Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Humanitarian Impact of Urbanisation

Photos:Victoria Hazou/IRIN

Article: Tomorrow's Crises Today: The Humanitarian Impact of Urbanisation - Overview

*The following are Talking Points from the aforementioned article:

1) At present, 3.3 billion people live in urban centers across the globe.

2) The problem is not growth, but unplanned growth. In 2001, 924 million people, or about 31 percent of the world’s urban population, were living in informal settlements or slums, 90 percent of which were located in the developing world.

3) What this translates to is abject poverty, disease, and appalling conditions... Malnutrition is often highest in slums, as unemployment means people are too poor to purchase produce that could be grown on the land.

4) Defining a ‘slum’ and the ‘urban poor’ invariably focuses on what people lack - access to education, social services, employment, safe and affordable water, sanitation and housing, and residential status. In many cases, they live in sub-standard housing, in public spaces, or in squatter settlements near major urban areas.

5) It is generally assumed that urban poverty levels are lower than rural poverty levels, but the absolute number of poor and undernourished in urban areas is increasing. “In general, the locus of poverty is moving to cities … a process now recognized as the ‘urbanization of poverty’,

6) Throughout the 20th century, city growth was largely fuelled by rural to urban migration.

7) As the UN’s 2006/2007 State of the World’s Cities report notes: in Ethiopia, child malnutrition in slums and rural areas is 47 percent and 49 percent respectively, compared with 27 percent in non-slum urban areas

8) “Living in an overcrowded and unsanitary slum,” the report concludes, “is more life-threatening than living in a poor rural village.”

9) Poverty has long been considered a key driver of violent crime. In recent years, however, this relationship has been challenged as too simplistic. A 2004 article on urban violence and insecurity in the journal Environment and Urbanization identifies inequality as a primary driver, noting that “interpretations based on statistical modeling have demonstrated that with regard to national-level data on murder rates, inequality is more influential than poverty, with income inequalities being generally more marked in urban than in rural areas”.

Click here to read the full article!

*Note the abovementioned excerpts are direct quotes from the article and thus all credit and references should be afforded to the authors/sources.

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