Poverty in urban areas

1. Introduction

In developing countries, the alarming levels of urban poverty call for prompt action. Continuous development of urban areas and growth of urban population in these countries has led to a myriad of problems that has made urban poverty a cyclic phenomenon.

Today, urban population is facing poverty-related problems like lack of sanitation and clean water, poor drainage, inadequate management of waste, etc (Stephen, 2008, p. 1). Living in this kind of an environment which is also characterized with high unemployment rates and overpopulation, the poor are forced to engage in activities that sink them deeper in poverty and guarantee the poverty of their children.

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This problem is magnified by the fact that government agencies have been unable to develop a sustainable solution through planning. This paper is a report addressing the problem of urban poverty and suggesting possible solutions to the problem for presentation to an aid agency (“Analyzing urban poverty”, 2006, pp. 1 – 12).

2. Drawbacks to urban poverty alleviation

The main reason for escalation of the problem of poverty is urban areas is because the intricate problems of urban poverty are considered too small to attract big policies. However, their cumulative effect on urban life is tremendous. First of all, poverty in urban areas implies poor quality of urban neighbourhoods.

This is due to the fact that most of these areas have council housing that fails to meet minimal decency standards (Stephen, 2008, p. 1). Other urban areas are characterized with a high number of squatter settlements that have equally poor living conditions.

These settlements are also characterized with dense population, land scarcity and topological limitations that make it difficult for them to gain access to urban services like electricity, water and sometimes transport infrastructure. They, therefore act as a catalyst for aggressive and disruptive behaviour. Residents of these areas, therefore, engage in graffiti, rubbish dumping, vandalism and minor crime.

These are made hard to detect by the environment these people live in. On the contrary, well-kept environments are self regulatory with reference to unacceptable societal behaviour. Thus, these environments draw people to leisure spaces that create common purpose and security. As stated earlier, poverty in urban areas prompt for actions by the poor that make the poverty cyclical. For instance, in most urban areas, the poor are forced to use alternative energy like charcoal that lead to environmental degradation.

This leads to weather and climate problems that affect economies and thus plunges the poor into more poverty. They are also forced to indulge their children in child labour and therefore, the children miss education. This makes their children lead the poor lives their parents led (Perlman, Hopkins & Jonsson, 1998, pp. 1 – 13).

3. Solutions for urban poverty

3.1 Good development programs

The efforts of government agencies in combating urban poverty have not achieved remarkable success in poverty stricken urban areas due to poor planning. Aid agencies should, therefore, intervene and conceive holistic improvement programs that take the key issues related to urban poverty into consideration.

These issues include housing, education, environmental degradation, crime, unemployment etc. Aid agencies and philanthropists need to gather dweller information such as religious icons, small meeting places, posted bills etc. This information may seem insignificant at a glance but it enables planners to avoid future problems that may derail poverty alleviation efforts (Ravallion, 2007, p. 1).

3.2 Combating environmental degradation

Urban poverty and environmental degradations are highly inter-related and they are regarded to stem from poor development plans. The interrelation is evidenced by the fact that environmental degradation leads to more poverty and the fact that the poor are regarded as the chief agents of environmental degradation.

Poverty alleviation plans should therefore incorporate environmental conservation plans in order to prevent negative effects of environmental degradation from affecting poverty alleviation efforts (Douglass, 1998, p. 1).

3.3 Dealing with Overpopulation

Overpopulation is one of the major contributors of urban poverty. Low-class urban settlements are characterized with congestion that has adverse effects on the economic welfare of the inhabitants of these areas. Poverty alleviation plans must therefore address the issue of overpopulations.

Strategies and plans should be devised to ease out congestion in these areas and reduce the negative effects of overpopulation such as pollution, crime, unemployment, environmental degradation etc. Therefore, aid agencies should develop proper plans for urban settlement management in their efforts to reduce urban poverty (Srinivas, 2010, p. 1).

3.4 Community involvement

To successfully implement the suggested solutions, there is need to involve the community in the development efforts. The community holds the potential to contribute to development plans and therefore, aid agencies should attract community initiative with innovative planning and management.

The community should also be consulted before implementation of development plans to make sure that the plans are in agreement with acceptable community standards. The communities are also characterized with valuable innovations that are instrumental to development plans and therefore their involvement will be very valuable (Douglass, 1998, p. 1).

3.5 Proper resource allocation

There is also the need to devolve significant budgetary allocation to bigger areas in order to impact the cities substantially. Thus, such strategies which increase the impact of urban poverty alleviation should be appropriately set out. There is also the need to harness resources that are prerequisite to development (Masika, 2010, p. 11). Examples of these resources include creativity and innovation, and energy.

Circular cities are also known to be better than linear cities in terms of utilization and recapturing of resources (“Urban poverty”, 2008, p. 1). Therefore, aid agencies should advocate for construction of circular cities if their poverty alleviation plans involve reconstruction.

Conclusion

Poverty has been a major challenge in the urban areas of developing countries, especially those that have problems of overpopulation. The effects of urban poverty have extensively affected urban life in these countries by acting as a catalyst for vices in the societies.

Government agencies in these countries have failed miserably in their efforts to combat this problem. It is, therefore, essential for aid agencies to implement the suggested strategic and precautionary measures before investing in the alleviation of the poverty in these areas.

This will ensure that their efforts are productive. However, the implementation of these strategies and plans may also be faced with problems. One of the problems facing implementation of strategies is the fact that the residents in these areas normally have benchmarks for infrastructure and other facilities from the neighbouring and well-off areas.

This problem is conspicuous in government development projects in which the residents of these areas expect equal treatment and thus expect construction of wide roads, construction of extravagant buildings etc (“Analyzing urban poverty”, 2006, p. 1). The aid agencies, therefore, need to address this problem adequately.

The inhabitants of these areas may also fear relocation by the planning agencies. With reference to the aforementioned challenges, aid agencies and philanthropists should devise proper plans to ensure that their alleviation efforts are appreciated and backed by the poor population (Perlman, Hopkins & Jonsson, 1998, pp. 13 – 17).

Works Cited

Analyzing Urban Poverty. (2006). A Sustainable Approach to Problems in Urban

Squatter Developments. Available from,
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2133057/Urban%20Poverty%203.pdf
[Accessed 1st April, 2010]

Douglass, M. (1998). Britain’s Cities of Yesterday and Tomorrow. Available from, 2010,
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2133057/Urban%20Poverty%201.pdf
[Accessed 1st April, 2010]

Masika, R. (2010). Urbanization and Urban Poverty: A Gender Analysis. Available from,
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2133057/Urban%20Poverty%20%26%20gender.pdf
[Accessed 1st April, 2010]

Perlman. J, Hopkins, E & Jonsson, A. (1998). Urban Solutions at the Poverty/Environment Intersection. Available from,
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2133057/Urban%20Poverty%202.pdf
[Accessed 1st April, 2010]

Ravallion, M. (2007). Urban Poverty. Available from,
http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/fandd/2007/09/ravalli.htm
[Accessed 1st April, 2010]

Srinivas, H. (2010). Urban Development and Urban Poverty. Available from,
http://www.gdrc.org/uem/squatters/urban-poverty.html
[Accessed 1st April, 2010]

Stephen, D. (2008). Breaking the Cycle of Urban Poverty. Available from,
http://www.idrc.ca/en/ev-129440-201-1-DO_TOPIC.html
[Accessed 1st April, 2010]

Practical Action. (2008). Urban poverty. Available from,
http://practicalaction.org/shelter/urbanpoverty_background
[Accessed 1st April, 2010]

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