and the various development institutions are blamed by most people who work and research urbanization for having downgraded cities and urban solutions. According to the UN, almost NOK 700 billion a year is needed only for very basic investments in infrastructure in cities in developing countries. Many believe that development assistance can play an important role both in financing urban development and with expertise in urban development.
Assistance can also help make slum strokes more livable. Many aid organizations have, with relatively small means, succeeded in making slum areas better places to live for the inhabitants.
But even though increased aid to the world’s urban area can contribute to solving all the challenges urbanization creates, both researchers and development institutions such as the UN, the World Bank agree that political will is most important – among politicians, governments and decision-makers in developing countries. Political will and ability means tackling the challenges, making difficult choices, prioritizing, including the population and thinking long-term. It will determine whether the world’s cities become viable and good residential areas.