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Urban growth in LICs and NEEs Case Study – City in a Newly Emerging Economy (NEE) – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Key idea Specification content
Urban growth creates opportunities and challenges for cities in LICs and NEEs. A case study of a major city in an LIC or NEE to illustrate:

• the location and importance of the city, regionally, nationally and internationally • causes of growth: natural increase and migration • how urban growth has created opportunities: • social: access to services – health and education; access to resources – water supply, energy • economic: how urban industrial areas can be a stimulus for economic development • how urban growth has created challenges: • managing urban growth – slums, squatter settlements • providing clean water, sanitation systems and energy • providing access to services – health and education • reducing unemployment and crime • managing environmental issues – waste disposal, air and water pollution, traffic congestion.

An example of how urban planning is improving the quality of life for the urban poor.

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Fact file – Rio de Janeiro

Population: 12 million (2017).

23% of the population live in over 600 favelas.

Location: south-east coast.

Reasons for growth: rural-urban migration and natural population increase.

Former capital city of Brazil (now Brasilia).

Major tourist attractions: Copacabana Beach, Sugar Loaf Mountain and statue of Chris the Redeemer.

Hosted Football World Cup (2014) and the Olympic Games (2016)

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Rio de Janeiro is a major city in Brazil (South America). It is the cultural capital of Brazil and has many exciting and important features, namely:

  • It is the second most important industrial centre in Brazil and a major port for exports.
  • Services industries including banking and finance, secondary industries include the manufacture of chemicals, clothing and furniture.
  • The city is surrounded by mountains and amazing beaches, making it one of the most visited places.
  • The statue of Christ the Redeemer is one of the Seven New Wonders of the World.
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Land-use model for a Rio (LICs and NEEs)

Challenges in Rio – Social, economic and environmental 

Social challenges: Rio de Janeiro has many urban challenges made worse by the inequalities within the city. Rapid growth in recent years because migration from rural areas to the city has put huge pressure on the services and amenities. Migrants have been attracted to Rio due to job opportunities, higher wages, and better services like schools and hospitals. Rio has a number of shanty town settlements (favelas) that house the many rural migrants who come to the city. These informal settlements (favelas) are unplanned and spontaneous developments often growing up on poor quality land. Residence have no legal land ownership. Houses are built using cheap materials and many people are crammed into a small area leading to overcrowding with no clean water or sewage disposal. There are no schools or hospitals, few job opportunities and a high level of disease and illness.

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Health care: Problem –  health services have been very poor, especially for pregnant women and the elderly. Half the population doesn’t have a local clinic. Solution – medical staff have gone into the favela and visited peoples homes to detect and treat diseases. Infant mortality has fallen and life expectancy has increased.

Education: Problem – only half of the children continued education beyond 14 years due to a shortage of schools, lack of money, shortage of teachers and lack of training and pay for teachers. Solution – authorities have improved access to education by encouraging people to volunteer in schools, giving grants to schools for poor children and providing free sports activities.

Water supply: Problem – around 12% of the population had no access to running water. The water supply system has leaky pipes and water shortages are caused by droughts. Solution – new treatment plants and water pipes have been built. Improvements have been made in the favelas so 95% of the population had a mains water supply by 2014.

Energy: Problem – Blackouts occur due to power cuts. There is a lack of safety in favelas as people illegally tap into the electricity supply. Solution – new power lines have been installed. Nuclear power generation and hydro electric power (HEP) will increase electricity to Rio by 30%.

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Economic challenges and opportunities: as the cities industrial areas have grown, they have brought economic prosperity to Rio and have helped to improve the infrastructure with roads, transport and services all being developed. Large companies have been attracted to the city and this has created more economic opportunities and a more formal economy (where people work to receive a regular wage and are assured certain rights e.g. paid holidays, sickness leave. Wages are taxed).

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Positive effects of economic growth in Rio: * second most important industrial city in Brazil, * the city provided 6 % of the whole counrty’s employment, * one of the highest incomes per person in the country, * types of employment include – oil, retail, finance, steel, construction, tourism and manufacturing.

Negative effects of economic growth in Rio: * recession in 2015 increased unemployment, * there is a wide gap between the rich and poor (wages), * high unemployment in the favelas, most people in the favelas work in the informal economy (drivers, street vendors, maids) * informal jobs are low paid, have irregular hours and no contracts, * crime rates are high in the favela especially drug trafficking, murders, kidnapping and robbery.


Gap between rich and poor in Brazil

Solutions to the economic problems: * education is used to reduce youth unemployment by setting up training programmes, * free child care is provided for young parents so they can go back to school, * police units trying to reduce drug issues, * police have taken back control of the worst crime-ridden areas, especially the favelas near the Olympic stadium.

Environmental challenges and solutions: Urbanisation creates a large number of environmental challenges and problems: * pollution due to industrialisation, * dereliction due to deindustrialisation of the steel industry, * squatter settlements (favelas) built on the hillsides, * urban sprawl, * smog due to pollution.


Urban sprawl in Rio

Air pollution and traffic congestion: Rio is the most congested city in South America. Smog due to exhaust fumes from heavy traffic and congestion mixes with mist from the Atlantic Ocean. Air pollution causes thousands of deaths every year. Causes of air pollution – * lack of flat land for building, * improved transport links (more cars etc.), * 40% increase in car ownership. Solutions – * extension of the metro system, buildings of toll roads to ease congestion, * coastal roads made one-way at busy times to ease traffic flow. Sustainable transport in Rio.

Water pollution: Guanabara Bay is heavily polluted, which is threatening wildlife and causing a decline in fish populations. It could also damage tourism at Copacabana and Ipanema beaches.


Guanabara Bay – pollution

Causes of water pollution – * polluted rivers flowing into the bay, * run-off from open sewers in the favelas, * 200 tonnes of raw sewage pumped into the bay daily, * 50 tonnes of industrial waste pumped into the bay daily, * oil spills, * ships empty fuel tanks into the bay. Solutions – * overseas aid to fund reduction in sewage, * building 12 new sewage works, * ships fined for dumping fuel, * 5km of new sewage pipes installed.

Waste pollution: waste in the favela is dumped as it is too difficult to remove due to narrow lanes and steep hills. The dumped waste gets into the water supply. Encourages rats and diseases like cholera. Solutions – power plant that runs on biogas produced from rotting rubbish has been built.



Informal settlements (Favelas)

In Rio the favelas have grown up all over the place. Favelas are illegal settlements – people have built homes on the land that they do not own. They are areas of social deprivation.


Rocinha is the largest favela in Brazil. It is located in the southern zone of the city. It is built on a steep hillside overlooking the city, just one kilometre from the beach. It is home to between 60,000 to 150,000 people (though this could be more).

There are many challenges in squatter settlements like in Rio’s favelas, namely:

Construction – * houses are poorly constructed (iron, plastic , corrugated metal etc.), building are built on steep slopes (landslides after heavy rainfall), * building on the slope means no space for roads (no really access).

Services – * many homes don’t have running water, * electricity is often through illegal connections, * sewers are often open drains.

Unemployment – * high unemployment rates, * most people work in the informal sector (poorly paid).

Crime – high rates within the favela, * mistrust of the police.

Health – * high population densities makes disease spread easily, * infant mortality is high, * waste and open sewers causes disease.


Open sewers in the favela

Three ways in which to improve the informal settlements:

Self-help schemes – Rocinha, Bairro Project
The authorities in Rio de Janeiro have taken a number of steps to reduce problems in favelas. They have set up self-help schemes. This is when the local authority provide local residents with the materials needs to construct permanent accommodation. This includes breeze blocks and cement. The local residents provide the labour. The money saved can be spent on providing basic amenities such as electricity and water.


Today, almost all the houses in Rocinha are made from concrete and brick. Some buildings are three and four stories tall and almost all houses have basic sanitation, plumbing, and electricity. Compared to simple shanty towns or slums, Rocinha has a better developed infrastructure and hundreds of businesses such as banks, chemists, bus lines, cable television, including locally based channel TV ROC, and, at one time, even a McDonalds franchise, though it has since closed. These factors help classify Rocinha as a Favela Bairro, or Favela Neighbourhood.

Managing urban growth: the Favela Bairro Project in Rio de Janeiro

The government has started to improve the quality of life in the favelas. What has been done: * new housing people in new housing, * developing new areas within the city for rehousing, * enforced evictions to allow for redevelopment of the city, * introducing self-help schemes to redevelop the existing favelas, * activity programmes for they youth.

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Self help scheme – Rio

Issues and concerns in RIO – BBC video  

Site and service schemes: The local government provides land and builds new roads with electricity and water connections. Local residents are then given or sold plots of land that they can build their houses on. Some site and service schemes will also have the houses built which again given away or sold cheaply to low income families.

Rural investment: invest in the rural areas and this should hopefully slow down the pace of urbanisation into the cities.

Favela improvement – Tourism –  &

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