5.3 Impacts of urbanisation
Although people are pulled towards the advantages of cities, the impacts of urbanisation are mixed. First we will look at the many positive impacts of urbanisation before going on to describe some of the challenges created by rapid unplanned urban growth.
Thriving towns and cities are an essential element of a prosperous national economy. The gathering of economic and human resources in one place stimulates innovation and development in business, science, technology and industry. Access to education, health, social services and cultural activities is more readily available to people in cities than in villages. In cities, child survival rates are better than in rural areas because of better access to health care (Mulholland et al., 2008). The density of urban populations makes it easier and less costly for the government and utilities to provide essential goods and services (Brockerhoff, 2000). For example, the supply of basic facilities such as fresh water and electricity can be achieved with less effort and less cost per person.
Schools, colleges and universities are established in cities to develop human resources. A variety of educational courses are available, offering students a wide choice for their future careers. People of many classes and religions live and work together in cities, which creates better understanding and harmony and helps break down social and cultural barriers. Cities also have advanced communication and transport networks.
However, these many benefits of urban life do not apply to all. Rapid population increases and unplanned growth create an urban sprawl with negative economic, social, and environmental consequences. In Ethiopia, the rate of urban growth often strains the capacity of local and national government to provide urban residents with even the most basic services of housing, water supply, sewerage and solid waste disposal (MWUD, 2008).