Urban Envinronments in Third World Countries

Topics: City, Africa, Urban area Pages: 15 (5056 words) Published: October 2, 2009
The urban environment impact on human health with particular emphasis on cities in developing countries.

The city may be looked at as a story, pattern of relations between human groups, a production and distribution space, a field of physical force, a set of linked decisions, or an arena of conflict (Lynch, 1981). Simeone (2005) argues that urban Africans have long made lives that have worked. There has been an astute capacity to use thickening fields of social relations, however, disordered they may be, to make the city life viable. He viewed the city as a laboratory of change rather than as simply an embodiment of accommodation, social engineering or the spatial fix of economic growth.

Environment refers to objects or/ and circumstances that influences, impacts, affects and shape on human physical, mental spiritual and social wellbeing. The urban environment consists of the political, social, economic, technological, educational, human resources and legal or statutory framework environments. The urban context gives rise to high risk factors for and rates of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancers and coronary heart disease. Risk factors associated with this group of diseases include smoking, alcohol consumption, increased intake of fat and reduced intake of fibre, lack of exercise, and inhalation of potentially toxic pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and suspended particulate matter.

Most urban areas in developing countries have experienced phenomenal growth. Urbanisation in third world countries is occurring under more difficult circumstances compared to what happened in developed countries. El Sammani etal (1989), suggested that the possible explanation for the terrible conditions found in some third world urban areas is that rural-urban migration is so massive as to make it impossible for cities to cope with demands for the various services. Rural-urban migration is accelerated by war and by urban-biased development in most sub-Saharan countries. Lynch (1981) argued that cities are too far beyond our control and affect too many cultural variations. There is massive rural-urban migration, poor planning and ineffective development control, weak urban institutions, and inadequate financial resources in most economies of third world countries. Some third world countries are poor, averagely low on some income scale, but some suffer in addition from being very small and therefore unable, for certain forms of production, to achieve economies of scale or to provide an adequate domestic market. This, coupled with rapid urbanisation has led to urban area environments leading to serios impact on health.

Growth of urban areas in sub- Saharan countries
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is urbanizing faster than any other continent. Though SSA has only recently started its urban transition, the pace is such that it can expect an urban majority by around 2030 (UN-Habitat, 2009). In 2001, only Congo, Djibouti, Gabon, Mauritania and South Africa had urban majorities; but by the end of the current decade, no less than nine SSA nations will pass the 50 per cent urban mark (ibid). In some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, rates of urbanization exceed 4 to 5 per cent per annum. These rates are close to those of Western cities at the end of the 19th century, with the same associated problems of high child mortality, low life expectancy and low literacy. (ibid). Beier (1976) also argues that while Europe was urbanising, national population growth rates were typically around 0.5 percent a year. In contrast, the rates of developing countries to day are usually between 2.5 and 3.0 percent per year. These much higher growth rates have resulted in large absolute population movements to cities and larger natural population increases within cities. Consequently it resulted in urbanisation which cannot be supported by the social systems and natural resources as asserted by Brown L....

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