Subscribe Now January 01, 2013 at 10:07am
Davao City is on the verge of turning into a bustling metropolis and with the influx of foreign and local business investors, the numbers are on its side. More than 200 of the country’s top companies operate in the city.
Teolulo Pasawa, chief of the city field office of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said property development remains as one of the fastest growing industries in the city, noting several building constructions in the city centers.
“I am expecting more real estate development projects, especially high-rise projects. As you can see, there are only few high-rise developments that have been put up in Davao City so far,” he said.
The DTI chief said the coming in of new investors to Davao City only shows that there are still lots of opportunities and untapped markets in real estate development. He added that with the tight competition among developers, people living in the city can expect better innovations in the industry.
Indeed, Davao City is booming – and so are other cities in other parts of Asia, where one-third of the population now lives in the cities, according to the Washington-based Population Reference Bureau (PRB).
While only 43 percent in Southeast Asia reside in urban areas, the Philippines overshot the percentage. In mid-2012, 63 percent of Filipinos live in the cities, the PRB’s World Population Data Sheet showed.
Yes, Filipinos are flocking to the cities looking for brighter tomorrow. It has always been this way since time immemorial. “The city first took form as a home of God: a place where eternal values were represented and divine possibilities revealed. Though the symbols have changed, the realities behind them remain,” wrote Lewis Munford in The City in History.
The world’s urban population is expected to grow by 2.6 billion people between 2011 and 2050, bringing the total number of urbanites to 6.3 billion, according to new research conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based Worldwatch Institute.
“This urban expansion will be especially burdensome for developing countries, where 82 percent of the world’s population currently lives,” wrote Grant Potter, author of the institute report.
The vast majority of the urban growth within the developing world is projected to occur in Asia. “A characteristic feature of Asian urbanization is the prevalence of ‘megacities’ that are home to more than 10 million people,” Potter pointed out.
In 2011, there were 23 such cities worldwide, 13 of which were Asian (including Tokyo, Bangkok, and Manila). By 2025, the total number of megacities is expected to reach 37 – with 21 in Asia alone.
“Southeast Asia is the most densely settled sub-region in Asia, with approximately 16,500 people per square kilometer (compared with only 4,345 people per square kilometer in Europe in 2000),” the report said.
What should interest the Davao City government is this statement: “Cities, especially in the developing world, must find a way to provide essential services to their ever-increasing populations. When cities fail to meet these essential needs on a large scale, they create areas known as slums, where households typically lack safe drinking water, safe sanitation, a durable living space, or security of a lease.”
According to United Nations HABITAT, 828 million people in developing-world cities are considered slum dwellers – one in every three residents. Slum populations are expected to grow significantly in the future, and UN projects that 6 million more people live in slums every year.
Another UN agency – the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO) – has identifies the rapid increase of urban populations, especially slum populations, as the most important issue affecting health in the 21st century.
WHO cites overcrowding, lack of safe water, and improper sanitation systems as the primary factors contributing to poor health among the urban poor. “Slums often become breeding grounds for diseases like tuberculosis, dengue, pneumonia, and cholera, and slum dwellers contract water-borne or respiratory illnesses at much higher rates than people in rural areas do,” Potter surmised.
“If we want to build a better world we have to understand better what the urban poor experience,” says Professor Diana Mitlin of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and the University of Manchester. “We have to understand what it means to have little income and face income, spatial, social and political inequalities. Only then can governments, development agencies and community organizations work with the urban poor to improve their options.”
Prof. Mitlin is the co-author of the just-recently published Urban Poverty in the Global South. Drawing on more than 20 years of research, the book shows how policymakers and development organizations underestimate urban poverty – and why this can lead to poor policies that fail to address injustice and inequality.
Governments and aid agencies often fail to understand and provide for the urban poor because of the way they define and measure poverty, using systems based on the ‘US$1 per day poverty line.’
“This greatly understates the scale and depth of urban poverty because in so many cities, non-food needs such as accommodation, water and access to toilets, schools and employment cost much more than a dollar a day,” IIED said in a statement in connection with the release of the book. “Set a poverty line too low and poverty seems to disappear, especially in high cost locations. Such simplistic measures also take no account of the full dimensions of what poverty actually means to people who live it.”
On top of health problems which most of the urban poor face daily, they also have little voice and few means to influence the policies and pressures that work against their interests.
“The fates of the billion-plus people who live in poverty in towns and cities worldwide will have a major impact on human development,” says co-author David Satterthwaite, a senior fellow. “But until decision-makers better understand how and why urban poverty exists, their actions will only ensure that it persists.”
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