The World Bank recorded in 1990 that the growth rate of the urban settlements is raising at rate of 4. 5 percent a year, but majority of this growth is occurring in the developing countries who are people with low income. This momentous increase in population is changing the urban structure of these cities as the process of urbanization is not only related to population growth, but it also includes the socio-economic conditions of a city and its impact upon the people who are living in it (Douglas, 1992).
The pattern of urbanization in third world cities is different from developed world, as majority of them have become agglomeration of millions of people squeezed in narrow space. For example Mexico City has twenty million people with a growth rate of 10 percent per year (between 1980s and 1990s), and Tanzania growth is above 10 percent. Yet there are examples like Colombo (Sri Lanka), where it is only two percent.
Examples like this depict that the process of urbanization is not uniform and each city has its own trends and reasons for expansion (Jenks, 2000). It is variations like these which makes the comparison of these cities difficult with the developed world cities. The reason is that the process of urbanization in third world cities is not uniform like the cities in the West, which are accurately planned and have definite boundaries. A typical third world city resembles a giant creature, whose tentacles are spread in different direction.
For example many cities in China include even the rural areas in its boundaries to tap into the urban resources which otherwise, these rural areas find hard to get, still these rural villages and towns live at the edge of deprivation and poverty as they little touched with vital urban necessities. Shanghai is one such example, which has large agricultural land reaching 6000 square km. Sprawled over such large space has given rise to inaccurate registration system, frequent changes to boundaries.
Another example is Vietnam where the urban growth was 19. 8 percent between 1989 and 1995, but officials recorded it as negative growth and the reason was the huge boundaries, which diminished the concept of city and rural areas (Leitman, 1992). The enormous growth in third world cities has led to increasing problems, such as environmental problems, strain on resources, spilling of sewage and waste and traffic jams, spread of diseases, and population exposition.
A few such examples include, the Bhopal (India) disaster in 1984, when a chemical plant exploded and killed 3000 people, the return of cholera in Latin cities due to over congestion and recent Turkey earth quake where 40000 people were killed in one day, because of poor construction material. On one side if these problems were disasters but they were made worse by the hazardous living conditions in these cities.
For example Mexico city has one of most polluted air in the world due to industrial waste and vehicles, but the worse thing is it has a population of 25 million, which means it is affecting majority of the Mexicans (Symth and Royle, 2000). And the Mexican local and federal government has little resources to tackle these problem, as every one in Mexico wants to come to Mexico city for good living without releasing its burdening the resources further.
Ironically Mexico City and Kula Lumpur (Malaysia) per head captia is the same, but Kula Lumpur is one of the most well developed cities in Asia due to good urban planning and management. Similarly over population has lead to shortage of water in many third world cities forcing officials to over exploit the scarce water resources. For example Manila and Jakarta and Hanoi are suffering from water shortage with frequent flooding in raining season, while coastal cities Lima and Dakar are suffering from saline intrusion.
Bangkok on the other hand is sinking into earth and some parts of Bangkok have sunk more than 1. 5 meters since 1930. Ironically the reason for this water shortage is not people, but rather the construction of golf courses (200 in the last ten years) in Thailand. The tragedy is that the majority of the people in Bangkok do not have enough water for their daily use, but six million liters of water is used on these gold courses every day (Smith,2000). The Third World Cities have seen extra- ordinary growth in their urban expansion since 1950.
The world 10 most populous cities are located in the third world countries. The urbanization has changed the way of life for the people living there. On one side these megacities have become economic giant for their countries, on other they have also created problems such as disease, congested traffic, pollution and sacristy of resources with a huge gap among haves and have not. As these cities are unplanned and this urbanization is a sudden experience, it is natural for the Third world countries to be surrounded by these surmounting troubles, unless they choose the way out.