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Lecture 6

Week 6 Satterthwaite Reading summary

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Gabrielle Sauter

The Links between poverty and the environment in Urban Areas of Africa, Asian, and Latin America -This article suggests that there is little evidence of urban poverty being a significant contributor to environmental degradation but strong evidence that urban environmental hazards are major contributors to urban poverty. - This shows how environmental degradation is more associated with the consumption patterns of middle and upper-income groups and the failure of governments to implement effective environmental policies than with urban poverty. - The article also highlights how good governance is at the core of poverty reduction and how meeting the environmental health needs of poorer groups need not imply greater environmental degradation. - The need to understand and act on poverty environment linkages in urban areas becomes all the more imperative as urban populations (and the number living in poverty) grow and as the contribution of urban-based production and urban consumption to environmental degradation increases - The trend is toward increasingly urbanized societies in most countries as most new investment is urban based - Africa, Asia, and Latin America also have nearly three-quarters of the world’s urban population and most of the world’s largest and fastest-growing cities. How these urban centers perform in terms of resource use and waste generation has very large implications for sustainable development within their regions and globally. -But in these regions, increasing urbanization levels have also been characterized by growing numbers of people living in poverty - Typically, the inhabitants face multiple deprivations—inadequate food intakes; large health burdens from the illnesses and injuries associated with very poor-quality homes and inadequate water, sanitation, and garbage collection; inadequacies in public transport; difficulties in getting health care and affording medicines; difficulties (and often high costs) of keeping children at school; long hours worked; and the often dangerous working conditions. Many face a constant risk of violence and are threatened with eviction. Many are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather—to flooding because they live on floodplains or beside rivers, to landslides for those living on slopes. Of course, the scale and relative importance of these vary from person to person and place to place, but large sections of the urban population in virtually all low- and middle-income nations face a mix of these deprivations The Scale and Nature of Urban Poverty - The scale and depth of absolute poverty in urban areas of Africa, Asia, and Latin America have long been underestimated for two reasons. The first is that estimates are based only on income levels or consumption levels and take no account of other deprivations such as very poor housing conditions and lack of basic services. The second is that the income-based poverty lines used to make these estimates are set too low in relation to the costs of basic needs in most urban centers -absolute poverty in an urban cotext usually involves 8 interralted sets of deprivations 1. inadequate income 2. indeadquate or risky asset base 3. inadequate shelter 4. inadequate provision of public infrastructure 5. inadequate provision of basic services such as day care, schools. Health care, emergency services etc 6. limited or no safety net to ensure basic consumption can be maintained when income falls 7. Inadeqate protection of poorer groups rights 8. Poorer groups’ voicelesness and powerlessness within political systems and bureaucratic structures - This widening in the definition of urban poverty is also central to understanding the environmental problems associated with poverty because the environmental problems that low-income groups face are often more related to inadequate provision of infrastructure and services, lack of any rule of law, discrimination, and lack of political influence than to a lack of income The Range of environmental problems in Urban Areas -At the core of most misunderstandings about the link between poverty and environment is the confusion between environmental hazards and environmental degradation. In most urban centers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, a high proportion of the poor (however defined) face very serious environmental hazards in their homes and their surrounds and in their workplaces. Such hazards impose large burdens on such groups in terms of ill health, injury, and premature death. These health burdens are a major cause or contributor to poverty. But most of these environmental hazards are not causing environmental degradation. For instance, the inadequacies in provision for piped water, sanitation, and drainage in most low-income neighborhoods often mean very serious problems with insect-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue fever or filariasis and with diseases associated with a lack of water for washing such as trachoma, but these do not degrade any environmental resource. NITTY GRITTY - Improved water and sanitation can bring great benefits in terms of improved health, reduced expenditures (on water vendors and on treatment from diseases), and much reduced physical effort, especially for those who have to collect and carry water from standpipes or other sources far from their shelters - Airborne infections are among the world’s leading causes of death (and easily prevented death). For many, their transmission is aided by overcrowding and inadequate ventilation. While improving housing and other environmental conditions can reduce their incidence (and by reducing other diseases also strengthen people’s defenses against these), medical interventions such as immunization or rapid treatment are more important for reducing their health impact. - Diseases spread by water-related insect vectors are among the most pressing environmental problems in many cities. These include malaria, which in many cities or poor peripheral city districts is one of the main causes of illness and death - Reliable piped water supplies (so households do not need to store water) and good garbage collection can greatly reduce the risk of diseases spread by Aedes mosquitoes. There are also the health problems associated with garbage. It is common for 30 to 50 percent of the solid wastes generated in an urban area not to be collected; usually, the lower-income areas have the least adequate collection service. So wastes accumulate in open spaces and streets, clogging drains and attracting disease vectors and pests (rats, mosquitoes, flies). Inadequate collection also has wider environmental impacts as uncollected wastes are generally washed into water bodies, adding considerably to water pollution and blocking drains. - A recent review of provision for water and sanitation suggests that at least 680 million urban dwellers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America lack adequate provision for water and at l
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