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‘Urban problems are the same the world over and require the same solutions’ To what extent do you agree with this view? Throughout the world there are many cities which have many different issues and have to solve them in a variety of different ways due to the economic, political, environmental and social states of the city itself. Therefore, I do not entirely agree with this view as many urban problems need different solutions in different cities. The biggest and most obvious differences are between LEDC’s and MEDC’s.
These are at completely opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the ways they can deal with urban problems. Housing in the cities is one of the biggest problems in both of these kinds of cities, but in LEDC’s such as Mexico City and Mumbai, it is much worse. Not only are these two of the most highly populated cities in the world, but they experience high polarisation between the CBD and outskirts of the city. This means living conditions and quality of life in the centre of the city are much better than those in the outskirts in most cases.
The main housing problems stem from the overpopulation in the cities as people have nowhere to live so set up shanty towns and squatter settlements wherever space is available. This is why favelas in Mexico City have become such as a problem. As the cities are becoming a much more appealing place for things such as work, education and facilities, rural to urban migration in countries where LEDC’s are developing most rapidly, such as Mexico City, is making the problem for housing in these cities much greater. The megacity LEDC’s deal with this problem much differently to how an MEDC such as New York would.
For example in Mumbai, the slum at Dharavi, which is part of the city, is ‘the biggest slum in Asia’. Governments there are solving this problem by clearing the housing in stages, moving people to temporary accommodation, then building an additional five storey’s on top of the one and two storey buildings where the people used to live to create and much bigger area for people to live in. People who can prove they have been living in Dharavi since 1995 will receive free housing in the new complex, and those that cannot will have to pay small rent fee’s or buy the accommodation themselves. A good solution to a major problem.
The solution is solving more than just the housing problem; the whole new development includes sewage lines, fresh water supplies, electricity, roads and health care facilities for the whole new development, improving the whole infrastructure considerably. Even though that solution enables the whole infrastructure to be vastly improved, it also battles against all the criminal activity that occurs in those Dharavi slums. In the slum area, it is very hard for local authorities to track down criminals and other prosecutors as there are vast areas of corrugated iron sheets and small alleyways.
However, other methods are being used to bring down the crime percentage in Dharavi apart from removing the slum areas. They have particularly targeted the youth crime rates by setting up youth groups within the slums which draws youths from ages 8-16 away for crime. Instead, they work in the informal market voluntarily or even get a small amount of money for say working in a car garage. These schemes are fighting the urban problem of crime, but the biggest way to battle it, is to educate the people that are committing them.
MEDC’s housing problems in an urban area is solved much differently. As the infrastructure in most MEDC’s is highly structured and space is very limited due to the intense development in the past. Therefore, these MEDC’s have to manage the space they do have very efficiently and exploit opportunities where housing for businessman and people who work in the city can be constructed. For example, In Manchester, The Hilton has been constructed and shows how space can be utilised efficiently in the city.
This miniature skyscraper which is the tallest building in Manchester by quite a lot is adapted so that half of the space inside it has been converted into apartments which can be bought and so are ideal for people who work in the city. You can see how Housing Problems in MEDC’s and LEDC’s are similar but the solutions to the problem are completely different. Even though migration contributes to the massive urban problem of housing in cities, it is still in its own right a huge urban problem that needs it own solutions.
Migration has caused many cities to come to a stand still as there simply too many people in an area. For Example, New York in rush hours around Times Square and other major squares can completely stop due to the amount of traffic that comes through that area. In LEDC’s, such as Mumbai, the sheer amount of people in train stations causes on average 2 people a day to be killed on the railways there. This is why migration needs to controlled and managed to ensure the functionality of the city is maintained. In Mumbai, the biggest source of migration is the rural to urban migration that occurs.
This happens because people are seeking for higher paid work and the growing economy in these cities causing a demand for more people to work in a whole range of jobs, from the most highly skilled to the most menial. This is putting a massive strain on the cities infrastructure as it is estimated the cities population is growing by 10,000 ever week. New train tracks are now having to be built in Mumbai due to this massive overpopulation in there city. This new development is costing hundreds of millions but it is necessary so that Mumbai can progress into the future.
In MEDC’s as the GNP per capita is much higher, people who are working in the CBD of that city do not necessarily have to live there and therefore live outside the city in commuter villages and towns. This means that housing in MEDC’s isn’t always a massive problem as many of the inhabitants live outside the city and migrate in every day. However, this is why MEDC’s are successful as there transport systems are so sophisticated that they spread well out of the city itself and sustain the surrounding areas around the city.
Poor infrastructure in a city is mainly the biggest underlining problem of all urban problems as it means places cannot adapt well to change and management of all services becoming a lot more difficult. When simple provisions such as water cannot be supplied to the people that need it, they depend on contaminated water, which causes disease inevitably and puts extensive pressure onto the health services which are already under extreme pressure due to the overpopulation in these cities.
Roads in most LEDC’s are worn and are not very good at doing the job they are supposed to. This causes the transport systems such as the buses and taxi services in these cities to suffer badly as they rarely reach their destinations on time. Around the world there are many hotspots, fault lines and fissures. LEDC’s and MEDC’s are found all along these potential hazards, but the biggest difference is, MEDC’s are prepared for these potential hazards, LEDC’s aren’t.
In today’s modern history, one of the most prominent events in the 21st century to show the unprepared LEDC’s weaknesses to natural hazards was the 2005 Kashmir earthquake in Pakistan that killed over 40,000 people. Most of the people that died from this earthquake were killed by the buildings they were taking shelter in. The buildings were built with reinforced concrete but the structures weren’t built with strong storey joints and they collapsed as soon as significant stress was put upon them. This means over 1,000 buildings in Kashmir that day pancaked and crushed everybody inside them.
The urban problem of natural disasters in a MEDC is dealt with by a fine toothcomb. Since they have had the time to adjust to these natural disasters, they have developed many methods to ensure that if one of these natural disasters strikes, they are fully prepared. In the past where fatalities have occurred from building collapsing from earthquakes, when the new buildings have been built to replace them, they have been finely tuned into withstanding vibrations generated by an earthquake ensuring they do not collapse under the added stress from them.
MEDC’s are able to this as they have more disposable income to deal with and solve these problems. However, LEDC’s cannot do that as easily. All in all, I can only agree with this statement slightly. After sharing my views on the MEDC’s and LEDC’s problems and solutions to urban problems, I believe it is clear to see how and why they differ. The world experience’s the same urban problems, but the way in which they deal with them is completely different.