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Urbanization in Third World Countries

The third world countries include many countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, which have rapidly urbanized in the last half-decade as result of rapid industrialization. This industrial revolution has been fueled by their interaction with the developed nations from which they get capital, technology, expertise and machinery. (K Parthasarathi) From 1950 the proportion of people living in urban areas has more than doubled to around 1. 3 billion, which is about 36 percent of the total world population.

Around a half of these people living in such towns and cities came from rural areas and settled in slums and squatter settlement that are highly overpopulated. This rapid rural –urban migration has caused the shanties and slum areas to grow faster than other zones of the town and even faster than the rate of growth of employment infrastructure and essential services. (Chrisna du P. and Kaixun S. ) The rapid urbanization in third world countries has been associated to a number of costs to the environment and the poor people living in the slums and shanties.

Studies in several large cities in the Third World large have shown that malnutrition and mortality of children below the age of five years are some of the problems encountered by people in such areas. (UNDP) To understand the situation of rapid urbanization in the third world countries it is important that we look at its effects on the environment and the poor in details. Negative effects of urbanization to environment The fumes from vehicles and trains as well as numerous industries that are located in the large cities of developing counties have caused devastating effect on the environment.

Some of the gases such as carbon monoxide and sulphur dioxide that the factories and vehicle produce have resulted to increase of respiratory diseases in people living in towns. (Rees, W 1992) Some of these gases from the industries have led to degradation of the ozone layer of the atmosphere resulting to more radioactive rays finding their way to the surface of the earth. The wearing away of the ozone layer of the atmosphere has contributed to global warming, desertification and increase in skin diseases. (Rees, W 1992)

Noise is also a major cause of concern for people living near industries or busy highways in cities of Third World countries. Exposure of people living in noisy environment causes complications such as, hearing malfunction, and hypertension, disturbed sleeping patterns as well as poor school performance. Scientists have also associated noise to birth defects and low immunity prevalent in such areas. (Bartone, Carl. 1991) The dumping of wastes such as household rubbish, solid wastes and sludge affects capacity of soil to support life.

The land bordering large industries have become unproductive as a result of wastes that have been dumped in such areas. These chemicals destroy small living organism that are important contents of the soil. These wastes further increase the acidity of the soil thus making it unsuitable for cultivation. (Bartone, Carl. 1991) Some toxic wastes from industries that are dumped on the land also leak into the nearby rivers killing aquatic organism such as fish.

(Cairncross, S 1990) These waste have also made water unsafe for human and animal consumption. (Listorti, J. A. 1990) Increased demand for meat in urban areas has led to poaching of wild animals by some dishonest traders in their attempt to make more profits. This meat is sold to unsuspecting consumers in the slums and shanties where the public health officers rarely visit to inspect the quality of meat. Studies carried on the effect of consumption of game among pigmies’hunters in Cameroon indicated such meat to cause’ simian foamy viruses.

Furthermore, the killing of endangered species for meat by poachers might lead to their extinction in the near future if remedial action is not taken early enough. The case of Mexico further sheds more light on the effects of urbanization to the environment in third world countries. The rapid industrialization and urbanization in Mexico resulted from North American free trade agreement (NAFTA) and caused severe environmental impact to urban areas in Mexico. At the time when Mexico was entering into NAFTA agreement, it was already suffering form a number of environmental disabilities.

The inflow of multi-national companies worsened the environmental situation since those multinational corporation focused on profits and ignored the consequence of their activities to the environment. (Bradley, D et al 1991) Poor infrastructure also contributed to higher increased levels environment hazards. The government of Mexico was not able to invest adequately on infrastructure from 1980 to 1989 due a financial crisis that took place around that time. In addition to that, most export products in Mexico are pollution intensive in nature.

The production of such product (chemical, petroleum, cement paper and pulp) coupled with the production activities of foreign companies has caused very severe impact on the environment resulting into increased environmental hazards in urban areas of Mexico. (Bradley, D et al 1991) Most particularly the area that is located around the boundaries of United States and Mexico is the one that has been adversely affected by pollution of environment. In this area, the people have suffered from unhygienic drinking water, toxic air caused by pollution from numerous industries located in this high-industrialized area. (Listorti, J. A. 1990)

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