Brazil’s mega city, Sal Paolo is a victim of rapid urbanization. This has been going on for well over 50 years. Urbanization has had a traumatic impact on those living in the Sao Paolo. Immigrants are the one who have been affected the most by this versatile urbanization. They generally live alongside factories or on the roads without proper shelter. Commonly known as ‘squatters’, these immigrants don’t own their land legally. This has resulted in a large number of shanties sprouting all over Sao Paolo.
The conditions of the shanty’s (‘Favelas’ as they are better known in Brazil) are very poor. Water borne diseases are rampant, unemployment is the norm of the day and a proper sewage system is non existent. Overall, rapid urbanization has had an impact on major sectors which we will look at right now:
1.Housing: They are generally shacks made from wood, cardboard, tiles or corrugated iron. The houses are really small; some may have at most, two rooms with it. Of course, the actual area of the house is close to nothing. There could be a family of 3-7 members living in a house that size. Most houses lack the basic amenities such as water, electricity, hygiene and toilets. There are so many people living here that the space is not big enough to accommodate them. With no room for expansion and garbage all over the place, this is certainly a pitiful sight.
2.Health: Rapid Urbanization has also led to numerous health problems in the shanties. Without a proper sewage system in place, waste runs down the streets which eventually lead to Typhoid and Dysentery. Hospitals are very rare and even if there are any, medical care is unaffordable for those living there. A simple solution would be to cut down on the amount of shanties, but unfortunately urbanization is taking place too quickly to enable the government to do anything.
3.Education: The lack of schools in the areas makes education a distant dream. Children are brought up with limited skills and most of them are even illiterate. A proper education costs money which is certainly a problem here. Being illiterate, finding a proper job is next to impossible. This is what takes young children to the streets; cleaning shoes or selling fruits.
4.Family life: All factors listed above are either directly or indirectly involved in a sensitive family life. Marriages are under constant threat, crime is on the rise and teenagers often make their ways to the city’s commercial areas and add to the already growing list of street children there.
5.Transportation: Roads are not developed in these areas and often rely on mud tracks. With all the garbage dumped on the side and open drains around the place, navigation on the roads poses a different problem altogether. Public transport is unreliable and the roads unstable.
As you can see, rapid urbanization is having a disastrous effect on the citizens living there below the poverty line.
However, not all living here are poor. There are quite a number of rich people here who enjoy the comfort and privileges living in the city. Urbanization is a process which tends to affect everything in its way. Urbanization affects the people, who in turn move towards a better life. The number of shanties builds up and it’s the government who needs to find a solution to this mess. It’s a domino effect, really!
Remarkably, the government has devised a ‘Self-Help’ scheme that involves sensible and cost-effective housing solutions. In this scheme, the government looks after the raw material (e.g. Cement, bricks, sand, etc.) for the house and the people do the building. By far, this is one of the most positive effects we have seen in Sao Paolo.
It’s safe to say that the rate at which Sao Paolo has urbanized has had an immense effect on the social and political structure. Despite this, the city has been making an effort to control urbanization. Then again there is a limit to what can be done, and this is beyond the power of the government. It’s a mega city and will continue facing this crisis until it’s a can of sardines and no one else can move in.