Urban Development : Daunting Task In Sprawling Cities

Many neighbourhoods in the country are yet to have access to basic commodities as well as a means of mobility around the town.

The search for greener pastures among other factors has pulled people to cities. Statistics from the United Nations (UN) indicate that half of the global population already lives in cities, and by 2050 two-thirds of the world's people are expected to live in urban areas. Such is the situation in some cities in Cameroon such as Douala and Yaounde, where these cities are growing out, rather than growing up. Many houses are in slums and informal settlements at the city’s periphery. Poverty, traffic congestion, no basic commodities, no city planning, etc

Lack of Basic Commodities

Yaounde, just like Douala and other major cities in the world are currently overcrowded with many people living in neighbourhoods with little or no basic commodity such as water and energy. Besides insufficient water availability, there is also the problem of poor water quality and disposal of liquid and solid wastes. As the city of Yaounde is spreading, the water and energy supply agencies are currently struggling to provide water, sanitation and electricity. Citizens are relying on informal service provision-such as private water trucks and waste collectors that can charge up to 30 times more than city agencies. Others go without these services and depend on boreholes which end up affecting their health and overall quality of life. Only the well-off in such neighbourhoods can afford these strategies, leaving many urban residents under-served.

Mobility Problems

As towns explode into a sprawling megacity, services like paved roads, pure air and movement have become a major problem. Because many lower- income families have moved to city’s periphery in search of affordable housing, moving to and from such areas is a nightmare. Most of these areas do not have tarred roads and moving into the city centre is more difficult for such people as they most at times depend on urban transportation which barely exists in the country. There is also an increase in air pollution, mostly driven by heavy use of private cars and trucks. This creates immense social and economic costs, such as health impact and crop damage. Families at a city’s edge spend twice much money and three times as much time commuting from home to jobs, schools, hospitals and other areas.

Haphazard Construction of Houses

The unmanaged land expansion in most cities around has exacerbated lawless construction of houses. It is common to move around the city of Yaounde and see houses from a distance without knowing how to trace your path to them. More difficult is moving within such neighbourhoods especially as the houses are built haphazardly. Inhabitants in such neighbourhoods have found themselves before the court because one is accusing the other for building in front of his house, thereby blocking the road to his residence. A strong city planning is needed.

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