Half the World Will Soon Live in Cities

Gaboronecitykgaleviewbotswana But according to a new report from the United Nations Population Fund, one-sixth of the world, or 1 billion people, live in slums that feature all the worst aspects of urban life, and none of the best. And it won’t be the largest megacities that will increase in size (they are actually shrinking), but smaller cities that are beginning to sprawl into the countryside. Many of these places are less than ideal human habitats — water systems are polluted, erosion and global warming threaten the physical infrastructure, and crime and poverty are a way of life.

Possible upsides? Increased access to jobs, multiculturalism, and education. But with day-to-day life for slum dwellers so difficult, it’s hard to see this as a sign of civilization on the march.

Photograph of Gaborone, Botswana, population about 200,000.

3 thoughts on “Half the World Will Soon Live in Cities

  1. josh bivens

    if you haven’t read it, mike davis’ ‘planet of slums’ is an exhaustive, and awfully interesting/depressing, read of this document.

    definitely worth reading.

    Reply
  2. Ulysses

    Some of the most famous slums in South America, “the favelas” of Rio De Janeiro, are in the news today. Pedro Fonseca reports for Reuters on the recent bloodshed just a couple of weeks in advance of the Pan American games.

    link to alertnet.org

    Reply

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