Urbanization refers to the shifting of people from rural to urban areas, or it may refer to the ratio of the total national population residing in urban areas. It can also be defined as the process of formation of cities or towns, thereby increasing the area with the subsequent addition of people settling there. Predictions say that by 2050, about 86% of developed countries and 64% of developing countries will be urbanized. The parameter of urbanization can be either the level of urban development compared to the total population or the rate of increase of the proportion of the urban population. Opportunities vary in rural and urban areas and, people move to cities to improve their living standards. But there are advantages and disadvantages of urbanization and, here, we shall discuss some of them,
Advantages of urbanization
1. Basic amenities
Compared to rural areas, people who live in cities have easy access to basic amenities like hospitals, water, and electricity. The availability of clean drinking water in villages has always been an issue. Electricity in villages gets affected due to its increased usage in cities. Healthcare is also not up to the mark in rural areas. Though government puts in extra effort, urban areas are far more efficient in these sectors.
People living in urban areas get an advantage of a good education. Primary School to higher studies in cities is easy. Students of rural areas need to come to urban areas for higher studies. Here they get advanced transport and communication system that help them to persuade the studies. Online study is part and parcel of today’s education and, rural areas have resources to support this. Students in urban areas have availed the benefit whereas, rural people have suffered in these pandemic conditions.
Employment opportunities are abundant in the cities. The growth of urbanization is mainly because of people moving to cities for employment. The density of industries and factories has always attracted people from rural areas. Also, the industrialist and real estate people call for manpower from the villages, when in need of labor. The easy and better life in urban areas supports the people to work efficiently.
Rural people engaged in farming appreciate living near cities. Urbanization presents a big market for their produce. They can sell it and earn money. It improves the economic condition and is also advantageous for the economy of the country. A proportion of the population living in the rural area works in agriculture farms and nourishes a larger proportion of urban people, thereby, ensuring food security.
5. Sociocultural unity
People living in urban areas come from different regions, carrying different religions and caste. They live and work in the same place, which reduces the conflicts among them because they understand each other while living together. People practice tolerance in cities, hence more number of cities leads to fewer conflicts. Urbanization boosts unity among people of a country also in terms of social and cultural aspects.
Disadvantages of urbanization
In developed countries, cities with a high density of fast food stores and low density of fresh ones are food deserts. Urbanization makes life easier but at the cost of low nutrition, which ends in obesity, diabetes, and chronic disorders. That happens because people take less of vegetables, fresh fruits and, whole grains, and more processed food and high sugar contents like beverages. To an extent, supplements may control undernutrition, but the problem of being overweight remains unsolved.
2. Water quality
Urbanization leads to the eutrophication of water bodies. In simple words, rainwater passing through polluted air filters carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases to the ground, ultimately carrying them to water bodies. These pollutants degrade the water quality that harms the water ecosystem. It also prepares the ground for algal blooms. Besides marine life, animal and human life also get affected when they drink contaminated water.
Crime and urbanization go hand in hand. The high density of population, income inequality, gap between rich and poor are few factors of high crime rate in urban areas. More population means more goods. It is the ideal condition for crime because it becomes easier. The low-income group develops a feeling of deprivation seeing the high-class people that provokes crime. Migration is yet another cause of criminal activities. People forcefully living in urban areas, if unable to cope with the change, indulge in crime.
4. Food waste
Urbanization indeed provides a market for farm produce but, it is also a cause of food waste. It occurs due to unused, expired, or unfit food for consumption. The reason is the rapid growth of communities. This addition to landfills causes land pollution and ground for many diseases-causing factors like rodents and other microorganisms. An increase in methane gas production due to the fermentation of food waste is hazardous for the environment.
Air, land and water pollution level in cities is higher than that of rural areas. Broadly speaking the air gets polluted due to industries and factories, the land gets polluted due to deforestation, and an increase in the amount of cement forest and water as explained earlier. Open space and the simple life of rural areas bestow a pollution-free environment. Urbanization brings many people to smaller areas, increasing the scarcity of resources and basic amenities. It causes unhygienic conditions and reasons for various diseases.