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Stunning photos give an insight into world's fastest growing cities

Some stunning images have captured what life is like in some of the fastest developing cities in Africa and Asia - from Dar es Salaam, a city of nearly 5 million in Tanzania, to Chongqing, a sprawling Chinese municipality with a population of over 30 million spread over an area the size of Austria.

The photos were taken by researchers from the GCRF Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC), as part of a study looking into the challenges facing expanding cities in Africa and Asia. 

They will be exhibited at an event in Glasgow as part of the 2018 ESRC Festival of Social Sciences on 7 November.

Professor Jennifer Rubin, ESRC Executive Chair, said: "The Festival of Social Science is one of the largest co-ordinated endeavours undertaken by a science community and demonstrates ESRC's commitment to public engagement. We know social scientists and economists value the opportunity to talk with the public to make an impact with their work. These events should inspire young people to pursue a career in social sciences and raise awareness about the impact made to wider society."

Africa is now the world’s most rapidly urbanising continent, with the UN predicting that the world's 10 fastest growing cities between 2018 and 2035 will all be African. The world's biggest megacities, however will remain Asian - Delhi, Shanghai and Tokyo are each expected to house populations of more than 30 million people by 2030. However whilst this rapid growth could boost these countries' economies, it poses huge logistical problems for authorities. Without housing and infrastructure to support them, people are at risk of being forced into informal 'slum' settlements, which could lack electricity or sanitation systems. Such a large influx of people can also put pressure on health, education and transport systems.

For the last year, researchers at SHLC have been conducting interviews and reviewing data on cities in seven countries - South Africa, Tanzania, Rwanda, India, Bangladesh, China and the Philippines. The aim of the research is to see how different neighbourhoods have adapted to rapid urbanisation, and what impact it has had on cities' housing, transport, health and education systems. Along the way researchers have collected photographs depicting the realities of life in these expanding cities.

Professor Ya Ping Wang, Director of SHLC, University of Glasgow says: "Urbanisation is a driving force for economic growth and social change in Africa and Asia. However the speed of urbanisation varies from country to country. After several decades of rapid expansion, urbanisation in India, China and South Africa is beginning to slow down, while larger capital cities in smaller developing countries continue to grow very fast. For example Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania will be a megacity of 10 million people by 2030."

"Our preliminary research shows that while urbanisation and migration in our case study cities has brought growth, it has also led to a great deal of inequality between different social and economic groups, communities and neighbourhoods. It has also put pressure on education and health systems. The next stage of our project will focus on the internal social and spatial structures of neighbourhoods within these cities to help find practical solutions."

Notes for editors

  1. The photographic exhibition Good in the hood? Fae Glasgow to Kigali will take place in Glasgow on 7 November 2018.
  2. Research project details: GCRF Centre for Sustainable, Healthy, and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (CSHLH)
  3. The 16th annual Festival of Social Science takes place from 3-10 November 2018 with over 300 free events nationwide. Run by the Economic and Social Research Council, the festival provides an opportunity for the public to meet some of the country’s leading social scientists to discover, discuss and debate how research affects their lives. With a range of creative and engaging events going on across the UK, there’s something for everyone including businesses, charities, schools and government agencies. The full programme is available online. Catch up and join in on Twitter using #esrcfestival
  4. You can sign up to SHLC newsletter, or visit the SHLC website
  5. The Centre’s international partners include: Human Sciences Research CouncilIfakara Health InstituteKhulna UniversityNankai UniversityNational Institute of Urban AffairsUniversity of GlasgowUniversity of the Philippines Diliman, University of Rwanda, University of Witwatersrand


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