Is urbanization the answer to poverty reduction? According to a new report released by The World Bank this week, it very well could be.
The World Bank has released the Global Monitoring Report: Rural-Urban Dynamics and the Millennium Development Goals. The report has found that global poverty rates are lower in cities than in rural areas. Urban centers have a global rate of 11.6 percent whereas the rate is 29.4 percent in rural areas. Additionally, 76 percent of the developing world’s poor live in rural areas. This is a huge discrepancy.
Poverty was not the only rural-urban discrepancy the report found. In South Asia, the report states that in rural areas 28 percent of people have access to sanitation facilities compared to 60 percent in urban areas. Additionally, in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa, infant mortality rates are 10 to 16 percent higher in rural areas than in urban areas, and 21 percent higher in East Asia.
The report is summarizing an important conclusion: urbanization is actually helping people escape the cycle of poverty, and helping countries advance towards completion of the Millennium Development Goals. However, urbanization does come with a caveat. If it is not properly managed, it can lead to the proliferation of slums, pollution and crime. These facts have led the report to call for an integrated strategy to better manage the planning-connecting-financing nexus of urbanization. The lowering of poverty in urban areas could be explained in part by the vast majority of goods and services being produced in cities.
The report found that the smaller the town or settlement, the higher the incidence of poverty as well as less access to MGD resources. This is poignant, as the MGD’s will expire in less than 1,000 days.
There is still a great deal of progress to be made on reducing maternal and child mortality, achieving universal primary education and providing access to basic sanitation facilities. Poverty is a huge problem; it is possible that urbanization and globalization could have a positive impact on reducing it as long as it is carefully managed. This report could provide the final push to motivate countries in the countdown to the expiration of the MGDs.
– Caitlin Zusy
Source: The World Bank
Photo: Tree Hugger