Urbanisation: City and Urban Areas

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Introduction

Urbanization is increasing in both the developed and developing countries. However, rapid urbanization, particularly the growth of large cities, and the associated problems of unemployment, poverty, inadequate health, poor sanitation, urban slums and environmental degradation pose a formidable challenge in many developing countries. Available statistics show that more than half of the world’s 6.6 billion people live in urban areas, crowded into 3 percent of the earth’s land area (Angotti, 1993; UNFPA, 1993). The proportion of the world’s population living in urban areas, which was less than 5 percent in 1800 increased to 47 percent in 2000 and is expected to reach 65 percent in 2030 (United Nations, 1990; 1991). However, more
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Government development policies and budget allocations, which often favour urban residents over rural areas, tend to pull people into the urban areas. In the cities, public investment, which often misses the urban poor, with expenditures biased towards the higher-income classes and poverty among vulnerable groups such as new migrants force them into slums and squatter settlements.

Challenges of urbanisation

Cities throughout the world exhibit an incredible diversity of characteristics, economic structures, levels of infrastructure, historic origins, patterns of growth, and degrees of formal planning. Yet, many of the problems that they face are strikingly familiar. For one thing, as cities grow, they become increasingly diverse. Every city has its relatively more affluent and relatively poorer neighborhoods. But in developing countries, poorer neighborhoods can have dramatically lower levels of basic services. Consequently, a large number of urban residents in developing countries suffer to a greater or lesser extent from severe environmental health challenges associated with insufficient access to clean drinking water, inadequate sewerage facilities, and insufficient solid waste disposal. A major recent United Nations report on the state of
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