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people in Mozambique were displaced to urban areas in the 1980s (Chenje
2000 ) and the world's third largest refugee camp exists in urban Sierra Leone
(UNCHS 2001 ).
About 85% of African urban population has access to water sources and sanitations
(WHO and UNICEF 2000 ). In large cities, the air pollution is a growing concern,
particularly in Cairo, Egypt, where pollutants create a permanent haze over the city,
in addition of a range of high risk of respiratory disorders to its 12+ million inhabit-
ants (UNCHS 1996 ).
Urban Areas in West Asia
The majority of Western Asian population lives in urban
areas with the notable exception of Yemen. The past 30
years brought about significant economic, political and
technological changes, which have influenced the struc-
ture and the functions of urban areas. Three main factors
have shaped the urban landscapes of west Asia (UNESCWA
1999 ): the 1970 oil boom, the large-scale movement
resulted from the Gulf Wars, and globalization.
Rapid economic growth, which occurred in most countries in the West Asia
region over the past 3 decades, was accompanied by population growth and
increased urbanization. There has been a massive migration of the population from
rural to urban areas, as well as migration of foreign labor into urban areas, espe-
cially in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. Urbanization has contin-
ued to increase at a faster rate than the total population (UNPD 2001). All the
countries of the Arabian Peninsula currently have an 84% average level of urban-
ization. With the exception Yemen which is only 25% urbanized, almost the entire
population of Bahrain (92.2%), Kuwait (97.6%) and Qatar (92.5%) are living in
urban areas (UNDP 2001). The number of large cities with more than one million
residents is estimated at 12 cities in this part of the world.
Economic development has brought dramatic improve-
ment in the well-being of the western Asian population
(UNDP 2001). Despite these positive impacts, several
cities are negatively influenced by many problems such
as lacking adequate services for the urban poor, placing
human health and well-being at risk (UNDP, UNEP, WB,
WRI 1998 ). Most of the large cities in the West Asia
have higher levels of air pollution. As urban areas
expand, prime agricultural land, coastal habitats and forests
are transformed into land for housing, roads and industry.
Land conversion activities range from draining and fill-
ing of marshes and wetlands to large-scale reclamation
oil boom, wars and
globalization are
the main factors
fueling urban
growth of cities in
West Asia
urbanization forms
in West Asia cities
transformation of
prime agricultural
land, coastal
habitats and
forests into land
for housing, roads,
and industry
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