Half of the global population now lives in cities. Urban growth is occurring most rapidly in the developing world, where cities gain an average of 5 million residents every month (UN-HABITAT, 2008). Urbanisation processes have been prevalent in Asia and while they have raised living standards in many countries, they have also produced other economic, social and environmental costs. This helpdesk research report aims to outline some of these costs, focusing primarily on South Asia – and in particular, Bangladesh. This is of a descriptive nature as there is a dearth of quantitative estimates. The literature and expert comments stress the difficulty in determining clear estimates of costs. The main issues highlighted in the literature include:
- poor productivity and market inefficiencies
- environmental and health issues and poor living conditions
- economic and social costs of crime and insecurity.