10 Facts About Overpopulation in AfricaAfrica as a continent is growing in many ways. Many of its countries’ economies are growing quickly, lifting people out of extreme poverty. As economies grow and escape extreme poverty, several countries are developing issues with overpopulation. Though the issues exist for many reasons, there are viable solutions that, in some cases, are already being implemented. Hopefully, some solutions will provide a path for the future of the developing continent. Below are the top 10 facts about overpopulation in Africa. They describe how the issue came about and what is being done to solve it.

10 Facts About Overpopulation in Africa

  1. By 2050 Africa’s population is predicted to double. With so many countries having such a high birth rate, the populations of African countries are rising very quickly. Africa’s current population of more than 1.1 billion is expected to exceed 2 billion in the next 30 years. The population is growing at a rate faster than any other continent.
  2. By 2100, five of the top 10 most populous countries will be in Africa. Currently, Nigeria is the only country in Africa with a population in the top 10. Its population is expected to grow by another 527 million people by that time. With African countries growing at such fast rates, it is estimated that by 2100 the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Egypt will join Nigeria in the top 10.
  3. Africa holds 27 out of 30 of the countries with the highest birth rates. An overwhelming majority of the countries with the highest birth rates reside in Africa. Niger, Angola and Mali all have an average of around six births per woman. These rates are much higher than in developed nations. To compare, the U.S. has a birth rate of 1.88. Other developing countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have birth rates around 2.1.
  4. Seventy percent of Africans are under 30 years old. The African population is the youngest in the world. As this younger population reaches working age, the demand for jobs will increase. Jobs will need to be developed to satisfy this job market.
  5. Africa is urbanizing quickly. Around 80 percent of Africa’s massive population growth will occur in cities. This is in addition to the massive rush to urbanization that has already occurred in Africa. While Africa may not be lacking land, its population is crowded into cities. In 2010, 90 percent of the continent’s population was living on only 21 percent of the land.
  6. Forty-seven percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s urban population lives in slums. The influx of people into African cities is putting stress on the housing and living situations within the cities. Close to half of all people on the continent are living in slums. They live in conditions that are crowded, lacking proper sanitation and often poorly constructed.
  7. One cause of overpopulation is actually positive for Africa as a whole. One of the major causes for population increase is actually increased quality of life. More children surviving into adulthood and healthier adults have lowered the death rate in several African countries. The impact of healthcare is a major positive. However, if fertility rates do not fall while death rates continue to decrease, the population will boom and lead to overpopulation.
  8. There are known solutions to overpopulation. Education is one of the key ingredients to reducing overpopulation. Educating people on how to properly family plan can help them to keep families smaller. Along with this, people must be provided with the resources to implement what they have learned.
  9. Kenya serves as a model for other countries. In 2009, Kenya started a program called Vision 2030. this vision aimed to lower the country’s birth rate from five in 2009 to three by 2030. By 2018, Kenya had already achieved its goal with a fertility rate of 2.81. Vision 2030 accomplished this with funding from USAID along with education programs and policies that informed people about family planning.
  10. There are active organizations helping to reduce overpopulation. An organization called Rutgers is already active in Africa to fight overpopulation. This organization works to raise awareness about sexual reproductive health. It recently opened an office in Uganda to carry out its mission through partnerships with schools, government advocacy and local authorities.

These 10 facts about overpopulation in Africa show that it is an issue that continues to plague the continent. Despite the prevalence of the issue, however, there are known solutions that are being implemented to solve the problem.

Josh Fritzjunker
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Mogadishu
Mogadishu is one of the fastest-growing cities in the world, withstanding famine, drought, war and terrorist occupations to earn this title. The country is also a budding tech hub, home to coffee shops, new colleges and even a TedX conference. Underneath these contrasting descriptions of Somalia’s capital city lie two issues that continue the cycle of poverty for the majority of residents: famine and terrorism. The root causes of many of the following 10 facts about poverty in Mogadishu can be traced back to these two underlying issues.

10 Facts About Poverty in Mogadishu

  1. The issue of poverty in Mogadishu is being worsened by famine in Somalia’s countryside. More than 500,000 Somalis have been heading toward Mogadishu in search of food, water and shelter, and around 100,000 have reached the borders of Mogadishu. They are desperately in need of food assistance.
  2. Camps have been set up around Mogadishu to deal with the influx of famine refugees; however, they have been described as a “no man’s land.” Leftover members of the Islamic militant group Al-Shabaab have attacked international humanitarian workers trying to provide basic services to those living in the camps. For example, a convoy from the World Food Programme was hit by a roadside bomb on April 16, 2017.
  3. This is not the first time a famine has affected the quality of life and poverty rates in Mogadishu. In 2011, a deadly famine raged the Horn of Africa, with Somalia unable to escape its effects. As a result, hundreds of thousands of people moved to Mogadishu to escape the famine’s effects and few have plans to return home. Even though the economy is said to be rapidly growing, most who fled to the city live in settlements and subsist on odd jobs to meet their basic needs. There are concerns that the huge number of young, unemployed people in camps may provide the opportunity for extremism to take hold.
  4. The unemployment rate in Mogadishu in 2016 was 66 percent with 74 percent being women between the ages of 14 to 29. This high unemployment rate, paired with large population growth and the constant threat of violence, has earned Mogadishu the title of the “world’s most fragile city.”
  5. Organizations like the World Food Programme (WFP) work to support some of the most impoverished parts of the population. It reopened its office in Mogadishu in 2015 for the first time in 20 years. Through programs ranging from emergency relief to rehabilitation, the organization helped approximately 4.6 million people in the country in 2020. The WFP is also working with the European Union’s humanitarian aid and civil protection department (ECHO) to provide financial assistance to families in need.
  6. There is concern over disease outbreaks, such as cholera, migrating from the countryside to Mogadishu along with those escaping the famine. In 2017, a severe drought led to an outbreak, with 1,100 deaths among a reported 78,000 cases. The drought conditions forced Somalians to drink contaminated water sources, exacerbating the already prevalent sanitation concerns.
  7. Around 5,000 boys live on the streets of Mogadishu. This group of boys is part of a number of children who have been left in the city to fend for themselves. One boy who was interviewed said his family lost everything in the 2011 famine and as a consequence, he was left because they could no longer provide for him.
  8. The terrorist group Al-Shabaab, Somalia’s Al-Qaeda franchise, occupied the capital for almost a quarter of a century. To this day, they continue to have control over two neighborhoods of the city where it is impossible for police and government forces to enter. The group often attacks the international airport.
  9. Despite progress being made, terror attacks continue to disrupt the lives of millions. In 2020, Somalia reported 239 terror attacks. Though this was down 16 percent from the previous year, terrorism remains a prominent issue in the country. The city of Mogadishu is a hub for many of these terror attacks.
  10. Poverty and climate change are intimately connected in Mogadishu. In 2018, six people died due to some of the heaviest rainfalls the country has seen in over three decades, with more than 750,000 having been affected. The U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq underscored the importance of getting to the root of the consequences climate change has had on poverty

Looking Towards Mogadishu’s Future

While these 10 facts about poverty in Mogadishu suggest a bleak future, that is not entirely the case. Some experts believe that the rapid growth of Mogadishu will actually spur economic transformation as long as it is accompanied by international aid and careful management. Michael Keating, the U.N. special representative in Somalia, argues that “The massive shift into urban areas can be an opportunity. It is the way of the future, it is what needs to be done to build a different economy, a different country. But that needs huge investment.” More support needs to be given to reduce the suffering of the Somalian population.

Georgie Giannopoulos
Photo: Flickr

Urbanizing from Scratch: Ordos Kangbashi, China's Infamous "Ghost City"
Somewhere along the desert steppe of Inner Mongolia, the skyline of Ordos Kangbashi currently perforates an otherwise flat horizon. The city’s superstructures – lustrous monoliths of urban development following a local mining boom – have stood quietly since its 2004 inception, waiting.

China’s New City Project

It is one of the many new city projects that China has put into motion, but is particularly prolific due to the ambition of its size and architecture. Intended to welcome at least a million inhabitants, Ordos Kangbashi boasts countless high-end facilities and tourist hotspots, but its isolated geography and exorbitant property costs initially left it occupied by only thousands. With whole streets empty for years, the metropolis has done little but repose upon an infertile land, shiny and alien.

So the narrative goes. Despite Ordos Kangbashi commonly being referred to as a modern ghost town in the past, recent reports reveal that the city simply needed time. Ordos Kangbashi currently has a growing full-time population of 153,000, with more than 4,500 businesses in operation.

Economic Diversification

A large portion of the city’s residents are country people encouraged to urbanize in order to diversify China’s economy. The rural villages speckled throughout the Ordos region have historically struggled against sandstorms, limited natural resources and poor infrastructure. With the advent of Ordos Kangbashi, locals have the opportunity to be lifted out of poverty by relocating to the city with the acceptance of a hefty compensation package.

The Ordos government’s goal is to build the tax base to ensure the continued success of ex-farmers. With proper urban education, healthcare and targeted programmes, rural transplants will ideally be able to integrate with city life and become self-sufficient.

Opportunities Near or Far

There are some that do not wish to move to the city. Those that elect to remain in their villages are still able to take advantage of the new opportunities available. The Ordos-based Elion Resource Group, for example, has invested more than $4.4 billion into addressing desertification. They, along with local government forces, mobilize by teaching farmers effective agricultural methods, providing healthy crop seeds and promoting eco-restoration as a means of job creation.

“I couldn’t imagine before that I can earn 6,000 yuan ($900) per month,” said Wu Zhihua, 60, a local farmer. By receiving liquorice seedlings and selling the mature plants at market price, Wu generates extra income while the seedlings help fix drifting sand in the environment.

Barren to Growth

Greening the region benefits far-flung desert dwellers and Ordos Kangbashi residents alike. The number of sandstorm occurrences has fallen from 50 in 1988 to only one in 2016. Approximately 102,000 villagers have already been alleviated from poverty as a direct result, and the city is transforming its barren environment from a detriment into a boon.

Ordos Kangbashi’s skyscrapers have developed a unique symbiosis with the surrounding pastoral terrain. Due to the lack of an existing urban population, city resources have been readily allocated to rural-dwellers instead to the benefit of everyone.

It remains to be seen if this will be a successful model for other prebuilt metropolises, but Ordos Kangbashi currently has expelled its ghosts with a rare mutualism — its heartbeat continuing for the foreseeable future.

– Yumi Wilson
Photo: Flickr

Smart Cities in Africa
Interestingly, the common perception of Africa doesn’t tend to include sprawling urban metropolises; rather, a person typically visualizes a past version that is an incomplete picture of Africa today. While the majority of Africans still live in rural areas, the continent is one of the most quickly urbanizing regions in the world. 


By 2050, 2.5 billion more people will live in cities and almost 90 percent of those people will be from either Africa or Asia. Three African cities have already grown beyond a population of 10 million and are formally considered megacities.

More cities will gain that title in the coming decades. This rapid urbanization provides opportunities for many African nations and their citizens, but it also poses serious long-term problems if not handled properly. With these concerns in mind, several countries have begun developing what has become known as smart cities in Africa.

The Problem with Cities

Many African cities have not been as able to cope as well with the massive increase in urbanization as other cities around the world. Perhaps the most obvious problem is housing. More than 60 percent of the continent’s urban population live in informal settlements where poverty and poor living conditions are rampant.

While the very poor are most affected, African cities’ weak infrastructure affects all of their residents. Some common difficulties that these cities face are:

  • Lack of water and electricity due to limited resources, high costs and poor utility management.
  • Poor access to sanitation facilities affects urban and rural Africans alike. Only a third of the population of sub-Saharan Africa has access to proper sanitation.
  • Heavy traffic congestion that leads to massive daily losses of productivity.
  • Difficulty fighting crime and disease, especially in underdeveloped urban areas with high poverty levels.

Developing smart cities in Africa has the potential to help address these problems.

Smart Cities in Africa

Broadly speaking, smart cities aim to use new data-collecting technology and modernized infrastructure to provide safer and more efficient services for their citizens. This can take a variety of forms, many of which have already begun to be used around the continent.

Cape Town is a good example of such a solution. The South African city has partnered with network providers to acquire data from sensors placed around the city. This data helps the city run more effectively in several ways ranging from traffic monitoring to waste management, crime detection and fire response.

Some countries are taking another route toward smart cities by proposing satellite cities — new urban areas built in areas near pre-existing cities. Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and other countries all have such projects in the works. Many of these satellite cities would provide thoroughly modern infrastructure and luxury amenities to attract tech-savvy entrepreneurs.

Smart, Safe and Sustainable

While satellite cities have faced some criticism for being created well out of reach of the millions of poor Africans already living in cities, they are only one facet of a movement toward better urban areas across the continent.

Smart cities in Africa are still in their infancy, but they have an advantage. While many cities in the developed world have to maintain outdated infrastructure, African cities can build updated services and facilities from the ground up.

As African economies continue to grow, these modernized cities will be able to make more sustainable use of resources, respond better to crises and adapt to a world racing forward in the field of technology.

While smart cities will not fix Africa’s urbanization problems overnight, they are certainly a step toward both providing better living conditions and being able to compete with other cities around the world in the global economy.

Joshua Henreckson

Urban and Rural Poverty
Great urbanization over the past several decades has led to the phenomenon coined as “the urbanization of poverty.”  The name generally refers to the migration of poor communities from rural areas into urban centers in the hopes of greater opportunity and increased quality of life.

Urbanization of Poverty

Numerous analyses view this urbanization as a positive for poor populations; urban areas tend to have less poverty and better access to quality jobs, schools, water and sanitation sources, hospitals, etc. Yet, several measures of urban poverty and rural poverty fail to take into account the inflated cost of living and the minutia behind general statistics.

On the whole, the poor are urbanizing at a faster rate than the general population; the share of poverty located in urban areas in developing nations rose 11 percent from 2002-2012. This has compelled some to believe that poverty is now mainly an urban problem.

So, the million-dollar question: what is the difference between urban poverty and rural poverty, and is poverty indeed an urban issue?

Issues in the City

Not only are cities more expensive for basic expenses such as housing, but poor city-dwellers have additional costs in the form of food and water.  Many rural communities grow their own food and collect their own water, which comes with its own costs — predominantly kids dropping out of schools to aid their families.

Urban settlements add these items to their monetary costs, which often leads to increased instances of malnutrition and hunger. This also means that urban families are more vulnerable to pricing shifts. While it seems logical that individuals would be closer to certain resources in urban settings, quality access remains an issue for poor, urban households.  Many city slums have a latrine shared by as many as 50 households.

Such facilities are overused to the point of water source contamination. Less than 10 percent of the population in most African cities have adequate provision for sanitation. As many as 100 million city dwellers in low-income nations have no toilet facilities that they can use or afford, including no access to free public toilets.

Urban Overcrowding

Overcrowding compounds many issues of poverty in urban settings.  A water tap in a rural community may be used by only a hundred persons.  In contrast, an urban tap in a poor area is often drained by over 5,000.

The rapid nature of urbanization has led to squatter towns, slums and project areas that are typically not safe, sanitary or adequate. This overcrowding also makes urban poverty populations more susceptible to decimation due to poor weather or a natural disaster, which will wipe out more people in an urban setting.

In addition to often being shanty, urban housing is also more difficult to sustain. Evictions leave hundreds of thousands desolate and on the streets.  In rural areas, generally, the communities are more tradition based and losing family housing is uncommon.

Urban Poverty and Rural Poverty

Urban poverty and rural poverty share many of the same core issues: convenient access to water and sanitation, housing, food, education and health services. Yet, aid to urban poverty takes on an entirely different form from aid to rural poverty.

The focus of rural aid ought to be on improvements such as education and water access. Urban aid, on the other hand, must take into account growth and sustainability — building quality, affordable housing, creating large-scale water and sanitation systems, ensuring safety from street violence and more.

Tough Calls

While urban poverty has steeply risen, a vast majority of the world’s poor still live in rural areas, with most analyses reporting 75 percent of the poor and others reaching over 80 percent. Thus, while urban poverty perhaps presents a slightly more complex picture, rural poverty remains pervasive.

Additionally, urban poverty is often easier to aid largely due to the crowded areas in comparison to sprawling rural locations. This presents a strange dichotomy for aid organizations: help urban poverty and thus more people per dollar, or help the area with the largest portion of the world’s poor.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Unsplash

Today, cities in Africa are rapidly urbanizing. The population is growing faster than infrastructure is being built, which causes a shortage of sewage and sanitation systems, especially in impoverished areas.

Over 2.6 billion people do not have access to sanitation. Every day, thousands of tons of feces are not disposed of properly, polluting water and spreading diseases among women and children.

Every year, 1.8 million people die from waterborne diarrheal diseases. Ninety percent of these deaths are children under five-years-old.

Clean Team Ghana has made it their mission to fix this sanitation crisis. The company has invented an inexpensive toilet service to help low-income citizens.

“People of all ages, regardless of circumstance, deserve the right to perform their necessary bodily functions in safety, without the risk of spreading or contracting disease. Our mission is to ensure as many people as possible can enjoy that right,” explains the company’s website.

Kumasi, where Clean Team Ghana has focused its efforts, is Ghana’s second-largest city; here, rapid urbanization and development issues are rampant. Unplanned slum areas do not have any type of sewer system. Half of the population of Kumasi uses public toilet blocks.

According to How We Made it in Africa, public toilet blocks are “often over-burdened, poorly maintained and unhygienic. Those that cannot brave the stench would prefer to do their business openly–or in packets that are then thrown into gutters, polluting water supplies and causing diseases such as cholera.”

Families without proper sewage can rent out Clean Team Ghana’s portable toilets, which the company installs and treats three times per week, exchanging the used canister for a fresh one. The dirty canister is treated at a processing site and reused.

One toilet provides service to five to seven people, and only costs $2.50 to install. The service costs a family $8.90 a month for one toilet. Clean Team Ghana offers weekly payment services, as very few customers earn monthly salaries.

“Most of our customers are traders and earn daily sums of money, maybe even weekly sums. So we have account managers who visit these customers at least once a week so they can pay in bits,” said Clean Team Ghana CEO Abigail Aruna.

The toilets are odorless: the company uses chemicals to mask the smell. They do not require water or pipes, only some space.

So far, Clean Team Ghana has installed over 1,000 toilets across Kumasi. The company aims to install 1,500 more by the end of 2015. Clean Team Ghana markets their toilets by going door-to-door in settlements and explaining how the toilet works.

Aruna believes that in the next few years, Clean Team Ghana can install 10,000 toilets in Kumasi. Once they reach 10,000, the company plans to expand to other cities in Ghana.

“Research is ongoing around that. There are regional differences and we will take them into consideration before we expand. The situation in Kumasi is quite different from the situation in Accra or in Tamale, or in other towns,” explained Aruna.

Clean Team Ghana began when the nonprofit Water and Sanitation for the Urban Poor partnered with Unilever, a company that produces cleaning agents. IDEO.org designed the toilets, and at the beginning of 2012, the project was funded by the Stone Family Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Innovative ideas like ours are really necessary in Ghana and other African countries that cannot afford to put adequate sewage systems in place in their towns and cities. So I think the future of Clean Team Ghana and other sanitation companies is very bright–and is a way forward to solve the sanitation issues in Africa for now,” said Aruna.

Margaret Anderson

Sources: How we made it in Africa, Clean Team Toilets
Photo: Core 77


More and more young Africans are picking up their possessions and leaving their rural villages for lives in the big city. And while this influx of migrants is creating a new wealth of potential laborers for Africa’s generally growing economy, the sheer number of new residents is causing housing prices in cities to skyrocket.

According to an article by Gant Daily, a CNN News affiliate, UN-Habitat estimates that by the year 2030, more people in developing regions will live in urban than rural environments. The UN-Habitat report specifically highlighted Sub-Saharan Africa as an affected region.

With so many young people uprooting themselves for city life, it appears to be a good sign that the African economy is growing and more jobs are consistently being created to retain the influx of immigrants. Unfortunately, most major Sub-Saharan economies are facing a serious housing shortage. Some cities, according to a survey by the Ministry of Lands and Housing, are estimated to face a housing deficit of two million units in the next 10 years.

This high demand and low supply has made city slums an even bigger issue than before. And even among nicer accommodations, living and office space is in such high demand that landlords can demand exorbitant prices.

The upwardly mobile youth are not just moving to cities seeking better jobs and improved housing conditions. As the average income of African youth increases, educated and career-focused individuals are moving to cities looking for ways to spend their disposable income. This means that, in addition to an increased demand for additional housing, there is also a demand for better infrastructure and better retail and commercial opportunities, according to an article by AFK Insider.

While the dramatic housing deficit facing rapidly burgeoning African economic centers could be a recipe for disaster, it also presents an excellent economic opportunity for investment in the real estate and development sectors.

According to AFK Insider, Africa as a whole saw a 46% increase in investment in the construction, transportation and energy projects sectors in 2014; Central Africa alone experienced a 117% increase in the value of construction projects.

Investment in constructing additional affordable housing, improving infrastructure and expanding business opportunities stimulates the economy through job expansion and the creation of a wider consumer marketplace. It is a proven trend that, as people’s quality of life improves, they spend more, thereby inject more money into the economy.

Africa’s urbanization boom may soon lead to its largest economic boom in centuries, and to a new and better quality of life for Africa’s poorest.

Gina Lehner

Sources: Gant Daily, AFK Insider
Photo: NEO

Social Divides and Urbanization in Brazil
Brazil has experienced staggering urbanization in the last century with 80% of Brazilians now living in urban areas. Urbanization in Brazil unfolded so rapidly during the 20th century, that by 1950 it attained a level comparable to that of Asia and Africa in 2000. However, this rapid adjustment to urban living has left many of Brazil’s poorest behind.


A History of Urbanization in Brazil


Although a distinctly modern phenomenon, urban social inequality stems from Brazil’s past as a Portuguese colony and its economic history of slavery. Like many other South American colonies, the landed classes controlled Brazilian society and the economy during the colonial era. This aristocracy essentially wielded political power into the late 19th and 20th centuries. With the founding of the First Brazilian Republic in 1899 and until its dissolution in 1988, the right to vote revolved around literacy. By restricting the education of the poorer masses, the Brazilian aristocracy impeded the majority of the population’s political participation.

This enduring trend drastically affected urbanization patterns in Brazil throughout the 20th century. Brazil’s major metropolitan areas grew at an annual rate of 4.5% between 1940 and 1970. This rapid growth accounted for 34% of the country’s national growth. Migrant rural workers accounted for much of this growth, with 43 million Brazilians of rural origin moving to more urban areas. For these millions of rural Brazilians, the transition to urban life did not come easy.

As they attempted to settle in expanding metropolises, the rural poor once again found themselves relegated below the landed elite in a heavily stratified cityscape. While the elite occupied most of the areas with sufficient infrastructure, or nuclear cores, the rural poor resigned themselves to living on the cheaper periphery of the city, further from working opportunities. These areas, called “urban frontiers,” generally bear inadequate living conditions that lead to the growth of slums, insufficient infrastructure, gang violence and environmental issues.

The income disparity between urban frontiers and the nuclear cores of Brazilian cities is shocking. In São Paulo, the largest Brazilian city, the income differential reaches a whopping 65.4% with a 56.1% income differential average across Brazil’s major metropolises. What makes this disparity even more noteworthy is that most of the population growth in Brazilian cities occurs in these significantly poorer areas while the more gentrified areas remain stagnant.

All of this is worsened by the Brazilian housing crisis. Estimates place the housing shortage in the country at around 7 million units, mostly among those earning less than the minimum wage. Yet, Brazil actually has more than enough adequate housing to accommodate this shortage. The only problem is that this housing exists vacant in gentrified urban centers due to speculative real-estate practices. Despite this blatant disparity, real estate investment continues mainly in more wealthy areas where the population is decreasing, instead of where housing is actually needed.

As such, the urban poor are essentially forced to squat on the outskirts of the city. Haunting data from the World Bank attests to this issue. While the formal real estate market annually produces 200,000 to 300,000 properties, it estimates that around 1 million properties spring up each year. In other words, much of the new housing in Brazil is either self-construction or informal, unregulated construction.

Brazil’s urban development has become unsustainable. The neediest areas of its cities are deprived of resources that have been instead focused on stagnant and in some cases empty areas. Yet, for many, this is just the continuation of the historical status quo. As empty houses continue to rise in city centers, impoverished Brazilians will continue to suffer.

– Andrew Logan

Sources: Cities Alliance, University of California, Berkley
Photo: Beyond Intractability

A New Kind of Poverty due to UrbanizationUrbanization is creating a new face for poverty. People migrate to cities for the convenience of resources, proximity to jobs, and the chance to live amidst affluence. This migration, however, is not the case for those living in poverty that are pushed out of their lands in the countryside and made to urbanize. It could be for numerous reasons: a shift from agricultural to industrial sectors, a way to develop local economies by bringing more workforce into the cities or to occupy the rural lands in order to make space for more economic development.

While the goal of urbanization is to create prosperity, the opposite often occurs. Urban areas, compared to rural areas, are homes to extreme wealth disparities because the poor and wealthy are closer together. This closeness inevitably leads to severe discrimination that can influence social makeups, access to public services, or general treatment of separate economically, racially, or geographically different groups.

Urban conflict more so disrupts dense populations because it poses a greater public risk than previously in rural populations. Targeting populations based on geographical areas is also more difficult in cities where people are more mobile with their residency.

The urban poor experience a different set of challenges, mainly due to higher population densities and consequent unequal access to resources. According to The Guardian, urban hazards include low-quality infrastructure, higher risk of disease infestations, pollutants, toxicity, traffic-related injuries, diet-related illnesses due to street food and lower quality of selection, and sensitivity to poor levels in a poor economy. Hunger and malnutrition are more sensitive to economic well being and price fluctuations. The larger competition also negatively affects the share of people in poverty in urban areas versus in rural areas.

So far, 54 percent of the world lives in urban areas. This grew from a 30 percent rate in 1950. Urbanization is predicted to cause the population to rise to 66 percent in 2050. Asia and Africa will likely experience the sharpest rate increase, as their current populations are mostly rural. Today, the two countries’ urban populations are around 40 to 48 percent, but they may become 56 to 64 percent in 2050.

The global rural population is currently at three point four billion but is expected to decline to two point three billion by 2050. Largely in part of Africa and Asia’s transforming urban population in the years to come since now, they house nearly 90 percent of the world’s rural population.

– Lin Sabones

Sources: China.org.cn, The Guardian UN, UNDESA, UNFPA,
Photo: Flickr

Urbanization is the process of moving people from rural areas into urban areas. Organizations like the World Bank have found success in this process all over the world. However, there can be some disadvantages to relocating people from slums to cities. Regardless of the cons, urbanization has improved the lives of many in China, Ghana and Latin America.

One benefit of urbanization is increased access to resources like clean water and food. In African rural areas, mothers walk miles for clean water. The World Bank has directly improved lives in Ghana with labor reallocation; the idea of increasing productivity by managing human capital. Moving people to jobs requiring more productivity has contributed to economic growth in Ghana, as well as increases in income for families who typically work in agriculture.

However, without proper monitoring, urbanization does not always work. According to the World Bank, “if not managed well, [it] can also lead to [the] burgeoning growth of slums, pollution, and crime.” This then raises the question of whether urbanization is really a good idea. Much of the world is becoming more urbanized and the U.N. believes this is a good way to reduce poverty.

The United Nations Population Fund, or UNFPA, recognizes the growth in urban culture and believes it can help solve many problems in developing countries. Although there is a rise of inequality in urban areas, according to UNFPA, “urbanization has the potential to usher in a new era of well-being, resource efficiency and economic growth.”

Urbanization is a controversial idea and another potential solution is rural development. According to the World Bank, “it can be done with complementary rural-urban development policies and actions by governments to facilitate a healthy move toward cities.” Development of rural areas allows people to stay where they are and adopt certain aspects of urban culture, such as increasing access to clean water and food while improving living conditions.

Whether it is urbanization or rural development, it is vital to implement new ways to help people in developing countries as cities and economies grow. The mentioned solutions above are two of many that could help reach the goal of ending poverty by 2030.

– Kimberly Quitzon

Sources: World Bank, Spy Ghana, UNFPA
Photo: Flickr