A painful story of megacities

WW Rostow is a pioneer of stages of economic growth and modern development approach that is also known as a modernisation approach. The well-known Rostow’s five stages of growth are explained in terms of traditional society, transition, take-off, maturity and mass consumption. In today’s unequally divided society, a big chunk of the global population are struggling in the traditional stage (agricultural society) and some in the affluent society are enjoying in mass consumption stage. The basic principle of this approach is, an economy can pass through the five stages from traditional to mass consumption as a process of industrialisation of agriculture and massive urbanisation.

WW Rostow’s five stages of growth | Image: Jesi for Income5co

While describing the stages, it seems, the important aspects of sustainable development that is eco-system were missing. Due to what, the approach was challenged by the report of the Brundtland Commission, which has underlined the importance of sustainable development by preserving natural resources to regenerate the power of the ecosystem. That is conceptualised that “…the ‘environment’ is where we live, and ‘development’ is what we all do in attempting to improve our lot within that abode. The two are inseparable.”  Similarly, the commission focused its attention on the areas of population, food security, the loss of species and genetic resources, energy, industry, and human settlements – realizing that all of these are connected and cannot be treated in isolation one from another”. The report highlighted that “sustainable development is the kind of development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 

However, in contrast, I have shared a YouTube video about the true story of megacities how they are suffering from the development approach. Please watch the story- 

MEGACITIES of the World

The development we designed and achieved yesterday shocking us how to cope with the stress and risks associated. We have been facing massive problems such as inequality, climate severity, migration and population messed up. Those problems are entangled in our society with health, education, poverty, transportation and so on. So, it is bizarre that, according to the video clips, “the inefficient development approach of urbanisation and industrialisation where fleets of water tanks drive to deliver water house to house that is an expensive way to live in the mega cities. And, low-income families have to spend 10 per cent of their monthly income for just ten gallons of water per person per day.” The land has encroached, water has been depleted and the environment has been polluted! And the humanity has been pushed to the bank leaving limited alternatives.   

This is the modernisation development approach we believe in. The obvious question arises that: are we preserving humanity or endangering them in a way losing a nexus of water, land and environment that risks ultimately food, the most important things for humanity. The situation has forced me to remember an elimination of the Maya civilisation in Sixteen century, a Mesoamerican rich civilisation developed by Maya people. So, we have to be rush to change the way of development approach, where we are heading to, by taking a U-turn for the ultimate interest of humanity and well-being rather than materialised profit prioritisation. Let’s work towards establishing a value of ‘equal share’ of natural resource to regenerate its highest productivity and service capability. If it is late to work through, the inflaming unrest will lead the socio-economic, political instability to uncontrolled migration seeking peace and opportunities; ultimately conflict and war. 

The country has not brought those bitter experience into the mainstream to change the mind and approach of development. 

Let’s take the example of Nepal, an underdeveloped country lies between big economic giants China and India, how the issues of development are being addressed. According to its planning, Nepal is aspiring to graduate from the least developed country (LDC) to a middle-income country by 2030, the SDG indicators set by the government of Nepal will help in achieving these goals (UNFPA Nepal, 2017). As per the census 2011, “only 19 per cent of the total population was residing in 58 municipalities. The number of municipalities in 2014 was only 58, but haphazardly, the number of municipalities had been reached 217 in 2015 without considering a need for the extension of facilities. Headcount was the only a basis of announcing those municipalities. According to a survey, if all the people living in these municipalities are taken into consideration, the total urban population of Nepal stands at 42 per cent. People who have the same livelihood before and after announcing the municipalities are forced to pay more service charges to the local authority in the name of urbanisation (Municipality) (Kathmandu Post, 2016)  

The trend of land encroachment in Nepal | Source: Wagle, 2018, (original source: Ishtiaque, et.al. 2017)

The country has been announced a federal state from its constitution in 2015. And now, Nepal’s federalism has aimed to achieve more cities i.e. houses, roads, schools, hospitals, cinema halls, shopping malls and so on. As we can view and investigate the story of Kathmandu, a so-called city, how it has been risked from unplanned housing, depleting water (Bagmati and Bisnumati), polluting environment (million tonnes of garbage, dust, carbon dioxide and GHG emission) and urban poverty (the inflow of migrants to urban areas is 45 per cent of the total urban population (Bakrania, 2015.) since it has been stepped up for the modernisation. Yet, the country has not brought those bitter experience into the mainstream of changing mind and approach of development.

Kathmandu Boudhanath area: Yesterday

Unplanned Kathmandu today: An elusive development


W.W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto

Top Documentary Films | MEGACITIES of the World – Season 1 Complete

Kathmandu Post, 2016 http://kathmandupost.ekantipur.com/news/2016-05-28/42-percent-population-lives-in-urban-centres-economic-survey.html  

UNFPA Nepal, 2017. Population Situation Analysis of Nepal (With Respect to Sustainable Development) https://nepal.unfpa.org/sites/default/files/pub-pdf/Nepal%20Population%20Situation%20Analysis.pdf  

Shivit Bakrania, 2015 . Urbanisation and urban growth in Nepal  http://www.gsdrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/HDQ1294.pdf  

3 thoughts on “A painful story of megacities

  1. My view, is that the development of megacities stems from stripping subsistence farmers of their land, which is their sole means of supporting themselves. To keep from starving, they migrate to cities in the hope of finding work. Even though most do not end up in employment, they at least have a chance of surviving by begging on the streets.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. True! Thank you, nice to read your thoughts on blog after a long. Have great weekend 🙂


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