Asian Cities Face Environmental Crises

A growth rate of 70% in Asia's urban centers will impact environment.

Asia's urban population is expected to hit 2.6 billion over the next 25 years, a growth rate of 70%, placing severe strain on services, according to a book jointly published by the Asian Development Bank.

As more and more rural people migrate to the cities for work, traffic congestion and pollution will get worse, urban quality of life will deteriorate and poverty will increase, according to the book "Urbanization and Sustainability in Asia." The book, released this week, said 44 million people are added to Asia's urban population every year.

"Overcrowding has become endemic in many cities," the book, edited by two University of Canberra professors Brian Roberts and Trevor Kanaley, said. "Urban poverty, associated with unemployment and lack of access to adequate housing and services, is an increasing social problem," it added. With the exception of Singapore no country in Asia has solved its urban housing problem, the book said.

"The most challenging problem facing Asian cities is meeting the demand for and maintaining urban infrastructure to provide access to good quality, affordable and reliable services.

"The continuation of present practices and levels of investments could well see the sustainability of many Asian cities undermined," said the book, co-published by a group called Cities Alliance. These population centers could face "periodic urban environmental crises, and gradual erosion of quality of life for the majority of urban populations," it added.

The book urged major improvements in efficiency and management, citing lessons learned from efforts such as environmental improvement, waste recycling, infrastructure improvements and city planning in a number of Asian cities.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2006

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