Combating hazards of unsafe cities and human settlements

cITYA basic need of every human being is shelter. While it is possible to live without safe shelter, the quality of life without a safe shelter may be horrible.

Homelessness, unsafe habitation comes with its own cost. Several risks and health hazards are associated with such lifestyle. With good or safe shelter, there can be possible increase in a healthy life. There is also a likelihood of right to personal privacy and security of life.

According to United Nations, 828 million people live in slums today and the number keeps rising. The mad rush for cities where there is a perceived notion of a better life has led to many cities being over populated with its resources being stretched beyond limit.

It is therefore not a surprise that we have slums as well as high number of people living without decent or safe accommodations in many urban settlements. The case is not different for many people who live in semi-urban and underdeveloped world. Many live in habitations that are prone to diseases and several epidemics.

There is no guarantee the spate of rural-urban migration will be reduced. In fact, United Nations statistics show that half of humanity – 3.5 billion people – lives in cities today. By 2030, almost 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. 

The danger is that the world’s cities occupy just 2% of the Earth’s land, but account for 60 – 80% of energy consumption and 75% of carbon emissions. Though the story is not all that of woes if human can leverage technology which has capacity to reduce all forms of emissions and combat public health related issues.

The new Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 11 is to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. This, therefore, calls for concerted efforts which may include the followings:

Create habitable non-urban mini cities: one of the reasons for the rush to the cities is traceable to the possibilities of enjoying a better standard of living in these cities. Government can create, open up many mini cities with the same quality of amenities. 

Investment in quality low cost housing: Governments and corporate organizations should be committed to investing in low cost houses which can cater for the rising population. 

Develop and annex technology: There is urgent need to develop as well as annex new technology to address huge emission, human waste management in many of the urban cities. With this done, human habitation will be less vulnerable to health hazards which are products of human and industrial emissions.