Most of the residents of the world’s urban centres are happy with their cities, a new survey by UN-HABITAT shows. However, the residents also expressed misgivings about some aspects of urban governance and put forward proposals on how these could be addressed.
|An ariel view of Nairobi City, Kenya, 2007 © Julius Mwelu/UN-HABITAT
The survey that ran during the month of World Habitat Day asked respondents to state what they loved or hated in their cities. A huge majority said they were happy with their cities and stated the reasons why.
Reasons given for loving the cities ranged from having good planning to well managed environment and strict administration of city by-laws, among others. Also cited are good geographical locations, good favourable weather and architecture.
A respondent from Karachi, Pakistan says of her city: It’s very lively, you can find food and fun 24 hours.” Yet another respondent from Kano in Nigeria says “My city is a place where developments are guided organically, ensuring harmonious coexistence between different uses and activities, as much as nature can allow.”
And from UN-HABITAT home town of Nairobi a respondent says “I like the weather - never too hot or too cold, fact that there is a lot of green in the city - trees, flowers etc. Sometimes even kiosk owners will have a small flower bed in front of their kiosk. I like the fact that many different people live in Nairobi - all ethnic groups of Kenya and non Kenyans and you can see their colours, dress, food etc. I love the diversity. I also like the creativity of young people in Nairobi.”
From Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, a respondent enthuses: It’s a city that is a mix of activity. The capital of our country is known for inexpensive street vending, mall shopping as well as easy business activity.”
But pollution, crime, inadequate housing and water supply were some of the issues that needed urgent attention from city authorities, the survey found out.
A resident of Tehran says the city suffers from ‘pollution and ugly buildings that have no identity and traffic.’
From San Salvador a respondent says the authorities need to ‘punish criminals, apply the laws and avoid corruption. Protect honest and good people and put in jail the bad ones.’ On what residents can do to improve the situation in their cities, the same San Salvador resident cites reporting crimes, being careful and avoiding the most dangerous places of the city as some o the things that can be done
In the landmark survey, children were also asked their views on their cities and top on their priority was the availability of playgrounds and parks. A respondent from North Haledon in the United States said this of her city: It is quiet and we have parks and fields, we have a lot of sports clinics, we have a great ice cream place, we have a safe school and area.”
On what she doesn’t like about her city she says; No ice cream truck, no skateboard park, no toy store, not enough money for people to pay for their homes, people are losing their jobs, the police cars race down the street (its dangerous), not enough police officers.”
On their contributions to making their cities better, the children listed helping their neighbours when they have a problem as well as sharing what you have with your friends as some of the actions needed.
The survey was conducted globally with Asia Pacific drawing 34.5 percent of the respondents; Africa was second with 32.7 percent followed by Europe at 18.2 per cent, Latin America at 10.9 percent and North America at 3.2 percent.
Respondents were almost evenly balanced in terms of gender with 50.9 males and 49.1 females. Age wise those in the 25-34 age group were the majority at 41.8 percent; the 35-44 age group was next at 21.8 percent; 45-54 age group came in third at 21.8 percent. The 15-24 and 45-444 age groups tied at 14.5 percent while the 55-64 age group brought the rear at 7.3 percent.