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Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Mega Cities, Mega Problems

A new study by the World Wildlife Fund paints a bleak picture of the living conditions in the new"mega cities". In Karachi (Pakistan), around 30,000 people die due to the effects of contaminated drinking water, while in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), there are both traces of faeces in drinking water and high concentrations of arsenic in ground water. In the rivers of Buenos Aires, described as "public cesspits", there are high levels of dumped toxins making the Argentine river Matanza-Riachuelo "one of the world’s most polluted waterways". And millions of people in the city lack safe access to drinking water and are not connected to sewer systems. Similarly, in Kenya, the capital city lacks capacity to manage the increasing demand for water. And 60 percent of Nairobi’s inhabitants live in informal settlements with inadequate access to quality water and are forced to buy their water at kiosks at a higher price.

With the forecast suggesting that by 2050, about 70 percent of the world’s population will live in urban areas the report predicts more "horrendous conditions", particularly in relation to water and sanitation.  Zambia of course is not spared from such problems. Already 60 - 70% of urban population live in informal settlements with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water.  The challenges will only get worse with greater urbanisation coupled by poor planning and greater divide between rich and poor. You can read the WWF report here.

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