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Archive for the ‘Urban environments’ Category

A new post from Kibera

Posted by Lindy on January 4, 2012


How they get warm water, food and beads for sale, in exchange for collecting bringing rubbish! A great example of management resources and also reducing the need for oil or wood in their homes.

Kibera cooker

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Posted in Kibera, Urban environments | Leave a Comment »

Kibera – cash for trash – a new video

Posted by Lindy on November 14, 2011


 

Posted in Appropriate technology, Kibera, Recycling, Sustainability, Urban environments | Leave a Comment »

Is Africa an area of rapid urbanisation?

Posted by Lindy on October 30, 2011


http://allafrica.com/stories/201110270075.html

From article by Edward Paice  – 26 October 2011

Everyone knows that Nairobi’s Kibera district is the largest “informal settlement”, or slum, in sub-Saharan Africa. At least, they used to know. Politicians, journalists, NGOs and urban planning professionals routinely declared that 700,000 – 1,000,000 people lived in Kibera. But when the district was geo-statistically mapped for the first time in 2009 its population was estimated at no more than 220,000-250,000. Kibera has not exactly disappeared, but it is a shadow of its former imagined self.

In similar vein, the city of Lagos is widely believed to have about 15 million inhabitants – an estimate supported by the city authorities in the wake of Nigeria’s contested (and manipulated) 2006 census. But the 2009 Africapolis survey of West Africa’s urban population, the most sophisticated to date and compiled with the aid of satellite imagery, found that the city was home to no more than 10 million people. Even more significantly, while Nigeria’s census claimed that the country’s population was 140 million, the Africapolis team concluded that “in reality, [Nigeria] probably does not contain 100 million”. The shrinkage of Kibera, Lagos and Nigeria will prove to be unexceptional.

Why is it happening?

Governments and city authorities competing for funds, and donors and investors competing for projects, have shared a penchant for exaggeration. Despite the lack of a census in DRC since 1984, McKinsey forecasts that Kinshasa will be the 13th largest city in the world by 2025. The UN has routinely – and demonstrably – over-estimated the size of Africa’s larger cities and urban populations. Over time, errors and misinterpretations of data have become magnified, and projections less realistic. Yet it is the UN’s statistics which are most commonly cited. “They have become ‘fact’ by being constantly re-stated”, says Dr Debby Potts at King’s College, London, “instead of being recognised as guesses”.

So what is it really like?

More reliable urban population estimates and projections are increasingly available to anyone minded to heed them. They present a far from uniform picture for the continent, but challenge the received wisdom that Africa is urbanising faster than any other continent in the world. According to Africapolis, the urbanisation level in West Africa will rise by less than 3%, to 34.6% of the total population, in the period 2000-2020. Analysis by Debby Potts and other leading specialists of the 18 censuses published by sub-Saharan countries in the past decade reveals a similar picture. While urban populations are growing fast in many countries, only in four countries is rapid urbanisation occurring. According to Potts, “the most common pattern is for slow urbanisation”.

The UN thinks urbanisation is a good thing?

Rapid urbanisation is being portrayed – by the UN, the World Bank and many others – as a potential developmental “silver bullet” for Africa. Cities, we are frequently told, will be the drivers of economic growth and poverty reduction on the continent in the years to come. At present, such claims are too simplistic, and counter-productively over-optimistic.

So why are African cities not growing?

One of the explanations for the modest momentum of urbanisation in so many African countries is the lack of opportunities for individuals to improve their lot in towns and cities. Job creation, or lack of it, is the key factor here. In the absence of formal or informal employment, or better services, many rural migrants chose to return whence they came, or to come and go – a phenomenon known as “circular migration”. This is becoming more and more common, and stays in each location are of shorter duration. Natural increase among the poorest urban-dwellers, not migration, is the biggest driver of urban growth in Africa. This means slum growth, and burgeoning ranks of unoccupied young men and women.

Posted in Human geography, Population, Urban environments | Leave a Comment »

Health needs key to our urban planning claims Cumbria health chief

Posted by Lindy on October 28, 2011


http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/health-needs-key-to-our-urban-planning-claims-cumbria-health-chief-1.890356?referrerPath=/1.50001

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Cumbria’s most senior public health expert will call for modern health needs to be a prime consideration in all future planning decisions. Planning decisions can impact on the local population’s long-term health. By looking back in history, it is possible to see how the two can work together successfully.

Professor John Ashton said: “Public health and town planning were like Siamese twins in the 19th century when they were tackling slum conditions. That was really the birth of modern town planning. It took the form of zoning – separating areas where people lived from the factories and their noxious pollution. The issues they were addressing were to deal with the type of industries around then. But since the war there has been a real drift away from that relationship between planning and public health. Part of what I will be calling for is to revisit that.”

Prof Ashton wants to see urban areas designed to tackle modern day health problems. “That includes looking at things like housing type, location, how people move around – should it be dominated by the motor car or have provision for walking and cycling? – and open spaces for recreation.”

He used examples such as reopening the bridge across the River Eden to provide to provide new walk and cycle routes into town, creating small play areas in each community so that all families can access them easily, and creating more fitness areas for the elderly – like the outdoor gym in Carlisle’s Belle Vue.

“There is evidence from Japan that if elderly people live within walking distance of green space then they live longer than those who do not. It’s about re-engineering and reshaping our urban areas, making it easier for children to walk and cycle to school,” he added.

Finally he calls for more emphasis on healthy social lives – creating meeting places to replace those, such as old-fashioned markets and laundry areas that no longer have a place in society.

Posted in Urban environments | Leave a Comment »

Health needs key to our urban planning claims Cumbria health chief

Posted by Lindy on October 24, 2011


http://www.newsandstar.co.uk/news/health-needs-key-to-our-urban-planning-claims-cumbria-health-chief-1.890356?referrerPath=/1.50001

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Cumbria’s most senior public health expert will call for modern health needs to be a prime consideration in all future planning decisions. Planning decisions can impact on the local population’s long-term health. By looking back in history, it is possible to see how the two can work together successfully.

Professor John Ashton said: “Public health and town planning were like Siamese twins in the 19th century when they were tackling slum conditions. That was really the birth of modern town planning. It took the form of zoning – separating areas where people lived from the factories and their noxious pollution. The issues they were addressing were to deal with the type of industries around then. But since the war there has been a real drift away from that relationship between planning and public health. Part of what I will be calling for is to revisit that.”

Prof Ashton wants to see urban areas designed to tackle modern day health problems. “That includes looking at things like housing type, location, how people move around – should it be dominated by the motor car or have provision for walking and cycling? – and open spaces for recreation.”

He used examples such as reopening the bridge across the River Eden to provide to provide new walk and cycle routes into town, creating small play areas in each community so that all families can access them easily, and creating more fitness areas for the elderly – like the outdoor gym in Carlisle’s Belle Vue.

“There is evidence from Japan that if elderly people live within walking distance of green space then they live longer than those who do not. It’s about re-engineering and reshaping our urban areas, making it easier for children to walk and cycle to school,” he added.

Finally he calls for more emphasis on healthy social lives – creating meeting places to replace those, such as old-fashioned markets and laundry areas that no longer have a place in society.

Posted in Urban environments | Leave a Comment »

African Urban Planning. Way Forward for Africa’s Cities?

Posted by Lindy on October 20, 2011


African Urban Planning. Way Forward for Africa’s Cities?

http://allafrica.com/stories/201110170118.html

15 October 2011

An important dimension of Africa’s demographic change is rapid urbanisation. The problem of urbanisation in Africa, however, is not merely the number of urban residents. Compared to other regions, Africa still has one of the lowest levels of urbanisation in the world. According to UN estimates, only 40 per cent of the region’s population lived in urban areas in 2010, compared to about 50 per cent globally. The concern over Africa’s urbanisation, rather, is with its speed: while the roughly 3.3 billion worldwide urban resident population is projected to double by 2050, Africa’s 373 million urban resident population is expected to more than double by as early as 2030, and much of this growth is concentrated in a few areas.

The 2010 population of Lagos Metropolitan Area, for instance, was estimated to be over 12 million, and Kinshasa-Brazzaville was 10.5 million, which now both classified as megacities. Another notable aspect of urbanisation in Africa is that it has not been accompanied by improvements in basic living standards. Unlike in some of the other regions, Africa’s urbanisation is driven by the “push” factors, too many people trying to make a living in rural areas, desertification, lack of resources and wars rather than “pull” factors that result from economic opportunities in the cities.

The region has experienced little or no industrial growth to support this rapid growth of cities, and many African cities are imploding due to infrastructure overload. African urbanisation thus runs counter to the general theory that urbanisation provides greater access to jobs, basic services, and social safety nets.

Africa’s urbanisation challenges

1. Making a living in African cities

A lack of economic opportunities compels Africa’s urban residents towards an array of creative, innovative and inventive strategies to make a living. The informal sector absorbs over 60 per cent of the urban labour force in some African countries, with women forming a large majority of proprietors. While the informal sector has always been part of the urban economy in Africa, many urban residents are now involved in “multiple livelihood strategies”, as people are compelled to employ diversified means of income generation through the acquisition of additional jobs. This practice is not only limited to those in the informal sector, but also by those sections of the population dependent on fixed wages. As a result, the informal sector is no longer the preserve of the poor, but also includes professionals, administrators and other highly ranked formal sector employees. Another activity that many urban residents, including the poor and slum residents, engage in is urban agriculture. Over a third of Kampalans, for instance, now claim to practice it.

2. Difficulty of providing infrastructure

The chaotic expansion of urban spaces in Africa limits the ability of national and local governments to provide urban security and a basic social infrastructure in areas such as health, education, water, and sewage disposal facilities. As a result slums or shanty towns grow, overcoming and swallowing what little crumbling infrastructure that already exists. Many African city dwellers do not have access to electricity or potable water. Waste disposal presents a tremendous health hazard, and indoor air pollution, poor nutrition and urban crime all pose further threats. Slums face additional environmental challenges due to the low quality of construction materials and location on marginal ground. Many slums also flood routinely, and are vulnerable to accidental or malicious fires. The emerging threat of climate change is only likely to intensify these problems.

3. Slum growth

Slums are becoming the norm in the urbanisation of Africa. Nairobi’s slums, for instance, account for about a quarter of the city’s estimated total population of around three million. Poverty, deprivation, crime, violence and general human insecurity have become more prevalent. The unhealthy environment and overcrowded housing expose the urban poor to high rates of infectious diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis and diarrhoea. In some African cities, slums emerge due to the lack ownership of land, while inappropriate zoning laws and building codes seem to be the culprits in others.

4. Disease

Urbanisation generally has positive effects on overall human health. African cities, however, have mixed effects on the spread of diseases. On the one hand, urban areas in Africa have better health status because of the availability of healthcare facilities and lower malaria infection rates, due in part to the availability of bed-nets. On the other hand, HIV infection rates are generally higher in urban areas and especially high in slums, where sexual coercion and violence against women accelerate its spread.

5. Urban environmental problems

As African cities become overcrowded, the pollution of the urban environment exacerbates environmental disasters and contributes to health problems. Heavy traffic and emissions are the cause of respiratory problems, heavy noise pollution, road accidents and stressful journeys, as well as other urban nuisances. Industrial and residential emissions, domestic wood and coal fire emissions, crude dumping of solid waste and improper landfills, sewers, septic or fuel tank leakages and water effluents all contribute to the degradation of environmental health in already overcrowded cities. Food and other contaminants, as well as communicable diseases – cholera, malaria, and diarrhoea, amongst others – also threaten the life and health of urban dwellers. These areas are also more vulnerable to health hazards like natural disasters.

Posted in Human geography, Population, Urban environments | Leave a Comment »

Another great scheme for Kibera from Practical action

Posted by Lindy on October 6, 2011


An unusual power shower

More than 750,000 people live on Africa’s largest informal settlement Kibera, where it was not usual for more than 200 people to share a pit latrine, which often overflow and are emptied into a river where children play. The alternative was ‘flying toilets; people left with little choice but to use plastic or paper bags as toilets and then throw them out of the home.

Diseases such as typhoid and cholera thrive in these conditions and children are especially vulnerable. According to the United Nations, worldwide, a child dies every 15 seconds from these diseases.

One project which has proved incredibly popular is working with communities to build and run a shower and toilet block. The waste passes into a thick, concrete chamber, producing methane, which is connected to a water heating system for the showers.

The community runs this scheme and even employs a caretaker and cleaner. As well as employing people to keep the toilets clean and tidy, the toilets and showers have had another major effect on the community; the areas has become a hive of social activity. Throughout the day the steps are bustling with people as women and mothers meet while the steps give children somewhere to play.

Over the course of a week, more than 2,700 people visit the toilets (395 per day) and 290 people use the showers (41 per week).

http://practicalaction.org/power-from-waste

Posted in Bio-enenrgy, Kibera, Renewable, Solution to problems, Urban environments | Leave a Comment »

How is this for a neat idea?

Posted by Lindy on September 29, 2011


Posted in Fragile environments, Global warming, Solution to problems, Sustainability, Urban environments | Leave a Comment »

Cities to Grab Lands Equaling Size of Mongolia In Next 20 Years, Study Predicts

Posted by Lindy on September 18, 2011


http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110915163955.htm

ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2011) — In the next 20 years, more than 590,000 square miles of land globally — more than twice the size of Texas — will be gobbled up by cities, a trend that shows no signs of stopping and one that could pose threats on several levels, says a Texas A&M University geographer who is part of a national team studying the problem.

“This massive urbanization of land is happening worldwide, but India, China and Africa have experienced the highest rates of urban land expansion,” Güneralp explains. “Our study covered the 30 years from 1970 to 2000, and we found that urban growth is occurring at the highest rates in developing countries. However, it is the North America that experienced the largest increase in total urban land.”

The United Nations predicts that by 2030 there will be an additional 1.47 billion people living in urban areas; and, urban population growth is a significant driver of urban land change, especially in developing regions such in India and Africa. However, economic growth is also important, particularly in China.

Coastal areas are especially vulnerable to urban expansion. This makes coastal areas a special area of concern because people and infrastructures are at risk to rising sea levels, flooding, hurricanes, tsunamis and other disasters.

There is a good side to urbanisation however. People who live in cities tend to have better access to health care, water and sanitation facilities, and cities are shown to be more efficient with regards to such things as energy consumption compared to rural areas. In cities, people exchange. They exchange ideas, experiences as well as materials. All these spur innovation and create business opportunities. Because of all these interactions, cities are the most likely places to come up with the solutions to the emerging environmental and economic challenges that we face.

Posted in coasts, IGCSE, Urban environments | Leave a Comment »

Kenya loses opportunity to save billions in slum upgrading

Posted by Lindy on February 25, 2011


Published on 21/02/2011

By Dann Okoth

The Government has squandered an opportunity to save billions of shillings and create employment for tens of thousands of youth in slum upgrading projects.

The country would have saved half the amount it spent in the project had it adopted the in situ slum upgrading system as suggested in the original Kenya Slum Upgrading Project report the Financial Journal can reveal. The in situ slum upgrading system entails a participatory approach between slum dwellers and developers

The State has earmarked Sh880 billion for slum upgrading projects across the country in a 15-year plan to replace slums with affordable housing, but experts say the cost would be far much less had the State involved slum dwellers in the construction process.

Accroding the a recent report, it would have been ten times cheaper, for instance, in Kibera slums, where 10,000 units would have been upgraded at a cost of only Sh1 billion. The project would have entailed using cheap but durable building materials and labour from the slum dwellers. What would have been  required of the Government was to service land (install water, electricity and road infrastructure).

Already the Government has spent a whopping Sh2 billion to relocate 1,000 households to the decanting site in Langata in phase one of the Kibera slum upgrading project co-funded by UN-Habitat, the government and other donors. The project is expected be completed in seven phases.

The government opted to go for corporate slum upgrading where they hoped to provide the slum dwellers with two bed-roomed flats.

The particiapatory approach was applied in estates like Dandora, Mathare 4A and Umoja where the government provided services land complete with road infrastructure, water and sewerage services, and electricity at very low cost to the exchequer.

http://www.standardmedia.co.ke/sports/InsidePage.php?id=2000029702&cid=457

Posted in Development, Kibera, Solution to problems, Urban environments | Leave a Comment »