Samples Science Urban Blight

Urban Blight

420 words 2 page(s)

1. “Urban blight” (also called “urban decay”) refers to the deterioration and disappearance of critical infrastructure at the heart or edge of cities. This includes both “hard” infrastructure – housing, roads, sewers, water supply, electricity, telecommunications – and “soft” infrastructure – services such as education, policing, health care, and child care. Urban blight is occurring within cities in both developed and developing countries, though for different reasons and with somewhat different effects.

In the developed world, cities generally suffer urban decay as a result of deindustrialization and the subsequent depopulation of their cores, leading to high unemployment, poverty, crime, and a bleak landscape of abandoned, crumbling buildings and roads. Exacerbating this effect is so-called “white flight,” which refers to the tendency for more affluent (and generally white) citizens to flee to the more secure and prosperous suburbs, leaving inner cities increasingly populated by the poor and by minorities. This flight by the affluent fuels “exurban” migration, where businesses providing products and service typically found downtown begin moving to the suburbs, feeding a vicious cycle.

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In developing countries, urban blight results from an opposite population movement: floods of people moving into cities from rural areas, seeking employment in growing economies. The huge numbers of people often exceed the city’s ability to accommodate them and they end up forced into slums – or shantytowns – on the outskirts of the city. Poverty, population density, and a lack of infrastructure lead to a number of serious problems in these slums. With inadequate clean water and poor sewage systems, disease proliferates; insufficient employment leads to crime and social unrest; and the filthy, sprawling shantytowns present a depressing visual landscape.

2. People in the shantytowns need basic services: clean water; efficient sewage systems; electricity; and proper, affordable housing. There needs to be more job creation for them within the slums and without, along with public transportation networks that allow better access to the latter. Basic education and medical services need to be provided, in order to curb crime and disease. Slum dwellers often face neglect and discrimination; governments and strong social organizations need to stand together to provide the basic infrastructure and services that will allow this population to integrate with the rest of the city. Segregation is only going to increase the problems and result in the slums growing to unmanageable proportions. With a little investment, these slum dwellers could become productive citizens and contribute to the economy and culture of cities in developing regions.

  • Wright, Richard T. Environmental Science: Towards a Sustainable Future. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2008. Print.

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