What is Urbanization?

Urbanization is a process whereby populations move from rural to urban area, enabling cities and towns to grow. It can also be termed as the progressive increase of the number of people living in towns and cities. It is highly influenced by the notion that cities and towns have achieved better economic, political, and social mileages compared to the rural areas.

Accordingly, urbanization is very common in developing and developed worlds as more and more people have the tendency of moving closer to towns and cities to acquire “privileged” social and economic services as well as benefits. These include social and economic advantages such as better education, health care, sanitation, housing, business opportunities, and transportation.

Majority of people move to cities and towns because they view rural areas as places with hardship and backward/primitive lifestyle. Therefore, as populations move to more developed areas (towns and cities) the immediate outcome is urbanization. This normally contributes to the development of land for use in commercial properties, social and economic support institutions, transportation, and residential buildings. Eventually, these activities raise several urbanization issues.

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To learn more about urbanization, here are its causes, effects and solutions.

Causes of Urbanization

  1. Industrialization

Industrialization is a trend representing a shift from the old agricultural economics to novel non-agricultural economy, which creates a modernized society. Through industrial revolution, more people have been attracted to move from rural to urban areas on the account of improved employment opportunities. Industrialization has increased employment opportunities by giving people the chance to work in modern sectors in job categories that aids to stir economic developments.

  1. Commercialization

Commerce and trade play a major role in urbanization. The distribution of goods and services and commercial transactions in the modern era has developed modern marketing institutions and exchange methods that have tremendously given rise to the growth of towns and cities. Commercialization and trade comes with the general perception that the towns and cities offer better commercial opportunities and returns compared to the rural areas.

  1. Social benefits and services

There are numerous social benefits attributed to life in the cities and towns. Examples include better educational facilities, better living standards, better sanitation and housing, better health care, better recreation facilities, and better social life in general. On this account, more and more people are prompted to migrate into cities and towns to obtain the wide variety of social benefits and services which are unavailable in the rural areas.

  1. Employment opportunities

In cities and towns, there are ample job opportunities that continually draw people from the rural areas to seek better livelihood. Therefore, the majority of people frequently migrate into urban areas to access well paying jobs as urban areas have countless employment opportunities in all developmental sectors such as public health, education, transport, sports and recreation, industries, and business enterprises. Services and industries generate and increase higher value-added jobs, and this leads to more employment opportunities.

  1. Modernization and changes in the mode of living

Modernization plays a very important role in the process of urbanization. As urban areas become more technology savvy together with highly sophisticated communication, infrastructure, medical facilities, dressing code, enlightenment, liberalization, and other social amenities availability, people believe they can lead a happy life in cities. In urban areas, people also embrace changes in the modes of living namely residential habits, attitudes, dressing, food, and beliefs. As a result, people migrate to cities and the cities grow by absorbing the growing number of people day after day.

  1. Rural urban transformation

As localities become more fruitful and prosperous due to the discovery of minerals, resource exploitation, or agricultural activities, cities start emerging as the rural areas transform to urbanism. The increase in productivity leads to economic growth and higher value-added employment opportunities.

This brings about the need to develop better infrastructure, better education institutions, better health facilities, better transportation networks, establishment of banking institutions, better governance, and better housing. As this takes place, rural communities start to adopt the urban culture and ultimately become urban centers that continue to grow as more people move to such locations in search of a better life.

Effects of Urbanization

  1. Positive effects of urbanization

Urbanization yields several positive effects if it happens within the appropriate limits. Some of the positive implications of urbanization therefore include creation of employment opportunities, technological and infrastructural advancements, improved transportation and communication, quality educational and medical facilities, and improved standards of living. However, extensive urbanization mostly results in adverse effects. Below listed points are few of them.

  1. Housing problems

Urbanization attracts people to cities and towns which lead to high population increase. With the increase in the number of people living in urban centers, there is continued scarcity of houses. This is due to insufficient expansion space for housing and public utilities, poverty, unemployment, and costly building materials which can only be afforded by few individuals.

  1. Overcrowding

Overcrowding is a situation whereby a huge number of people live in a small space. This form of congestion in urban areas is consistent because of overpopulation and it is an aspect that increases day by day as more people and immigrants move into cities and towns in search of better life. Most people from rural or undeveloped areas always have the urge of migrating into the city that normally leads to congestion of people within a small area.

  1. Unemployment

The problem of joblessness is highest in urban areas and it is even higher among the educated people. It is estimated that more than half of unemployed youths around the globe live in metropolitan cities. And, as much as income in urban areas is high, the costs of living make the incomes to seem horribly low. The increasing relocation of people from rural or developing areas to urban areas is the leading cause of urban unemployment.

  1. Development of slums

The cost of living in urban areas is very high. When this is combined with random and unexpected growth as well as unemployment, there is the spread of unlawful resident settlements represented by slums and squatters. The growth of slums and squatters in urban areas is even further exacerbated by fast-paced industrialization, lack of developed land for housing, large influx of rural immigrants to the cities in search of better life, and the elevated prices of land beyond the reach of the urban poor.

  1. Water and sanitation problems

Because of overpopulation and rapid population increase in most urban centers, it is common to find there are inadequate sewage facilities. Municipalities and local governments are faced with serious resource crisis in the management of sewage facilities. As a result, sanitation becomes poor and sewages flow chaotically, and they are drained into neighboring streams, rivers, lakes, or seas. Eventually, communicable diseases such as typhoid, dysentery, plague, and diarrhea spread very fast leading to suffering and even deaths. Overcrowding also highly contributes to water scarcity as supply falls short of demand.

  1. Poor health and spread of diseases

The social, economic and living conditions in congested urban areas affects access and utilization of public health care services. Slum areas in particular experience poor sanitation and insufficient water supply which generally make slum populations susceptible to communicable diseases. The environmental problems such as urban pollution also cause many health problems namely allergies, asthma, infertility, food poisoning, cancer and even premature deaths.

  1. Traffic congestion

When more people move to towns and cities, one of the major challenges posed is in the transport system. More people means increased number of vehicles which leads to traffic congestion and vehicular pollution. Many people in urban areas drive to work and this creates a severe traffic problem, especially during the rush hours. Also as the cities grow in dimension, people will move to shop and access other social needs/wants which often cause traffic congestion and blockage.

  1. Urban crime

Issues of lack of resources, overcrowding, unemployment, poverty, and lack of social services and education habitually leads to many social problems including violence, drug abuse, and crime. Most of the crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping, riots, assault, theft, robbery, and hijacking are reported to be more prominent in the urban vicinities. Besides, poverty related crimes are the highest in fast-growing urban regions. These acts of urban crime normally upset the peace and tranquility of cities/towns.

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Solutions of Urbanization

  1. Building sustainable and environmentally friendly cities

Governments should pass laws that plan and provide environmentally sound cities and smart growth techniques, considering that people should not reside in unsafe and polluted areas. The objective here is to build sustainable cities that embrace improved environmental conditions and safe habitats for all urban populations. Governments should also encourage sustainable use of urban resources and support an economy based on sustainable environment such as investment in green infrastructure, sustainable industries, recycling and environmental campaigns, pollution management, renewable energy, green public transportation, and water recycling and reclamation.

  1. Provision of essential services

Urban stakeholders must ensure all populations within the urban areas have access to adequate essential social services namely education, health, sanitation and clean water, technology, electricity, and food. The objective here is to provide and implement employment opportunities and wealth creation activities so that people can earn a living to pay for the maintenance of the services. Subsidies can also be availed by the government to lower the costs of basic healthcare, basic education, energy, education, public transportation, communication systems and technology.

  1. Creation of more jobs

To lessen the negative effects of rapid urbanization while at the same time conserving natural ecosystems, private investments should be encouraged so as to utilize natural resources and create more job opportunities. Tourism promotion and the sustainable exploitation of natural resources can create more jobs for the urban populations. Subsidies and grants may as well be provided to foreign and private investment in environmentally friendly development projects that encourage job creation.

  1. Population control

Key stakeholders in urban areas must provide campaigns and counseling for effective medical health clinics and family planning to help reduce the high rates of population growth. Medical health clinics oriented towards family planning options must be made accessible across the entire urban area with the objective of controlling diseases and population growth.

Image credit: Unsplash , pixabay

Rinkesh

Rinkesh is passionate about clean and green energy. He is running this site since 2009 and writes on various environmental and renewable energy related topics. He lives a green lifestyle and is often looking for ways to improve the environment around him.