Social and Environmental Challenges Facing Megacities Essay

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Overcrowding in Megacities

Cities are increasingly getting larger, which results in the increased emergence of megacities worldwide. Megacities are increasingly emerging in developing nations due to mass urbanization. One of the major contributors to the rise of megacities worldwide is globalization and rapid technological advancements. By increasing connectivity, globalization has contributed to mass urbanization as people look for better environments for their socioeconomic growth and development. Globalization has transformed the nature of urbanization by making people’s movement to become global rather than intra-national rural-urban migration. According to Heyzer et al. (2016) the rise of megacities worldwide is an indicator that humankind is experiencing the highest ever growth in urbanization. While the rise of megacities is associated with some positive impacts relating to economic growth and development, these cities face some challenges due to overcrowding. This paper examines the social and environmental challenges facing megacities due to overcrowding.

Social Challenges Facing Megacities

    Megacities have to deal with many issues related to overcrowding even as mass urbanization continues to result in overpopulation. Egelhof (2010) states that the number of megacities in the world has multiplied over the past five decades to an extent that these cities currently provide a home to approximately 10% of the global urban population. On one hand, megacities are considered as the engines of the global economy since they effectively link flow of goods, people, knowledge, and culture. Additionally, these cities provide unprecedented concentration of technical resources and skills that help to increase wealth and enhance the quality of life to many people. On the other hand, megacities are facing significant challenges despite their role in global economic growth and development. The challenges facing these cities are largely attributable to overcrowding due to mass urbanization. Consequently, overcrowding in megacities has been a source of different challenges ranging from social challenges to environmental problems.

Poor Living Conditions

One of the social challenges facing megacities because of the problem of overcrowding is poor living conditions brought by the various social risks in these cities. Megacities have contributed to the increase in emergence of slums and slum-dwellers, particularly in developing countries.

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Megacities like Manila, Kolkata, Sao Paolo, and Mumbai have witnessed an increase in the number of slum-dwellers due to increase in mass urbanization (Kotkin, 2011). The rise in the number of slum-dwellers is also attributable to the fact that many people, particularly in developing countries, are increasingly choosing overcrowded environments in megacities for their settlement. This has in turn contributed to huge pressures on housing and made it difficult for many to afford and/or access decent housing. In addition, these individuals have been faced by degradations in their physical living conditions despite dwelling in megacities. 

Consequently, Kotkin (2011) states that residents of megacities face huge risks from the socially-caused diseases like urban violence, unsafe living environments, sexually transmitted diseases, and road-related injuries. Moreover, newcomers in these environments face a significantly low life expectancy level in the megacities. Kotkin (2011) suggests that the life expectancy level in megacities is averagely 57 years, which is approximately seven years below the national level of life expectancy in the United States. The social risks that contribute to numerous health challenges to populations in megacities is attributable to the fact that they are not necessarily better places to live despite solid economic growth. For example, in Mumbai, mass urbanization has contributed to inflation in real estate prices, which has forced a substantial number of employed people to live in slums. This has in turn increased the number of slum-dwellers while worsening their living conditions. The conditions have become oppressive enough to an extent that approximately 50% of Mumbai commuters spend between one to two hours to get to their workplace due to traffic congestion. 

Social Tensions

Overcrowding in megacities has become the source of social tensions, which continue to threaten the social fabric of communities living in these cities. Heyzer et al. (2016) states that the social sustainability of megacities should be an issue of major concern to the relevant stakeholders because of the rising social tensions in these cities. They contend that the social sustainability of megacities is a neglected dimension as policymakers and other….....

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Chen, Z., Barros, C.P. & Gil-Alana, L.A 2016. The Persistence of Air Pollution in Four Mega-cities of China. Habitat International, vol. 56, pp.103-108.

Egelhof, J 2010. Megacity Challenges: A Stakeholder Perspective. Siemens AG, viewed 28 September 2018, <>

European Commission 2014. Reducing the Environmental Impact of Megacities. Horizon 2020, viewed 28 September 2018, <>

Heyzer et al. 2016. The Global Rise of Megacities. Singapore Management University, viewed 28 September 2018, <>

Kotkin, J 2011. The Problem With Megacities. Forbes, viewed 28 September 2018, <>

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