another bad sentence..

November 20, 2007

via an approving Robert Neuwrith, I learned that Janice Perlman of Mega Cities says:

“The international funding agencies of investment institutions need to give more to urban development and less to rural development,”

because

“I’ve argued that the people who come to the city [and live in squatter developments] are the cream of the crop with the highest ambitions and aspirations. If given the chance, they would build middle-class communities. You can’t blame people for polluting the watershed if you don’t provide them with water infrastructure.”

Yes, destroying squatter development is stupid, so is not providing them with water infrastructure. However, not thinking about the lack of infrastructure on the rural side to explain why people came to live in cities to start with is not much better.The differences between rural and urban areas in access to education, health-care, employment opportunities, clean water are huge. For instance:

“In Cameroon, the ratio of health professionals per acre is 1: 400 in urban areas and 1: 4000 in rural locations, requiring people to travel great distances to find health care in rural areas. This kind of imbalance is just as severe in rural areas of Cambodia, where 85% of the population lives, but where only 13% of health workers are based; and in Angola, where 65% of the population live in rural areas but only 15% of health workers, the vast majority of these having opted for better-paid jobs in urban areas.”

What is not said here is that those imbalances are the result of differences in public spending. Hospitals, schools, water purification facilities are built mostly by governments that also pay doctors, engineers, nurses and teachers. Such inequalities would seem natural and fair if the sources of income of those governments were mostly urban but that’s not always the case. Agricultural and mineral exports are still the major source of public revenue in the developing world and urban economies are either dependant on public service employment or a non-taxed personal service sector or an infrastructure dependant emerging manufacturing sector. Furthermore, countries like Ivory Coast or Zambia are experiencing a reversal of internal migration patterns since public spending and public service recruitment have been frozen and markets liberalized by structural adjustment policies (themselves caused by government’s quasi-bankruptcy).In short, governments have been taking money from rural areas to give to cities. Yet, Janice Perlman thinks urban development should be given more. Then again, the MegaCities Project would benefit from that, wouldn’t it ?

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4 Responses to “another bad sentence..”

  1. Akili Says:

    Palmas meu mano.

  2. Loomnie Says:

    Hmm… I agree with you here. The imbalance between infrastructures in urban and rural areas is wide enough already; any more increase would be simply criminal. By the way, I hope Janice Perlman has visited rural areas in Africa before….

  3. Loomnie Says:

    I have gone to read the piece at Multi-Housing news, and I would assume that she meant that since cities are forecasted to grow enormously in the coming years, it is high time we started paying attention to infrastructural issues in urban slums. Sure, I agree with this; but I certainly do not agree that rural areas should suffer for this.

  4. aflakete Says:

    I don’t know where I read it but the imminent explosive growth is for towns and small cities and like I said, cities, part of the reason those cities grow is the lack of infrastructure and public sending anywhere else.
    but yeah, urban slums need our attention and clearances is vertainly not a solution.


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