With Reference To Several Contrasting Cities, Discuss The Challenges And Solutions Of Managing The Urban Environment
Over the years the population of major cities has been increasing rapidly resulting in a number of problems for both LEDC’s and MEDC’s. LEDC’s main problems are with housing whereas MEDC’s have more problems with its environment and transport situation.
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Sao Paulo, Brazil
In Sao Paulo the wealthy and the poor live quite close together. The rich live in luxury apartments with lots of security (this is because there is a high crime rate and the rich are the best targets). The poor buy very old town houses or if they can’t afford that they build their own favelas which have no electricity, no running water and are very unhygienic. They are built on unsuitable land like steep hills or on the side of railways and as they don’t own the land the government can throw them out and bulldoze their house at any time. The favelas are often overcrowded with 10 or more people living in one room!
The transport in Sao Paulo is fairly good. It has a port, railways and roads and 35% of the population own cars. In 1991 it was estimated that 3.4 million people used public transport daily and in recent years $95 million has been spent on 270km of suburban main line railways. With transport comes pollution but as Sao Paulo has no industry the pollution is at a minimum.
Mexico City has seen a massive population increase. In 1970 there were 9 million inhabitants living in a 400-mile square area. By 1996 17 million people were living in an 870-mile square area. As the population has increased the urban area has expanded outwards into an area that was rural farmland beforehand. 50% of people living in Mexico City at the moment live as squatters in illegal dwellings, which are run down and have no amenities. Being illegal dwellings they could lose their house at anytime.
In 1985 an earthquake destroyed many older buildings in the city which had not been built to withstand this sort of pressure. Many people were left homeless. Aid organisations came to the rescue by rebuilding new houses or giving money to be spent on housing.
Mexico City is struggling to keep its pollution to a minimum but it is trying some ideas to keep the amount to a safe level. One idea is that all taxis over 10 years old must be replaced so they have newer and more environmentally friendly engines. Many poor people rely on their income as a taxi driver to support their families and if they have to buy new taxis every 10 years they are not going to make any profit.
The poor air quality isn’t just down to transport pollution. It is due to the large population, the large number of industries as well as its high altitude and temperatures. Two million people suffer diseases caused by air pollution and health costs are up to $900 million a year.
LEDC housing solutions
The government has a few different options to help the poorest people with housing. They can: –
* Demolish squatter settlements
* Add basic amenities to settlements
* Do self help site and service schemes
* Relocate people
Demolishing is not a good idea as you make lots of people homeless and they will just go and build elsewhere so it’s not really helping anyone. If they add amenities to the favelas it means they can stay in the house that they built and the amenities e.g. water/ electricity will make life a bit better. Self help site and service schemes are where the government provides services and land. Residents build their own houses here (which become theirs) and they get electricity and water supplies. If you relocate people they need to find lots of new houses for squatters to move into which have better conditions.
I think the best idea is to provide the basic amenities to their original homes so they don’t have to move around a lot, it makes their lives more comfortable and it isn’t so expensive for the government so they could provide this scheme for lots of people.
London has a mixture of housing but nothing as bad as the LEDC’s. The most deprived areas of London are around the city for example Hackney and Tower Hamlet. These areas have low quality housing like council flats, which are rundown and dirty. The areas with the least amount of deprivation are on the outskirts of London like Bromley or Harrow. These areas have private estates with large houses.
The transport in London is awful. In the rush hour roads are gridlocked, motorways have huge traffic jams and public transport is crowded. In the 1980’s the government spent millions of pounds developing the Docklands Industrial Area and building the Docklands Light Railway. They built the railway to transport workers to and from the industrial area because they had built it in such a remote place there was no other way of getting there. This money could have been spent on public transport that was really needed!
The worst thing about London is the environment. The city remains the most polluted part of the UK and one of the most polluted cities in Europe, rivalled only by Athens and Katowice in Poland.
It is estimated that 24,000 people die prematurely each year from diseases bought on by air pollution. The parts of London closest to airports and major roads are the most polluted parts of the city. Marylebone Road in London is probably the most polluted spot in London because of the narrow streets with tall buildings the wind can’t disperse the pollution.
Travelling on the underground for 40 minutes is the equivalent to smoking two cigarettes. The underground is polluted with toxins and dust particles, which are damaging for your lungs.
The average household produces 1.3 tonnes of waste each year and the majority of it ends up in a land fill site and only 8% is recycled. The governments target for recycling is 25% but they are no where near reaching that figure. We need to do more to protect our environment.
Los Angeles, USA
In the 1950’s there was a law limiting the height of buildings but in 1957 that was overturned so, to save building in rural areas they built high rise apartment blocks. The housing situation in Los Angeles is similar to London. The deprived areas that are around the city have low quality housing and the less deprived areas are on the outskirts and have nice, good quality housing.
In 1950 2.3 million people had cars and by 1990 this figure had become 10.6 million. Not only does this cause a tremendous amount of congestion on the roads but it is also the main reason Los Angeles has the worst air pollution in the USA. It doesn’t help that the area has a low wind speed and is in a basin, which means the pollutants can’t escape. All the residents are at risk from fatal diseases resulting from pollution.
Los Angeles’ public transport is virtually non-existent and most people use their cars to get around the area.
MEDC environmental and transport solutions
Both cities need to invest a lot of money into sorting out their problems. Firstly, they need to look at the transport situation. They need to get the public to leave their cars at home when commuting into the city to avoid too much congestion. They then need to improve public transport so people want to use the service. Maybe introducing new bus services or more trains in and out of the city along with cheaper fares.
Secondly, they need to look at the pollution in their city. Fewer cars would help a bit but its lots of little things, which make the big differences. They should introduce recycling schemes so we don’t use up landfill sites with all the things that could be reused.
In conclusion I would say both LEDC’s and MEDC’s have the same problems but some are on a larger scale than others for example LEDC’s have a large housing problem compared to MEDC’s. Most of the problems can be solved successful if the government is willing to put in the time, effort and money and the public is willing to co-operate.