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Mega-Cities and a Planet of Slums

Posted by Maureen Monday, April 28, 2008 Labels: ,

Kibera, Nairobi. Photo courtesy Toby Lunn.

Here is another fascinating tidbit from one of my classes, "Global Cities." Note the last sentence and the author's claim to the implications this sort of inward migration could have on the Earth.

This is an excerpt from Planet of Slums by Mike Davis (courtesy of New Left Review, Vol. 26, 2004):

Ninety-five per cent of this final buildout of humanity will occur in the urban areas of developing countries, whose population will double to nearly 4 billion over the next generation.
(Indeed, the combined urban population of China, India and Brazil already roughly equals that of Europe plus North America.) The most celebrated result will be the burgeoning of new megacities with populations in excess of 8 million, and, even more spectacularly, hypercities with more than 20 million inhabitants (the estimated urban population of the world at the time of the French Revolution). In 1995 only Tokyo had incontestably reached that threshold. By 2025, according to the Far Eastern EconomicReview, Asia alone could have ten or eleven conurbations that large, including Jakarta (24.9 million), Dhaka (25 million) and Karachi (26.5 million). Shanghai, whose growth was frozen for decades by Maoist policies of deliberate under-urbanization, could have as many as 27 million residents in its huge estuarial metro-region. Mumbai (Bombay) meanwhile is projected to attain a population of 33 million, although no one knows whether such gigantic concentrations of poverty are biologically or ecologically sustainable.

Per Davis's title and the thesis of his book, this mass urban population growth leads to an enormous and uncontrollable amount of slums in the world's cities. The photo above is of Kibera, the second-largest slum in Sub-Saharan Africa, located right smack dab in the middle of Nairobi, Kenya.