Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Push-and-pull factor of development

Have you ever wondered why so many people are attracted to the cities? Not strange at all. It could be that some of them just wanted to feel how it's like to be in the cities, with all those amenities and conveniences all around. Unlike in the rural areas, life is drab and laid back. But why trade simple living or fresh foods to eat and air to breath for chaotic and polluted atmosphere in most cities?

As people are pulled to the cities, space gets constricted thus leaving the cities more densely populated. With the cities already bursting at the seams, more people are added thereby straining the delivery of quality basic services intended for those who need them most. As the city population grows, accommodation for housing facilities become problematic. Without a place to stay, rural migrants are forced to squat in slum areas, particularly along the creek or river banks that are not fit for humans.

And what do you expect when squatter colonies take shape in these areas? With no amenities of their own, squatter families discard their wastes into the water tributaries thus polluting the environment. Then health problems occur because of the unsanitary conditions that are spawned by pollution. With most of them jobless, children become hungry and sick. While others could not go to school and so some of them end up along the busy streets, selling flower leis and some food stuffs to passing motorists. Others simply come out to beg as parents look on to monitor the whereabouts of their untidy children.

When night falls, try to pass beneath the concrete flyovers and bridges and you'll find them curled up, sleeping to pass the cold night away, peppered by mosquitoes. Some take the courage to sleep in wooden carts, with corrugated boxes to serve as their covers.

This is the situation that needs the attention of government. But there seems to be no concrete programs to stem the movement of people from the rural areas to the cities. The hands of government are tied due to lack of funds to sustain anti-poverty alleviation projects. This is due to lack of revenue collections, whereby a portion is being pocketed by corrupt revenue officials who enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers' money. This sickness is contagious so that even revenue officials are allegedly conniving with corporate accountants to cheat the government.

Anti-poverty programs were put in place, but their implementation have been stalled for a while due to politics. It is not clear at this point in time, if the people are expecting something positive from concerned governments. For enterprising people, it takes guts to survive in a dog-eat-dog competition.

In some Asian countries, for example, there's a wide array of amenities that are readily open for the public. But with not enough money to spend, owing to the small salaries and wages that most people get, it is just impossible for most people to satisfy their wants. Knowing that almost all the goods and services are expensive, how can an ordinary or medium-earner squander what he earned for the month and end up with nothing to eat the next day.

In Asia, if you're just relying on a meager salary, better stay in the province and live on a shoe-string budget to make both ends meet. Otherwise, savings would be far-fetched from reality. At least, in the province, you can go fishing using simple fishing gears and methods as long as they are not destructive to the environment. Or you can plant some vegetables and raise livestock in the backyards for personal consumption. Excess stuffs can be sold for cash. Isn't it practical that way to live and survive on this earth?

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