How Is Urbanization Affecting the Environment?

Cairo, in Egypt, is an urban area that has the problem of a rapid population causing for its economic, social and environmental systems.

Cairo’s population has grown by 10 million people in 30 years, causing multiple problems because of its rapid ness, due to rural-urban migration and natural increase. Because of large numbers of migrants entering the city from the countryside, housing became a large problem, as these people are too poor to afford housing on the outskirts. Instead, most move into the medieval parts of the city where blocks of cramped two-roomed apartments provide cheap housing.

However, this is often too expensive, especially for those that have only just become economically independent, therefore, extra storeys have been created on the flat roof tops in slums. It is because of this high-density housing, as well as pollution and sewerage systems and many other problems that have cause health hazards. With such a large city already, disease is prone to everyone and is likely to be airborne in most areas, with few doctors and a lack of medicines.

Because there are so many people in the city there are few job vacancies, especially for those lacking in simple skills other than farming. As a result, 35% of the population only work full-time, most working informally. Especially in the medieval areas, the streets are full of market stalls and informal businesses, for example, washing pots and selling jewellery. This could lead many of the people into a vicious cycle as in this line of work they may receive little work, therefore they could not afford anywhere to live, by they are not skilled enough to get a higher paid job.

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The problem with the jobs are that they are very labour intensive and in return you get a low and irregular wage because you may sell lots of products on one day and non on the other. However, the population is growing so rapidly that there is simple not enough housing and a job for everyone, and no one wants to live outside the city in the new developments.

The environmental problems caused by the rapid growth of the city are that a large amount of the pollution is created, whether it be industrial, caused by the waste from things dropped in the streets and the refuse tips used to burn anything that is not recyclable, whereby they are being overused because there is too much waste, or noise from the many motor cars that are not designed to fir in the narrow, unplanned streets. Another environmental problem is that there is a poor sewerage system.

There was a very small sewerage network built in the 20th Century which cannot cope with such a large amount of people now, therefore what systems there are, are breaking down, causing the streets to flood in dirty water, causing more disease. There is also a poor water system, with both poor quality and quantity. As the demand for water grows, the amount of it decreases, as it cannot be supplied as fast as it is needed.

Many problems have been caused by such a rapid population growth within Cairo, however, there are some solutions to help slow this down, for example, stopping rural-urban migration by providing better facilities in rural areas, like a clean water supply.

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