ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY STRATEGY FOR REDUCING HEALTH RISKS IN URBAN AREAS
1.1 Background of Study
Today, there is no doubt that the world has increasingly become urban and the 20 century witnessed rapid and unprecedented urbanization of the world’s population. The global urban population increased from 13% in 1900 to 29% in 1950, 49% in 2005 and it is estimated that by 2030, 60% of the population will live in the cities. This trend is a reflection of the growth of urban population that increased from 220 million in 1900 to 732 million in 1950 and is expected that there will be 4.9 billion urban dwellers by 2030 (annual urban growth rate of 1.8%). Almost all of this growth will be in lower income regions of Africa and Asia where urban population is likely to triple and in Asia will more than double. Of all the regions of the world, Asia and Africa are urbanizing faster and are projected to become 56% and 64% urban, respectively by 2050. Three countries; Nigeria, India, and China combined are expected to account for 37% of the projected growth of the world population between 2014 and 2050. At the beginning of the 20 century, just 16 cities in the world (mostly in developing nations) contained a million people or more. Today, more than 400 cities have a population of a million or more, about 70% of them are found in developing countries. For the first time in history, in 2007, more people live in cities and towns than will be living in rural areas and by 2017, the developing nation is likely to have become more urban in character than rural. While, there is no universal definition of what constitutes urban settlement, the criteria for classifying an area as urban may be based on one or a combination of characteristics as human population threshold, population density, proportion employed in non-agricultural sectors, presence of infrastructures such as paved roads, electricity, piped water or services, and presence of education and health services. On the other hand, urbanization denotes a process whereby a society changes from a rural to urban way of life or redistribution of populations to urban settlements associated with development and civilization. For millennia, urban areas have been centres and drivers of commercial, scientific, political and cultural life, having a major influence on the whole countries and regions. The Nigerian society is undergoing both demographic transition (people are living longer) and epidemiological transition (change in population health due to changes in lifestyle) mainly as a result of urbanization.