Questions on urban growth and/or urbanisation

Makoko, Lagos


Urbanisation is the proportion of the total population who are living in cities and large towns, whereas urban growth means the growth of the physical space that the city takes up, the changes that are made to the city and the population growth within the city. Therefore you could get a question about urbanisation or urban growth. For urbanisation see here, and for urban growth carry on reading this blog post.

To what extent does urban growth in NEEs always have a negative impact on the environment?

If you are using Lagos as an example these are the environmental impacts you can include:

  • Water pollution
  • Air pollution
  • Managing waste
  • Environmental controls for industry

Rapid urban growth in an NEE, such as Nigeria, can mean that the provision of infrastructure is not developed quickly enough to grow at the same rate as the city. Therefore there are areas of cities, such as Lagos, that do not have adequate clean water provision or sewage systems in place. This means that the drinking water in Lagos often contains bacterial or chemical pollutants which can cause illness and disease. In fact, 33% of squatter settlement dwellers pour their untreated sewage straight into the rivers or drain. Another 55% use pit latrines but the sewage can easily leak from these into the groundwater and find its way to the river. There are so many cars and buses on the roads of Lagos that air pollution has quickly become a problem, especially as many of the vehicles are very old and give out a lot of fumes. Another environmental problem is the rubbish that accumulates in a big city, only 40% of household waste is even collected in Lagos, and the rest is left to pollute the area, the waste dumped can quickly become toxic and again this can seep into the water supply. Industry also contributes to the problem as regulations to control their emissions have not been able to keep pace with industrial development.

With all these issues Geography Cat believes that urban growth does have a large negative impact on the environment. However, it doesn’t have to be like this, it is possible to introduce urban planning schemes that include adequate sewage disposal, and that replace poorly built shanty townhouses with better ones. This has already begun in the Makoko area of Lagos with the floating community project. Therefore, I conclude that urban growth does not have to always have a negative impact on the environment, although it usually does, at least to start off with.

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