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Africa’s Untapped Nuclear EnergyAfrica’s demand for energy increases every year as its population continues to grow at an enormous rate. As more people are connected to the energy grid every year, the supply of energy must keep pace with the growing demand. To meet the demand, many African nations have invested in nuclear energy to provide clean and nearly limitless energy. Currently, only South Africa has a nuclear reactor, but more nations are planning on taking advantage of Africa’s untapped nuclear energy potential.

Supply and Demand

Africa’s population is rapidly growing, and more Africans are connected to electrical grids every year. As the continent industrializes, energy consumption will continue to grow. Africa’s population is projected to double by the year 2050 and will consequently spur a substantial rise in energy demand. Access to electricity is a requisite for a stable life and economic growth. As such, impoverished Africans face an uphill battle against the vicious cycle of poverty if they do not have access to electricity. Electricity allows people to be more productive at night, and many tech jobs require access to the internet.

To meet the growing energy demand, many African nations are considering turning to nuclear power. Currently, only South Africa has constructed a nuclear power plant to meet the energy demand. South Africa’s power plant in Cape Town provides safe, renewable and clean energy for the people of South Africa. The success of the Cape Town nuclear power plant has led nearly 30 African nations to consider nuclear power. Additionally, South Africa plans to increase its nuclear capacity by 2,500 megawatts by the year 2024. The success of South Africa’s nuclear power plant demonstrates Africa’s untapped nuclear energy that can meet the increasing energy demand. Africa’s quickly growing population requires a diverse array of clean energy sources.

Clean and Reliable

Nuclear energy is a viable solution to Africa’s energy shortage because it is entirely renewable and relatively clean. Africans require access to electricity to escape poverty, and other energy sources are not as consistently reliable. For example, solar panels provide electricity for many people who live off the grid, but they cannot meet large African cities’ energy demand. In accordance with the global trend favoring urbanization, sub-Saharan Africa has one of the highest rates of urbanization in the world. Urban cities require great sums of electricity and require a constant stream of energy that is not disrupted by the weather.

With Africa’s population expected to double by 2050, it is crucial that people have access to electricity that is not dependent on variable conditions. Many nations use hydropower from dams, yet hydropower is vulnerable to drought. Both sunlight and wind energy are subjected to inconsistent weather, whereas nuclear power is consistent and plentiful throughout the year. These characteristics have compelled many nations to consider utilizing Africa’s untapped nuclear energy.

Great Potential

One of the most crucial requisites for escaping poverty is access to consistent electricity. With the world’s economy rapidly modernizing, well-paying jobs now require electricity and internet access. As such, people cannot escape poverty if they do not have access to electricity. Nuclear power is a viable solution to Africa’s energy shortage, and its benefits have compelled many nations to invest in Africa’s untapped nuclear potential.

– Noah Kleinert
Photo: Flickr

homelessness in bangladeshBangladesh, a small country located in South Asia, is the eighth-most populous in the world, home to over 160 million people. It is no surprise that the majority of inhabitants reside in crowded cities; 21 million people live in the capital of Dhaka alone. With a vast population concentrated in such a narrow region, space and resources are in short supply. Almost one in four people live in poverty, and homelessness in Bangladesh is prominent; five million people live without housing and 124 million live in mud houses and slums.

Poverty and Homelessness

Poverty and homelessness have an intertwined relationship; circumstances of poverty — such as debt, lack of education, poor mental and physical health and disability — are underlying causes of homelessness.

The homeless population in Bangladesh, especially women abandoned by their spouses and too poor to provide for themselves, are exposed to many instances of violence, drug abuse and sexual assault. A study conducted in 2009 found that 83% of homeless female respondents were assaulted by their husbands, male police officers and other men in their vicinity. 69% of the male respondents used locally-available drugs, such as heroin, and two-thirds of injecting drug-users shared needles.

Progress

Despite these harsh realities, regional homelessness in Bangladesh has actually improved and poverty rates have dropped over the years. According to the Bangladesh Poverty Assessment conducted by the World Bank Group, the country halved poverty rates since 2000. More than 25 million people were lifted from these conditions.

Under the Bangladesh Awami League’s Ashrayan Project-2, a plan to help the homeless become economically independent, a total of 297,886 families have been rehabilitated. The first two phases of the scheme were successfully completed in 2010 and the final phase is expected to be completed by June 2022.

Rural regions in the country, namely Chittagong, Barisal and Sylhet, have seen most of this decline. They account for 90% of all poverty reduction that occurred from 2010 to 2016. Even despite the cyclones in Bangladesh that account for 70% of all storm surges in the world, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim says that “Bangladesh has adapted to climate threats, putting in place early warning systems, cyclone shelters, evacuation plans, coastal embankments and reforestation schemes.” The remoteness of these rural areas is the ideal grounds to invest in infrastructure and educate the populations there who live each day hand to mouth, wondering what may come tomorrow.

Homelessness Relief: Habitat for Humanity

When it comes to the fight against homelessness, non-governmental organizations such as Habitat for Humanity have provided Bangladeshi people with affordable housing, clean water and safe sanitation, training in construction technology and even disaster mitigation. In Dhaka, Habitat Bangladesh started its first urban project with the revamping of three slums. With help from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the organization helped 9,000 people through housing construction and renovations; this included the construction of water pumps, drainage systems and walkways, as well as bathhouses and community toilets.

Looking Toward the Future

As urbanization takes place, projections point towards more than half of Bangladesh’s poor households living in urban areas by 2030. But this requires adequate housing and transforming more slums into decently habitable homes and communities. The Bangladesh government’s draft of a National Urban Policy aims for sustainable urbanization. The policy visualizes a decentralized urban development; a place where the central and local governments, private sector, civil society and people all have important roles to play. The seventh Five Year Plan proposes allocating resources to address urbanization through the Annual Development Programme, though a feasible urbanization policy is still in the works.

Even further, educating and empowering the populations migrating to and residing in the cities, expanding the female labor workforce, fighting poverty and consistently innovating will help this nation achieve its goal of becoming an upper-middle-income nation by 2021. It is important to continue investing in projects and policies that are helping fight homelessness in Bangladesh; much progress has been made and much is yet to be done.

– Sarah Uddin
Photo: Pixabay

Lesotho is a parliamentary constitutional monarchy in southern Africa. Formerly known as Basutoland, the country was renamed the Kingdom of Lesotho in 1966, after gaining independence from the U.K. Following a period of political instability and turmoil, Lesotho is now at relative peace, and its level of homelessness is low. Even still, homelessness and housing are issues that Lesotho’s government must address.

Effects of Rapid Urbanization

As in many developing countries, homelessness in Lesotho reflects one downside of urbanization and development. Lesotho went through a period of rapid economic growth in the last two decades. From $775 million in 2002, Lesotho’s GDP rose to $2.739 billion in 2018. Lesotho’s population has increased rapidly, as well, growing to more than 2 million in 2018 compared to 837,270 in 1960. Lesotho’s economic growth seems largely a result of its economic ties with South Africa. However, Lesotho’s poverty rate still stands at 49.7%.

Following Lesotho’s economic development, rapid urbanization has contributed to homelessness. According to the World Bank, the urban population in Lesotho rose from 3.512% in 1960 to 28.153% in 2018. This increase means that urban development in Lesotho has proceeded uncontrolled, overcrowded and unplanned.

Shortage of Infrastructure and Housing

According to UN-Habitat, recording Lesotho’s urbanization rate is a challenge. This is partly because different agencies within Lesotho’s government disagree on what constitutes an urban area. The Department of Lands, Surveys and Physical Planning, which is responsible for town and regional planning, defines an urban area as any area that has legal proclamation. On the other hand, the Bureau of Statistics defines an urban area as any administrative district headquarters or other settlement of rapid growth where people engage in non-agricultural activities. Such inconsistencies seem to contribute to unplanned urban expansion in Lesotho, which leads to insufficient infrastructures for water, sanitation, energy resources, transportation and social amenities.

A shortage of formal housing also contributes to homelessness in Lesotho. The Lesotho Housing and Land Development Corporation (LHLDC), a major state-owned developer, is mainly responsible for supplying homes in Lesotho. While LHLDC delivered an estimated 76% of formal housing in Maseru, Lesotho’s capital, U.N.-Habitat notes that LHLDC has not supplied adequate rental housing for low-income residents. In its report on Lesotho’s urban housing, UN-Habitat points out that the housing market in Maseru is saturated with expensive two-bedroom houses. The LHLDC tried to reduce prices by lowering construction standards. However, the organization’s high building costs, along with rising land prices in Maseru, limit LHLDC’s ability to help Lesotho’s homeless.

Help for the Homeless

There are certain organizations working to alleviate homelessness in Lesotho. Habitat for Humanity launched a vulnerable groups housing program in 2001, servicing seven of the country’s ten districts. Primarily, Habitat for Humanity helps build two-room homes to house orphans, the elderly and persons with disabilities. In addition to building homes, the organization educates and trains prospective homeowners on inheritance rights and legal rights, to protect against property grabbing. Meanwhile, AVANI Lesotho Group, a hotel in Maseru, commemorated World Homeless Day in 2016 by providing food for homeless children.

Homelessness in Lesotho is defined by unplanned rapid urbanization and a lack of affordable housing for low-income residents. By addressing the country’s homelessness problem, organizations like Habitat for Humanity and AVANI Lesotho Group are creating hope for a better future for the citizens of Lesotho.

YongJin Yi
Photo: Flickr

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

Tropical Cyclones in Bangladesh Monsoon season in the Bay of Bengal usually lasts from June to September and can be characterized by sudden, violent downpours of torrential rain. These heavy rains are integral to the climate and culture of this part of the world, but can also pose a threat to lives and infrastructure when storms become severe. In the Chittagong Hill Tracts region of Bangladesh, monsoon rains and cyclones can trigger landslides on the steep, uneven ground. These landslides have become increasingly deadly in recent years. Substantial landslides in the second half of the 20th century typically recorded few to no deaths. This changed by the turn of the century: in the 2007 and 2017 landslides, 136 and 170 people died, respectively. Landslides in Bangladesh are becoming deadlier and the government must take measures to prevent further loss of life.

Rapid and Unplanned Urbanization

With an urbanization rate of 3.17 percent, Bangladesh has experienced a large amount of internal migration. People who seek better job and educational opportunities are moving to urban areas. Urbanization itself is not a bad thing, but problems can arise when local governments do not utilize appropriate city planning measures. For example, 21.3 percent of Bangladesh’s urban population lived below the poverty line in 2010, and 62 percent of the urban population lived in slums in 2009. These statistics reflect an inability to accommodate a quick, large influx of people.

In the Chittagong Hill Tracts region, unplanned urbanization can be deadly. People seeking land in the area often end up settling on the hills just outside of urban centers. Building is supposed to be prohibited on these landslide-prone areas, but zoning is typically not enforced and people ignore the warnings. The Department of Energy found that there are about 2,000 families in the area currently at high risk.

Indigenous Displacement and Land Conflict

Land in the Chittagong Hill Tracts has a contentious history. Groups of indigenous people in Bangladesh have long fought for rights and protections that the federal government is reluctant to give. In the 1970s, an indigenous guerilla group launched an insurgency on settlers who were encroaching on their territory. The 1980s saw no more protection for indigenous lands, but a large influx of Bengali settlers moved to the area as part of a government-supported migration effort. Violence has since persisted between landless Bengali settlers building in the hills and indigenous communities who once called the area home.

Indigenous communities in Bangladesh suffer disproportionately from land conflicts and lack of governmental support. It is estimated that about 90,000 indigenous people were displaced as a result of the conflict, with many families setting up temporary structures on the steep and unstable slopes. Amnesty International has called on the Bangladeshi government to be more proactive in recognizing indigenous rights, but concrete progress on the issue remains evasive.

Increased Cost of Building Materials

Because many indigenous communities have lived in the Chittagong Hill Tracks for generations, they have the knowledge necessary to allow them to build homes that are less vulnerable to landslides in Bangladesh. Ideally, homes on these slopes would be stilted so that mud and water can pass underneath without causing damage. The increased cost of lightweight building material like bamboo, however, has recently made this practice much more expensive. When families cannot afford materials to stilt their homes, they are forced to build on the ground and in the path of landslides. These ground-level homes can also make the hills more unstable, as digging increases the amount of loose earth on the slopes.

Increased Storm and Monsoon Intensity

Monsoons have been changing in recent years. Increasingly, rain comes in powerful torrential downpours that may only last a few days but can dump as much water as would previously be recorded over the span of a month. This pattern is likely to increase the frequency of dangerous landslides as water has less time to seep into groundwater deposits.

Cyclones, known in North America as hurricanes, are single storm systems that form over the ocean and carry rain and wind to land along the coast. Only about 5 percent of the world’s tropical cyclones form over the Bay of Bengal. However, out of 10 cyclones that recorded very high loss of life, five were in Bangladesh. This statistic reflects the vulnerability of people living on the exposed hill tracts.

Measures Being Taken

Local governments have recently been more proactive about implementing storm warning and evacuation systems in vulnerable areas. Only 11 people died from landslides last year, which is significantly less than the 170 landslide fatalities in 2017. However, in the Chittagong Hill Tracts district, there are no official storm shelters. This means that during periods of evacuation, government-run buildings such as radio and TV stations must accommodate people fleeing their homes. These buildings sheltered about 4,000 people last year. Official storm shelters would be better equipped to handle the increasing number of people fleeing storm damage.

The Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) is recommending that until more concrete preventative measures can be taken, schools and faith-based organizations should work to prepare and educate communities about the dangers of landslides in Bangladesh. If people living on the slopes of the Chittagong Hill Tracts cannot avoid landslides, they may have to learn how to adapt to them.

– Morgan Johnson
Photo: Flickr

India's Center for Policy ResearchEstablished in 1973, the Center for Policy Research (CPR) is a non-partisan nonprofit think tank designed to produce better public policy that shapes Indian life. Its unique team draws from a diverse set of occupational backgrounds to confront social issues with a multi-dimensional lens. Some highlights include Shyam Divan, Senior Advocate for the Supreme Court of India; Chandrashekhar Dasgupta, former Indian ambassador to the EU and well-known historian and Vinita Bali, former CEO of Britannia Industries Ltd.

India’s Center for Policy Research, located in the heart of Delhi, divides its research into five main categories:

  1. Economic policy
  2. Environmental law and governance
  3. International relations and security
  4. Law regulation and the state
  5. Urbanization.

The following will breakdown these subgroups in an attempt to decipher just exactly what the organization supports.

Economic Policy

The think tank recognizes the necessity for growth and productivity for the maintenance of a healthy economy. What makes it stellar is its commitment to equity

For example, one of their most recent projects involves the analysis of India’s “Special Economic Zones” and who truly benefits from their implementation. The organization’s non-partisan and nonprofit approach liberates them from the bias of special interest groups that oftentimes heavily influence the outcomes of these “case studies.”

These sentiments are echoed in another of the group’s economic policy projects. It is a campaign to officially define the characteristics of the country’s middle class. This could serve as a critical step in enhancing the rights of millions of Indian citizens.

Environmental Law and Governance

The goal of India’s Center for Policy Research is to establish a clean and sustainable environment. To address this, the group focuses their programs on pivotal topics such as Delhi’s air pollution, water use in rainfed agriculture, overall water policy and state action plans on environment sustainability.

International Relations and Security

The CPR’s international relations and security division is more in tune with typical slants on the subject than the other divisions. But, it still has some standout components. In the quest to understand India’s past and present role in the shifting global order, the think tank vows to research international relations from traditional and alternative perspectives. This aspect is very important as it deviates from the usual one-dimensional historical viewpoint.

Law, Regulation and the State

This sector of the CPR delivers a sort of institutional examination of the country of India. The purpose is to identify the relationship between laws, institutions and Indian life. It consciously aims to figure out the implications of these entities on basic rights such as land and intellectual property.

This category unites the others to land rights and dialogues on Indian politics. The hallmark project in this section is labeled “Balancing Religious Accommodation and Human Rights in Constitutional Frameworks.” This project is especially important because it targets issues with the country’s constitution that suppress rights, providing a direct opportunity to rework the country’s unequal beginnings.

Urbanization

This final subset is focuses on the rapid effects of urbanization currently taking place in India. The process of urbanization comes with a range of different challenges such as personal issues with governance and citizenship, to material issues regarding infrastructure. Because of this, urbanization holds a very multifaceted array of projects. These aim to work in unison to uncover the connection with urbanization and its effect on how people engage with the state.

Overall, India’s Center for Policy Research is tackling many different issues and challenges that India faces today. If it helps enact effective policies in its five focused areas, it could help boost India’s already growing economy and even eliminate its national poverty.

– Liam Manion
Photo: Flickr

Urbanization in India

India is a country in the midst of huge changes. As a developing nation with a GDP ranked 7th globally and a population of 1.3 billion people, India has seen a massive amount of improvements in recent years. However, as the nation’s population continues to expand, India suffers from overpopulation in metropolitan areas, a dynamic known as urbanization.

Urbanization in India affects the nation’s economy and quality of life, but most of all, this process harms poor individuals living in slums. Despite the negative aspects of urbanization, there are several non-governmental organizations in India providing relief and hope for those living in these areas of abject poverty.

The Facts

Slums in India commonly share the following characteristics:

  1. Lack of access to running water sanitation, adequate shelter, and medicine
  2. A poor population isolated by socioeconomic status and/or metropolitan developments that force slum residents into densely concentrated living conditions
  3. A high population growth rate, despite negative factors that decrease life expectancy
  4. A high percentage of young people, i.e. New Delhi where 47 percent of slum residents are under 15 years of age
  5. The presence of child labor; in India, 23 million children, ages 5-14, are believed to be active in the workforce illegally

The Reality of Urbanization

In India, urban slums are home to the poorest living in the cities. The abject poverty present in these locations gives little opportunity for individuals and families to improve their quality of life. Rapid growth in metropolitan areas tends to underutilize the amount of space available in a city, and slums are often isolated both financially and geographically from the progress being made across India.

Despite the low quality of life present in slums, the population of Indians living in slums continues to increase annually. This is due to the fact that many Indians are leaving rural villages to seek better paying jobs in larger cities. Every minute, 30 Indians move from a rural area to a city. However, those leaving rural areas often do not have financial freedom or the education that allows them to gain higher wages, leaving them no choice but to live in India’s many slums.

Those living in slums often find themselves facing religious persecution. In India, Muslims often face the brunt of this discrimination. They are denied housing or jobs because of their religious beliefs, offering little chance for them to leave the slums.

NGO’s Alleviating Urban Poverty

There are several non-governmental organizations across India seeking to alleviate the suffering of those living in urban slums.

  1. Asha: This organization provides medical training for women living in the slums of Delhi. These trained individuals can provide aid for their community members and watch over infants as well as the sick and elderly. Asha also funds medical facilities in slums, where residents can seek affordable treatment for their ailments. In addition, Asha cooperates with India’s Ministry of Finance in order to allow slum residents the ability to apply for low interest loans that help them improve their lives.
  2. Kriti Social Initiatives: This NGO helps to empower women by providing them with the opportunity to improve their lives and the lives of their family members. Working within five interconnected slums with over 4,000 households, Kriti has helped women find jobs and has provided scholarships to over 300 children in the Film Nagar area.
  3. Sammaan Foundation: The Sammaan Foundation campaigns to improve conditions for individuals working low-income jobs, mainly rickshaw drivers and street vendors in Kishanganj and the Araria districts of Bihar.

As the amount of Indians living in slums continues to rise, the effects of urbanization in India prove to be a challenge and a benefit for this developing nation. If the divide between the wealthy and poor can be diminished both socially and geographically, then the vast improvements taking place will be enjoyed by all Indians.

–  Jason Crosby

 
Photo: Flickr

Comparing Urban Poverty 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

poverty and overcrowding
The world is experiencing rapid population growth and urbanization. Advances in medicine have allowed for increased life expectancy as well as decreased infant mortality, while birth rates have largely remained unchanged. This combination of circumstances has lead to great growth; between 1999 and 2011, the population increased by nearly one billion people.

The population increase has led to rapid urbanization. People migrate to cities with the promise of economic or educational opportunity, technological advancement and access to health care. It is estimated that by 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas.

This urbanization of cities that are neither prepared nor equipped to deal with overcrowding places strain on both natural and manmade resources alike. The following is a list of five cities suffering from both poverty and overcrowding.

Five Major Cities Dealing With Poverty and Overcrowding

  1. Mumbai, India: With a population density of 171.9 people per square mile, India is notorious for overcrowding. Mumbai is no exception, with a population near 23 million and a population density of almost 70,000 people per square mile.Mumbai serves as India’s commercial hub and is home to the Bollywood industry, making it prone to migration. Yet, those with hopes of Bollywood often end up in prostitution or organized crime. The population has doubled in 25 years, leading to many slum neighborhoods.In fact, half of the population of Mumbai lives in overcrowded, unsanitary slums that comprise only eight percent of the city’s geographic area. Although great wealth exists throughout Mumbai, poverty and overcrowding continue to increase.
  1. Dhaka, Bangladesh: Being named the most densely populated city in the world in 2015, Dhaka suffers from overcrowding and poverty alike. It has also been named to lists of least livable cities and fastest growing cities.Its population is over 18 million, with a density of 114,300 people per square mile. Roughly one-third of Dhaka’s residents live in poverty, with two million inhabiting slums or without any form of shelter.
  1. Lagos, Nigeria: Lagos is Africa’s fastest growing city. In 2017, the population was 21 million; the U.N. predicts that this number will rise to over 24 million by 2030.Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and a lagoon, Lagos is Nigeria’s commercial capital. Yet, 300,000 people live in slum neighborhoods and make a living by fishing out of hand-built canoes.  One-fifth of the city’s residents live in poverty.The slum houses are fashioned from scrap-metal and elevated on stilts to protect against flooding. There is little access to clean water, electricity or quality education. The majority of slums are built along the coast, causing friction with the wealthy as well as the government, which has evicted many communities on faulty logic in order to seize the land.
  1. Manila, Philippines: Manila has a population of 1.7 million and a land area of less than 10 square miles, leading to a high population density of over 170,000 people per square mile. Manila serves as the Philippines capital and home of its banking and commerce industries.In Manila, 600,000 people live in slum districts, which are ridden with disease and malnutrition. Many kids do not attend school, as parents are often forced to choose between feeding the family or sending the kids to school.
  1. Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia: Ulaanbaatar boasts the highest population density on this list, with over 760,000 people per square mile. The influx in population resulted in unplanned neighborhoods known as “ger” areas, which house 60 percent of Ulaanbaatar’s population but are vulnerable to natural disasters and lack water and sanitation sources as well as electricity.A number of expensive apartment buildings mark the city’s skyline, yet many of these buildings remain empty due to the high cost of living. The government intervention has tended to benefit the upper-income subgroups, rather than those living in poverty.

Poverty and overcrowding are endlessly entwined. Rather than placing a halt on migration and urbanization as many cities have attempted, lack of affordable housing, quality water and sanitation facilities, education opportunity and food shortages ought to be addressed. Cities must respond to the growing demands that come with overcrowding in order to help alleviate poverty and decrease hardship.

– Jessie Serody
Photo: Flickr

UrbanizationSince 2013, the U.N. has celebrated October 31 as World Cities Day in support of global urbanization and sustainable urban development. This year’s theme of “Innovative Governance, Open Cities” highlights the important role of urbanization as a source of global development and social inclusion. Urbanization in developing countries contributes to poverty reduction, access to sanitation facilities and education equality if managed correctly.

Urbanization is the result of an increase in population in urban areas. Urban areas differ from rural areas due to numerical and occupational differences in population. For the most part, urban areas have more inhabitants with more industrial professions than the less populated, more agriculture-centric rural areas. Each country sets certain criteria to distinguish urban areas; “some countries define any place with a population of 2,500 or more as urban; others set a minimum of 20,000.”

 

These six numbers represent urban development in the world:

  • 54.5 percent
    In 2016, more than half of the world’s population resided in urban areas. From 30 percent in 1950, the urban population of the world has grown rapidly. An estimated 54.5 percent of the globe now resides in urban agglomerates. By 2030, 60 percent of the world is expected to reside in urban areas.
  • 33.2 million
    The biggest city in the world today, Tokyo, has a population of 33.2 million. Tokyo’s high population, over 10 million, qualifies the city as a megacity. In 1970, Tokyo and New York were the only megacities in the world. Today, Tokyo is one of 23 megacities, including 13 in Asia, four in Latin America and two each in Africa, Europe and North America.
  • $600 million
    UN-Habitat has set aside $600 million to focus exclusively on urbanization issues, including “growth of slums, inadequate and out of date infrastructure and escalating poverty and unemployment.” While urbanization brings many positive changes, the related potential for dislocation and destabilization is the focus of the UN-Habitat for a better urban future.
  • 99 percent
    According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies 2015 report, “nearly 99 percent of urbanization between now and 2050 will take place in the developing world.” The report maps out urbanization as an economic opportunity for donors of developing nations, as long as urban challenges are addressed.
  • 80 percent
    In 2013, the World Bank reported that over 80 percent of global goods and services are produced in cities. Just the year before, “large cities made up 33 percent of the world’s global population, but produced more than 55 percent of all global economic output.” The amount of goods and services produced in cities exceeds those produced elsewhere in the world.
  • 82 percent
    The most urbanized region in the world is Northern America, with 82 percent urbanization, according to the U.N. Latin America and the Caribbean follow with 80 percent urbanization and Europe with 73 percent urbanization. Africa and Asia are urbanizing faster than any other region. While they are mostly rural now, Africa and Asia are projected to become 56 and 64 percent urban respectively by 2050.

Urbanization is spreading across the world at a growing pace. If managed properly, urbanization in developing countries can help lift many people out of poverty by providing better access to jobs, education and services. Supporting this goal is a worldwide effort.

Eliza Gresh

Photo: Flickr