AQA Geography Paper Two: Section A – Urban Issues and Challenges:

This page includes units 13-15:

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13.1: An Increasingly Urban World:

Urbanisation the proportion of the world’s population who live in cities. This is growing in the modern world because of natural increase, where the birth rate is greater than the death rate, and migration.

Urban Growth is the increase in the area covered by cites.

High-income countries (HICs):

These are countries that are more economically developed.

80% of the population in these countries live in urban areas

Low Income countries (LICs):

These are countries that less economically developed.

20% of the population live in urban areas. However, the highest rate of urbanisation is found in these countries.

Newly Emerging Economies (NEEs):

These are countries in which economic development is rapidly increasing.

Some NEEs are currently experiencing rapid urbanisation.

13.2 The Emergence of Megacities:

Factors causing Urbanisation:

Rural-urban migration – Push Factors:

-People can’t afford to repair damage caused by natural disasters

-Mechanisation of farming equipment means fewer jobs are available

-Farming is hard and poorly paid.

-Desertification can make it hard for people to support themselves as the land becomes less productive

-Rural areas are isolated, often with few services.

-People might be forced to flee their homes because of conflict.

Rural-urban migration – Pull Factors:

-Urban areas provide more jobs. Jobs with better pay.

-Health care and education are more easily accessible in urban areas.

-Family may live in urban areas.

-Urban areas may provide a better quality of life.

Megacities: are cities with a population of over ten million people

Type of Megacity: Features: Examples:
Slow-growing: No squatter settlements High-income countries
Growing: Under 20% in squatter settlements Newly Emerging Economies
Rapid-Growing: Over 20% in squatter settlements Newly Emerging Economies and Low-Income Countries


13.3 Case-study: Rio de Janeiro:

Rio de Janeiro is a major city in a NEE:

It is a major regional, national and international city.

It has grown mainly because of migration, along with people attracted to Rio’s employment

13.4 Social Challenges in Rio:

Access to services:

Water Supply – 12% of Rio’s population has no running water. 37% of water is lost through leaks and illegal access. Droughts make water expensive.

Education – Only half of all children continue their education beyond the age of 14. This is because there is a shortage of schools and teachers, along with a lack of money and a need for teenagers to work to support their families.

Energy – Frequent power cuts and blackouts. Many poorer people tap into the main electricity supply to get their electricity.

Health care – There are a shortage of hospitals and clinics in the favelas which mean there is a high level of illness. This means that disease is common.


Water Supply: 300km of new pipes and seven treatment plants were built. By 2014, 95% of the population had access to the mains water supply.

Education: The authorities have given school grants to poor families and opened a private university in the favela called Rocinha.

Energy – 60km of new power lines installed and a new nuclear generator was built.

Health care – Medical staff detect and treat 20 different diseases in people’s homes which reduced infant mortality and increases life expectancy.

13.5 Economic opportunities and challenges:


-Rio provides more than 6% of Brazils employment.

-Economic development has improved Rio’s transport and environment

-Large companies are now attracted to Rio

-Economic opportunities have developed in the formal economy.

Types of employment:





-Oil Refining

-Port Industries

-Service Industries


Unemployment: There had been an increase in unemployment in 2015 and there is a wider contrast in wealth. The unemployment rates in favelas are over 20%.

Crime – Murder, Kidnapping and armed assault occur regularly. Powerful gangs control drug trafficking in many of the favelas.


Unemployment: The Schools of Tomorrow aims to improve education in the poor and violent areas. Free child care is now provided to enable teenage parents to return to education

Crime: In 2013 Pacifying Police Units was established to reclaim favelas from drug dealers. Police have now taken control come crime-controller favelas.

13.6 Improving Rio’s Environment:

Challenges: The Impact: Solutions:
Air pollution & Traffic Congestion Air pollution causes 5000 deaths per year in Rio. Smog occurs in still conditions. This is when natural mist or fog mixes with vehicle exhaust fumes and pollutants from factories.

Traffic congestion increases stress and pollution:

Steep mountains limit where roads can go

The number of cars has grown

High crime levels mean people prefer to drive

Expansions of the metro system to cut car use.

New toll roads, so people think about the cost of travel.

Making coast roads one-way during rush hours

Water Pollution: Rivers are polluted by open sewers in the favelas because the government has not paid for sewage pipes.

There have been oil spills from oil refineries.

Ships empty their fuel tanks in the bay.

12 new sewage works have been built since 2004.

Ships are fined for discharging fuel illegally

5km of new sewage pipes have been installed.

Waste Pollution: Many favelas are on steep slopes with few proper roads so waste collection is difficult. Most waste is dumped and pollutes the water system, causing diseases and encouraging rats A power plant has been set up which consumes 30 tonnes of rubbish a day and produces enough electricity for 1000 homes.

13.7 Managing the growth of squatter settlements:

Urban growth can create squatter settlements, where people face challenges.

Rocinha is the largest favela in RIO. It now has:

90% of houses built with brick and with electricity, running water and sewerage systems, along with bars, travel agents and shops. It also has schools, health facilities and universities.

Challenges in squatter settlements:  
Crime: A high murder rate of 20 per 1000 people in many favelas.

Drug gangs can dominate areas

Health: Infant mortality rates as high as 50 per 100

Waste cannot be disposed of and builds up in the street which increases the danger of disease

Services: In the non-improved favelas:

12% of homes have no running water

30% have no electricity

50% have no sewerage connections

Construction: Houses are built with basic materials on steep slopes.

Heavy rain can cause landslides

Unemployment: Unemployment rates are as high as 2-%

Average incomes may be less than £75 a month


13.8 Planning for Rio’s Urban Poor:

The Favela Barrio Project: This is a site and service scheme. The local authority provides land and services for residents to build homes.

Complexo de Alemao is group of favelas in Rio’s north zone. The local authorities have made many improvements:

-Paved Roads

-Access to water supply

-Improved sanitation

-A cable car system – inhabitants are given on free return ticket a day

-A pacifying police unit with police patrolling the community

Some favelas were demolished to make way for the developments for the 2016 Olympic games. The small town of Campo Grande saw 800 new homes being built.

Good: For some residents, the houses are better than the favelas.

Bad: Lacks a community, has no shops and is a 90-minute drive to the city centre.

Has the Favela Barrio Project been a success or a failure?

The quality of life, mobility and employment prospects of the inhabitants have improved.

But there are still problems:

-The newly built infrastructure is not being maintained

-Residents lack the skills and resources to make repairs

-More training is needed to improve literacy and employment

14.1 Where do people live in the UK?

-The UK’s population is unevenly distributed.

-82% live in urban areas.

-A quarter of the people who live in Urban areas live in London and south-east of England

-Many highland regions are very sparsely populated. Upland areas are remote and experience harsh weather conditions.

The main factor affecting where people live is the relief of the land. Most cities have become conurbations, which are continuous urban areas formed by the merging of towns.

14.2 Introducing Birmingham

-Birmingham is at the center of the country. There is more focus on motorways than any other place in England.

-Known for its manufacturing which is a pull for migrants.

-It is the Top 15 ‘Best cities in Europe to do business’ with 31,000 businesses in Birmingham. There is a £13 billion investment in infrastructure development.

-Transport – Fast rail to London from New Street Station, the International airport hub and motorways.

-Migrants, International and national, move to Birmingham usually search of work and live in the inner city where housing is cheaper. This provides Birmingham with a young working population. A there is a rise of population, this increase a demand on services.

Advantages of migration to Birmingham disadvantages of migration to Birmingham
Younger working population More demand on schools and other services
Very ethnically diverse More houses are needed
International cultures bring businesses to these areas Overcrowding, especially in the inner city
  Migrants usually live in the most deprived areas of the city


14.3 Urban Change and its opportunities and challenges in Birmingham:

Social Opportunities:

The ethnic and cultural diversity allows people to experience different religions and foods. For example, Balti Triangle, St Paul’s Square, Birmingham Royal Ballet. This gives Birmingham a culturally rich social life.

Birmingham has five universities with over 65,000 students.

Economic Opportunities:

The Bullring shopping centre includes 140 shops which generates employment and income for the local economy. Brindley Place is a city center development which includes bars, retail, office and entertainment facilities which generate a large income. This can allow the multiplier effect to take place.

Environmental Opportunities:

Canals in Birmingham have been cleaned up. Towpaths have been upgraded to encourage people to walk and cycle along the canals in the city.

The Eastside City Park is a new park developed to increase the amount of green space. In order to reduce pollution, traffic has been managed by creating a park and ride scheme. This encourages the use of buses and the Birmingham Metro.

Social and Economic Challenges:

Urban decline – Birmingham used to have a large manufacturing industry. Due to competition from aboard, most of Birmingham’s manufacturing industry has now gone. This has led to urban decline as manufacturing buildings were left empty and became derelict, which means poor condition as a result of disuse and neglect.

Deprivation – Due to the closing of manufacturing industry which has led to high employment. Parts of Birmingham experienced a spiral of social and economic decline which has led to deprivation.

Inequalities in housing – Birmingham’s high population has resulting in pressure on housing. There is not enough good quality and affordable housing for people in the city.

Education – The quality of education was particularly poor in the inner city. For example, areas such as Aston is an area of deprivation with an ethnically diverse community where many children struggled to gain access and succeed in education.

Unemployment – The closure of factories in the manufacturing industry led to high unemployment.

Environmental Challenges:

Dereliction – derelict buildings from the manufacturing industry are common in inner-city areas.

Building on greenfield sites – this results in the loss of more green space and may make urban sprawl worse. However, building on brownfield sites will improve a derelict site as the space is reused for a new development.

Waste disposal – a large urban population produces a lot of household and commercial waste which creates challenges for how to manage and dispose of this waste.

Atmospheric pollution – As there are more people in the city. There are more vehicles on the road leading to atmospheric pollution.

15.1 Planning for urban sustainability:

Environmental planning in Freiburg:

Waste recycling – This is a key feature of sustainable urban living.

Freiburg has reduced landfill by:

-Reducing annual waste disposal from 140,000 to 50,000 tonnes in 12 years

-Recycling more than 88% of packing waste

-Provided energy for 28,000 homes from burning non-recyclable waste

-Building biogas digester for organic food.

Social Planning in Freiburg:

Local people are involved in urban planning at both local and city level:

-Local people can invest in renewable energy resources

-Financial rewards are given to people who compost their green waste and use textile nappies.

Economic planning in Freiburg:

-Freiburg is a city where people come to attend conferences on sustainability and this provides jobs for local people.

-More than 10,000 people are employed in 1500 environmental businesses in the city.

15.2 Sustainable living in Freiburg:

Water Conservation: Freiburg’s waste water system allows rainwater to be retained, reused or to seep back into the ground. Water conservation involves: Collecting rainwater for use indoors, green roofs, unpaved tramways, pervious pavements that allow rainwater to soak through.

Energy Conservation: Freiburg has a strict energy based on: energy saving, use of renewable energy services and efficient technology. Freiburg is one of the sunniest cities in Germany so solar power is an important form of renewable energy. There are about 400 solar panel installations in the city.

The largest proportion of Freiburg’s renewable electricity comes from biomass using waste wood and rapeseed oil. Biogas is produced from organic waste.

Creating Green Space: Green spaces: Help to keep the air clean, provide a natural look, provides a habitat for wildlife.

-40% of the city is forested.

-44,000 trees have been planted in parks and streets

-Only native trees and shrubs are planted.

Reducing Traffic Congestion: The tram network provides efficient, cheap and accessible public transport. There are also, 400km of cycle paths, restrictions on car parking spaces.

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