Brazil has one of the fastest growing economies in the world. It is becoming increasingly popular in the sectors of industry and tourism, and its population numbers continue to escalate. This type of growth invariably leads to urbanisation, which refers to the development of urban areas and the migration of people from rural areas into the city centres.
However, this has the reciprocal effect of expanding these hubs further and further outwards, until they begin to encroach on previously rural areas themselves.
There are various reasons for which people move to city centres, such as Rio de Janeiro. These include:
• More job opportunities (real or perceived) in cities
• A better quality of education and health care in established towns
• There is more to see and do in the big cities
• Drought and other adverse weather conditions may make a rural way of life impossible or unviable
• Civil war has pushed many to seek life in the urban hubs
• The mechanisation of agriculture has left families with no work or opportunities in the rural areas
The problem with such rapid urbanisation, though, is that the cities do not have the time or resources to accommodate and employ these people. Therefore, the migrants arrive to find themselves living in poor conditions and fighting for a degree of quality of life.
This has led to informal settlements, called shanty towns or favelas, being established around the urban centres. In fact, in Rio de Janeiro alone, there are approximately 2 million favela inhabitants.
The problem with such rapid urbanisation, though, is that the cities do not have the time or resources to accommodate and employ these people. Therefore, the migrants arrive to find themselves living in poor conditions and fighting for a degree of quality of life. This has led to informal settlements, called shanty towns or favelas, being established around the urban centres. In fact, in Rio de Janeiro alone, there are approximately 2 million favela inhabitants.
Favelas are not suitable solutions to the rising urban population, though. They present many health and safety problems. They are:
• Built on hills that are too steep to support homes safely.
• Made of cardboard, corrugated iron or scrap wood, offering little protection from the elements.
• Lacking in water, electricity or a safe means of sanitation.
• Far from shops, schools or transportation routes.
• Usually inhabited by large families that have many children.
• Prone to disease outbreaks due to bad sanitation.
• Susceptible to crime and violence due to a desperate lack of money as well as the thriving drug trafficking industry.
In fact, the geographical split of the wealthy and the poor within one area is a common characteristic of urbanisation.
Unemployment and poverty are major issues of urbanisation. Another enormous problem for those living in the favelas of Brazil is the rapid spread of diseases and the distinct lack of adequate health care. These issues have to be addressed for the progress and development of a country like Brazil.
The following initiatives are being implemented in some areas to improve these conditions at the moment:
• New housing structures are being built from bricks and breeze blocks, which are more stable and safe than the informal shacks.
• Homes are being equipped with electricity and water.
• The city councils are assisting the locals to build shops and schools near to or within the favelas.
• Clinics are being built in and around the shanty towns for their inhabitants.
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