Environmental problems in an urbanizing world

Local solutions for cities in Africa, Asia and Latin America

Posted: 24 September 2001

Author: Jorge E. Hardoy, Diana Mitlin and David Satterthwaite
Earthscan, London, 2001, £40.00 hb, £15.95 pb

This updated and much expanded edition of the classic, Environmental Problems in Third World Cities, describes environmental problems and their effect on human health, local ecosystems and global cycles.

Environment-related diseases and injuries cause millions of preventable deaths each year. It explains why in many squatter settlements, children are 40 to 50 times more likely to die before the age of five than they would be in Europe or North America and how such deaths are environment-related. It also relates how many cities are also causing serious environmental degradation in their surrounds and increasingly contributing to global warming.

It points to the political causes that underpin many of these problems - including ineffective, unaccountable governments and aid agencies' reluctance to work with the urban poor. It also highlights innovative solutions such as:

  • high quality, low-cost homes and neighbourhoods developed by urban poor groups working with local non-government organizations;
  • Local Agenda 21 programmes developed by municipal governments in partnership with community organizations.

In their analysis, the authors show that cities can meet sustainable development goals. There are practical, affordable solutions to their environmental problems, but most depend on more competent and accountable city governments and on more support for low-income households and their organizations. The book also outlines the changes needed from international aid agencies to support this.