Urbanization and its effect on third world living conditions
Urbanization is the spreading of cities into less populated agricultural areas. Most people would not think that this is necessarily a problem. They would say that it is good that the developing countries were becoming more developed. With urbanization comes factories and more jobs, so the people can make more money and be happier. Right? The problem is that these people must sacrifice their traditional lifestyles, for this new Urbanism(the way of life, attitudes, values, and patterns of behavior fostered by urban settings Knox 234). A lot of these people dont choose this lifestyle- they are forced into it. Because there is a growing demand for natural resources in the core countries, the semi periphery and periphery countries (where many of the resources are) get exploited. The civilized world enters the other countries, buys land from the government and then forces the people who are on that land off of it. These people then move to the cities because they have nowhere else to go. Once they get to the city they are lucky to find a job. Sometimes these jobs pay as little as 80 American dollars a year and can barely support a family. As a result many turn to crime or prostitution to make ends meet. Our worst poverty is generally better than the average people in these third world cities.
The people in these cities lack not only those things that are necessary to sustain life- such as food, clean water and adequate sewage. But they also lack those things that we consider to be essential to life such as electricity, running water, and education, forget any of the things that we just have to enjoy, like cars clothes candy drugs television and entertainment. Eventually large slums develop around or inside of the cities, in these slums; large groups of poor and uneducated people end up living together in poverty. The World Bank met in 1999 to address these problems; in their report they write Hundreds of millions of urban poor in the developing and transitional world have few options but to live in squalid, unsafe environments where they face multiple threats to their health and security. Slums and squatter settlements lack the most basic infrastructure and services. Their populations are marginalized and largely disenfranchised. They are exposed to disease, crime and vulnerable to natural disasters. Slums and squatter settlements are growing at alarming rates, projected to double in 25 years So it is projected that the amount of people living in these slums will double, as it stand right now there are a billion poor people in the world, 750,000,000 of which live in urban areas, 750 million people living without adequate shelter and basic services (UN habitat, pg 1)
So just how bad are these areas? To quote the World Bank meeting again Slums are neglected parts of cities where housing and living conditions are appallingly poor. Slums range from high density, squalid central city tenements to spontaneous squatter settlements without legal recognition or rights, sprawling at the edge of cities. Some are more than fifty years old, some are land invasions underway. Some have various namesthey do not have:
* Basic municipal services-water, sanitation, waste collection, storm drainage, street lighting, paved footpaths, or roads for emergency access
* Schools and clinics within easy reach, or safe areas for children to play
*Places for the community to meet and socialize
It also went on to say that they are only getting worse.
Urbanization causes this poverty. Previous to urbanization these peoples were fine, they might have lived under conditions that we deemed poor but they still survived and could provide for the families that they made. Seems to me that whats really going on is that the core countries need resources. We need oil so we can drive, we need coal so we can have nice warm houses, and we need a lot of different things. We need cheap clothes and cheap food and cheaper everything. So we exploit these countries resources, whether it is manpower or some natural resource that they possess and we think we need. We do not end up having to see the negative repercussions of these actions. We complain when things are too expensive but that is about all we have to complain about. If some people have a lot then others have to have a little. Everyone cannot have all of the supposed niceties of life. But if the developed world is going to cause these problems they need to work to fix these problems. This is what the World Bank meeting was all about, upgrading slums. All of these people have money they can sit around and talk all day about the problems of poverty; they can make action plans to be implemented. But where will the money come from? Their pockets. I doubt it. They expect the countries that they are exploiting to somehow come up with the money to implement these wonderful programs that they have set up. Their plan consists of slum upgrading which means this-Slum upgrading consists of physical, social, economic, and organizational and environmental improvements undertaken cooperatively and locally among citizens, community groups, businesses and local authorities. Actions typically include:
*Installing or improving basic infrastructure, e.g. water reticulation, sanitation/waste collection, and rehabilitation of circulation, storm drainage and flood prevention, electricity, security lighting, and public telephones
*Removal or mitigation of environmental hazards
*Providing incentives for community management and maintenance
*Constructing or rehabilitating community facilities such as nurseries, health posts, community open space
*Regulating size of tenure
So basically they propose to fix all of the problems that they state at an earlier time in the report. But they require local governments to pay for the majority of the cost. If areas are so poor that the majority of the people in them can barely find food; where will the money come from?
Ive concluded that poverty in urban settings is largely due to the pressure from core countries that is put on the periphery and semi-periphery countries to give up their resources. If they dont give in to Pressure from the core countries then they are called radical nationalists (from class discussion) they are stripped of all of their power by a far superior military then theirs, governments are replaced by better more core friendly people (examples- the Belgian Congo in the 1960s, Panama and Teddy Roosevelt). In order to make the people in third world countries something more than low-wage slave labor, something must change. I believe that the problem is forced urbanization. If the core countries were not so worried about the precious resources in the less developed countries they would not deem it necessary to force people off of it. If people were not forced off the land, into the city, the cities would grow at a natural rate. When Urbanization occurs at a natural rate (the United States) Poverty is present but not as magnified.
Truth is that these problems cannot be fixed by anyone. If there are people that have a lot then there are going to be people who have a little. These rules are written in the very laws of nature. The governing powers (companies, world bank, tri-lateral commission) think that if they can just raise these people up to a little bit higher living standards than they will be o.k. But the more you give people, the more they want, its just human nature.
1.World Bank Group. cities alliance for cities without slums, action plan for moving and upgrading slums. Annual meeting.1999 No authors were given
2. United nations human settlements program. urbanization, facts and figures New York, 6-8 of june 2001
3. another united nations human settlement report, no author no date
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