More Urban Less Poor
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More Urban Less Poor

An Introduction to Urban Development and Management

Goran Tannerfeldt, Per Ljung

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eBook - ePub

More Urban Less Poor

An Introduction to Urban Development and Management

Goran Tannerfeldt, Per Ljung

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About This Book

A world more urban...
The world is undergoing massive urbanization, and is projected to increase from three to over four billion city dwellers, mostly in the developing world, within 15 years. This historic shift is producing dramatic effects on human well-being and the environment.

...but less poor
Unplanned shanty-towns without basic services are not an inevitable consequence of urbanization and slums are not explained by poverty alone. Urban misery also stems from misguided policies, inappropriate legal frameworks, dysfunctional markets, poor governance, and not least, lack of political will.
Urbanization and economic development go hand-in-hand and the productivity of the urban economy can and should benefit everyone. Living conditions for the urban poor can be dramatically improved with proper solutions, backed by decisive, concerted action.

More Urban - Less Poor brings order to the complex and important field of urban development in developing and transitional countries. Written in an accessible style, the book examines how cities grow, their economic development, urban poverty, housing and environmental problems. It also examines how to face these challenges through governance and management of urban growth, the finance and delivery of services, and finding a role for development cooperation. This is essential reading for development professionals, researchers, students and others working on any facet of urban development and management in our rapidly urbanizing world.

Published with SIDA

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The majority of the world's population will soon live in urban areas – this is true for developing countries as well as for the developed world. Most of the world's population growth will take place in the urban areas of poor countries.

Urban growth continues

Most people will soon live in urban areas

Urbanization is not a new phenomenon. Babylon (600–400 BC) had an estimated population of 350 000, Rome (150 BC–350 AD) reached 1.1 million inhabitants and the population of Angkor (900–1100 AD) in present Cambodia was 1.5 million (Schneider, 1960).
World-wide urbanization, however, belongs to the 20th and 21st century. While the developed world was already highly urbanized by the 1960s, most developing countries were just starting the process.
The urban population in developing countries will soon surpass the rural population according to UN statistics and projections.
By about 1900, Great Britain was the first country with more people living in urban than in rural areas. Parts of Latin America followed and have been more urbanized than many European countries since the first half of the 20th century. Over 90 per cent of the population of Argentina and Uruguay for instance, now live in urban areas compared to 83 per cent in a country like Sweden. At the other end of the scale some Sub-Saharan countries have a low urbanization level.
The population increase almost entirely takes place in urban areas. Soon the rural population will start to decrease according to UN projections.
According to UN data more than half of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2007, and ten years later this will also be true for the less developed countries. Even in Africa, many countries will soon be predominately urban.
Since the beginning of the 1970s the rate of population growth in rural areas has been falling. In the more developed regions and in parts of Latin America the rural population started to decrease in absolute numbers in the 1950s. Some 65 years later this will also happen in less developed countries. The rural population in several African countries is likely to continue growing slowly beyond 2030, but the devastating impact of AIDS could lead to a decrease even there.
Box 1: Urbanization and urban growth
Urbanization and urban growth are two distinct concepts.
Urbanization here means the transition process from a rural to an urban society, where the proportion of the total population living in urban centres increases while the proportion living in rural areas decreases.* This urbanization is an effect of rural-urban migration, but is also due to other demographic factors. These are discussed below under ‘Understanding urbanization’, where the economic and social reasons behind the process are described.
Urban growth here means the growth of the urban population and not the geographical expansion of urban centres – although this normally is a consequence. In-migration is one reason for urban growth, but natural population increase is a more important factor.
Most cities in developing countries experience high rates of both natural population growth and migration. The combined effect is very rapid urban growth.
* See Annexes, Definitions.
Future growth of the world's population will almost entirely take place in the urban areas as shown in Figure 2, and it is mainly in the cities and towns of the less developed regions where these people will live.

Unprecedented urban growth in developing countries

Now, in the beginning of the 21st century, the average yearly urban growth rate in the least developed countries is 4.3 per cent, but some of these countries experience rates of 6 per cent and above. Individual urban centres in developing countries could have much higher rates. Some large cities saw compound annual growth of 7–10 per cent for the second half of the 1900s (Annexes, Table A10, p 177).
Same urbanization pattern but different time lag. The graph shows the urbanization level between 1960 and 2002 for developing countries at three income levels. In 2002 the low-income countries had the same urbanization level as lower middle income countries 30 years earlier. In 2002, the lower middle income countries were as urbanized as upper middle income countries were in 1960.
The increase of the urban population in the developing world is striking (Tables A1, p 165 and A6, p 172). Between 1985 and 2003 the urban population of these countries increased from 1.2 to 2.1 billion and is expected to reach 3.2 billion in 15 years time. Migration rates do not differ much from Europe, but the higher rate of natural population increase makes urban growth in the developing countries unprecedented. (The growth rate of a city like Berlin, for example, never exceeded 4 per cent even during its peak.) Urbanization is a fundamental transformation of society, with far-reaching economic, social, cultural and political consequences. To manage rapid urban growth is a major challenge – especially for poor countries with a weak institutional framework.
In view of the magnitude and implications of this ongoing change it is surprising that the international donor community has only given it limited attention.

Regional differentials

Behind global figures there are important differences between regions and countries and also within countries and cities.
Tables A46 (Annexes pp 168–173) show the urbanization level and the urban growth for a number of developing countries. Tables A13 (pp 165–167) give this information for major areas and regions.
Regional distribution of the world's urban population in 1950 and in 2000. Europe and North America taken together now account for less than 30 per cent of the world's urban population, a decline from well over 50 per cent in 1950. Soon half of the world's urban residents will be in Asia.
Latin America is most urbanized
Latin America is the most urbanized of the four regions. More than three-quarters of the people live in urban areas. In South America the Figure is 81 per cent and in Central America 69 per cent. The urban growth rate in Latin America as a whole has slowed down and is under 2 per cent today. However, in poor countries like Nicaragua, Honduras and Bolivia the urban growth rate is higher – especially for the bigger cities.
© Pietro Cenini / PHOENIX
Since the 1980s the entire population increase of the region has occurred in urban areas, and the rural population has decreased.
Asia – soon one and a half billion urban people
Asia, with more than 1.4 billion people living in cities and towns, has almost 50 per cent of the world's urban population. The urbanization level is close to 40 per cent and the average annual urban growth is 2.5 per cent. In many countries the rural population has already started to decrease, and by 2015 this will be true for Asia as a whole – a remarkable shift. Part of the region has enjoyed strong economic growth and reduced poverty, but Asia also has the largest slum population in the world – more than half a billion.3 Air and water pollution are serious and the environment is deteriorating in most urban areas.
Some countries in Asia are still predominantly rural – Laos, Cambodia and Bangladesh, for example – but these countries have high annual rates of urban growth: 4.6, 5.5 and 3.5 per cent respectively.
Urbanization is fastest in Africa.
As for Asia, the level of urbanization in Africa is almost 40 per cent, but with a much smaller urban population (0.3 billion). Sub-Saharan Africa – except for Southern Africa – is the region with the fastest growing urban population. Several countries have an annual urban growth rate of more than 5 per cent, but census data are often old so statistics and projections are uncertain. In the past, UN projections based on old data tended to overestimate future urban growth. In parts of Africa the HIV/AIDS epidemic is likely to slow down the process of urbanization and urban population growth.
In Africa there are large variations. At one extreme we find Southern Africa with an urbanization level of 54 per cent and at the other, Eastern Africa with only 26 per cent.
Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Malawi, Rwanda and Burundi are among the poorest countries in Africa and still have more than 80 per cent of their population in rural areas. However,...

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