According to the World Bank, by 2050, when the urban population will more than double, 7 out of 10 people in the world will live in cities. Urban people change their environment through different consumption patterns of resources such as food, energy, water, and land. So, how could this urban rise affect the development of countries in the long term?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of the urban population rise for the international development sector?
“With 70% of the population in urban agglomeration by 2050, the international development sector would find it easy to look at various urban utilities like housing, water, electricity, telecom, transport, schooling, and health, and park facilities holistically and plan, allocate funds and implement this effectively to generate seamless gains across utilities as urban agglomeration can provide economies of scale in developmental projects. On the other side, when the urban boundaries and population continue to burgeon in an urban agglomeration, the urban utilities created for people may become unmanageable and result in a big shortfall in the utilities and untold misery for the people. In addition to this, the international development sector would have to address issues such as reduced green space, more emissions, air, and noise pollution and cramped space in office and residential areas, a lack of natural air and sunlight in residential spaces, and even in the locality, overflowing drainage system, and floods. The ideal urban agglomeration may be about 2 million to 6 million and may not be more.”
“Urbanization is a global trend reflecting the growing population of the world. The urban populations of less-developed countries are currently increasing at a faster rate than those of more-developed countries. Urbanization results from both a natural increase in the population and rural to urban migration. People migrate to towns and cities in hope of gaining a better standard of living. They are influenced by pull factors that attract them to urban life, and push factors that make them dissatisfied with rural living. Urban living is associated with better employment and education opportunities, better health, greater access to social services, and opportunities for social and cultural activities. At the same time, uncontrolled migration and rapid urban growth are associated with increasing urban poverty and inequality and rises in slum and squatter populations. These people usually have inadequate water supply and sanitation services. Urbanization affects the physical environment through the impact of the number of people, their activities, and the increased demands on resources. Urbanization has negative consequences on health due mainly to pollution and overcrowded living conditions. It can also put added pressure on food supply systems. The pressures of urban living may lead to crime and other consequences of social deprivation.”
“The influx of populations into cities is informed by push factors such as limited jobs in rural areas, reduced agro-production as lands become more subdivided into economically unviable sizes, conflicts due to the struggle for dwindling resources. With pull factors like economic, industrial, social, and technological opportunities, cities will continue to attract more populations leading to the expected 70% of the global population being urban by 2050. For the international development sector, this will bring about the need to promote urban socio-spatial justice with respect to accessibility to public goods such as decent housing, health, and quality education. One critical role of the international development in cities will be protecting the urban poor as far as spatial justice is concerned since the urban marginalized population ends up settling in vulnerable areas such as flood plains, riparian reserves, and unstable land prone to landslides. Moreover, promoting coping and adaptive capacities of these people will be key beside the desire for climate-proofing all urban infrastructure. These measures will call for increased funding from the international development sector calling for accelerated funds to be mobilized in cities amidst the many competing financial needs experienced such as climate/political refugees and gender challenges in the Global South”.
“Rapid urban population growth which is presently being experienced in many cities around the world is a result of high migration, a decline in mortality due to improved diet and health care systems, and high fertility characteristic of cities in developing nations. The benefits include an increased labor force which stimulates the growth of the urban economy, the improvement of physical infrastructure, and improved lifestyles compared to rural areas. The challenges include a deteriorating quality of services (for example housing, healthcare, and education), increased urban poverty, environmental degradation through the encroachment of developments on natural resources such as wetlands, forest reserves, and other blue-green infrastructure, and increased pressure on sanitation, solid waste, and transport infrastructure. To control rapid urban population growth, there is a need to create more social-economic opportunities in rural areas as we build smart, sustainable, and resilient cities to meet the needs of the surging population”.
“In the context of pressing global challenges such as the pandemic, climate change, and deepening inequalities, urbanization presents both benefits and challenges for global development. Urban centres have been associated with improvements in livelihood opportunities, education, access to health services, increased gender equality, and in national economic and social systems (economic growth and social change). Living in a city can provide better access to healthcare, education, and opportunities for innovation, connectivity, and collaboration. However, the inverse is also true. Rapid unplanned rises in urban populations create challenges for urban governance, planners, and those living in cities in terms of adequate employment, housing, transport, infrastructure, and basic services provisions. Poverty, social instability, pollution, and environmental degradation are also on the rise in many cities. With anecdotal evidence of people moving from urban areas to rural areas during the pandemic, this nuanced situation of the advantages and disadvantages of urbanization and the extent of this urban-rural shift have yet to be established and fully understood. Nevertheless, rapid urbanization as a marked phenomenon in the global south requires urgent attention from the international development community to harness the advantages and mitigate the disadvantages”.
“As stated by the World Bank, I believe cities are the engines of economic growth. Particularly since the mid-20th century, urbanization has been accompanied with significant economic growth across the globe. However, this “engine” doesn’t provide the same level of economic growth anymore due to several crises including climate, migration, pandemics, poverty, etc. The type and characteristics of this “engine” should be redefined for its performance with respect to socio-economic development as well as the livability of both in urban and rural areas. If we use the same “engine” metaphor to describe the future of urbanization, the urbanization should be a catalyst for a clean-fueled mass-transit vehicle rather than the diesel engine of a private car. Only in this scenario would it serve equally for all with a low or zero carbon emission. For this transformation there is huge potential for new research and working areas for international development specialists, but with a special focus on a multi-sectoral approach. Both the development potential and the problems of urban areas became more sophisticated and interdependent, so single sector approaches will not be sufficient for the international development sector. Multi-sectoral approach will have a potential impact on both the quality and quantity of working areas and tasks.”
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