Rio is on the south east coast of Brazil, in South America. It is about 900 kilometres away from the capital of Brazil, Brasilia and about 400 kilometres away from Sao Paulo (the biggest city in the southern hemisphere). Rio is the second largest city in Brazil, with a population of about 18 million. Rio de Janeiro is one of the world’s megacities and because of this it is a large attraction to many people that may be looking to move into the big city. This is causing expansion on a huge scale in the city, called urban growth.
Throughout the rest of the essay I will be going into detail on the benefits and problems of urban growth and I will also look at any possible solutions to the issues of urban growth. There are lots of reasons why people may want to move into Rio causing urban growth. People may just be moving from city to city for work purposes, they may be after the great climate, golden beaches, stunning scenery or Latin – American culture that Rio has to offer, or the most common reason is rural urban migration.
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This is when rural farmers or field workers move to the city for what they believe will be a more prosperous future, whether they are looking for steady, decent work or just more social entertainment. And most urban rural migrants will get some kind of work and gain some kind of social and community spirit. However, there are problems when this happens, because of the rapid expansion on the city, there is no space left to build on. This is because of the physical constraints around the city, on one side is the sea and on the other mountains.
This lack of space means that more and more people have to live in Favelas. A Favela is a residential area of sixty families or more living in accommodation that lacks basic services i. e. running water, electricity and sewerage, and who own no right to the land on which they live. The accommodation usually consists of any materials available such as wood and corrugated iron. There are over six hundred Favelas in Rio; one of the biggest is Rocinha.
Favelas can be very dangerous places, as they are usually built on hills, when it rains mud slides can devastate and destroy whole Favelas, leaving thousands without any type of shelter. But its not just the possibility of mud slides that make them dangerous places to be, it’s the levels of crime as well. Rio has got some real problems with organised crime and theft around the slums and Favelas, so much so that parents are scared to let their children play on the streets and tourists are told not to take valuables with them to the beach, this also all links in with the drugs trade.
All this is not helped by a corrupt and incompetent police force with a reputation for shooting beggars on the streets etc. However, people from these areas say that the problems are getting better. The living conditions are also getting better in these poorer areas of Rio de Janeiro. Due to several schemes and projects going on within the city, one of these is the self-help housing scheme in Rocinha. The residents within Rocinha have slowly transformed the large Favela into a small city in itself.
Some residents have managed to set up shops and even small industries along with places of entertainment. Much of the accommodation has been improved as well, using brickwork and tiles. Local authorities in addition have added luxuries like electricity, paved and lit some of the steep streets, added water pipes and satellite TV has even found its way there. Another one of the projects is the local authority Favela Bairro project. This is where the city is spending around 200 million pounds on improving lots of the Favelas around the city.
The scheme has targeted more mid sized ones as they are easier and cheaper to tackle as well as some of them being more visible to well off and tourist areas. Another solution to these troubles lays a short while outside the city in the form of a much smaller but very rapidly growing city called Barra da Tijuca. This is helping because many of Rio’s wealthy inhabitants are moving out of Rio, and into Barra, this process is called counterurbanisation.
This smaller city is far more desirable than Rio as it is cleaner, more accessible, less congested and safer – children can play on streets, security is taken very serious around buildings etc. Looking back, on one hand I think the urban growth of Rio de Janeiro is good, because it opens up opportunities for poor urban – rural migrants to achieve a decent standard of living and can also be good for the economy of Brazil.
But on the other hand, it is bad as well because the citizens and city are getting over crowded and the standard of living dropping, resulting in higher crime rates etc. So, on balance I’d say that the urban growth in Rio de Janeiro is a bad thing. In the next 20 years I think that more smaller cities will pop up around Rio like Barra, causing lots of counterurbanisation. And maybe there will be a smaller city like Barra but less posh and more standard for all the citizens of the Favelas to go.