Dirty skies, dirty streets, dirty surroundings; some of us may think appearance alone makes a city bad to live in. Are there other traits that make a city unhealthy?
International development bodies base a city’s unhealthiness on factors such as pollution, congestion, the availability of green spaces, the availability of educational and health facilities and even policies enforced by the government.
These are the countries that scored lowest in the livability index.
10 Tehran, Iran
The to-do list in Teheran is more of a not-to-do list, with so many restrictions imposed on social norms and behavior, even what to wear, most of them targeted toward women. To keep order the government is allowed to tap phone conversations of private individuals legally. The city also ranks low in culture and stimulation. There is not much to do there either as people are not allowed to listen to western music or drink alcohol, or even log on to social media sites. Residents cannot keep pets which are known to be great stress relievers. There are some things to enjoy in Teheran though, there are the parks and open spaces. The city area is so huge there is almost no issue with crowded communities.
9 Nairobi, Kenya
It cannot be denied Nairobi is surrounded by many tourist attractions like game reserves and Lake Nakuru, but the city itself is sorely lacking in infrastructure, especially its Kibera District which is kind of a city within the city and where 60 percent of Nairobi residents live. The Kibera is known for its crowded housing. While technically it is government-owned land, the government has done nothing to regulate squatters who have come to take the property for their own, resulting in a haphazard maze of houses and makeshift dwellings, many overlapping each other and many without bathrooms. However, all is not lost for Kenya’s capital. It can still boast of good educational facilities and it also ranks sufficiently when it comes to culture and entertainment.
8 Lusaka, Zambia
The Zambian capital has good infrastructure. Aside from sufficient and accessible shopping areas they have a wide selection of museums, galleries and cultural centers. It is also one of the fastest growing countries in Southern Africa. So why is it in this list? The answer? Pollution. All the fast development has come unchecked and unregulated, resulting in high levels of pollution. This is not helped by the lack of greenery within the city that would have helped in the air quality. Their health facilities are also lacking, further exacerbating health problems from pollution. The city’s transport system is also wanting, especially its airport.
7 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
The city has gone a long way since the days of the Khmer Rouge, yet some things have not changed, like their antiquated drainage system. Little has been done to improve how rainwater and waste water is channeled out of the city, and the problem is worsening with the increasing population which has been on a steep rise since 1998. Traffic is also becoming a problem with most Cambodians owning a car or a motorcycle. Overcrowding in the streets is not contributing to the well-being of the residents and heightens stress levels, noise pollution and air pollution. They also rank low when it comes to health facilities.
6 Karachi, Pakistan
This city is reportedly the place to go to for the best nightlife in Pakistan. It’s the place to visit if you don’t mind the frequent power outages, bad roads and lack of a proper garbage disposal systems and an unreliable police force. The government is reportedly quick to promise improvements to the lives of Karachiites but has not taken any concrete action for the past five years. At 6,000 people for every square kilometer, this city is also one of the most densely populated in the world. For tourists and locals seeking respite there are some seaside locations to visit, but otherwise locations for socialization and appreciation of the culture and arts are lacking.
5 Dakar, Senegal
The political and economic center of Senegal ranks high in infrastructure, but the city has let the informal settler population soar, leading to illegal settlements that are hard to police and provide with necessities such as water, power, transportation and garbage disposal. The city is now facing problems caused by close living quarters including malaria, gastrointestinal diseases and upper respiratory tract infections. The presence of a lot of unregulated wells only adds to the risk of waterborne diseases. The city’s most important aquifer is also located close to the surface and flooding in the city is frequent. The estimated 40 percent of the population who have jobs face a lot of workplace risk due to poorly regulated industry standards. Those aside, there are a lot of things to see and do in Dakar and its natives are said to be among the most hospitable people in Africa.
4 Abidjan, Ivory Coast
This city was the country’s capital from 1903 until 1983 following the unrest after the death of president-for-life Felix Houphouët Boigny and the various coup d’états that followed. While the city was stable during the Boigny regime and still boasts of resorts, restaurants and nightspots worth visiting, it has all but fallen into chaos and disorder that followed his death. Petty theft and armed gangs are becoming a problem in the city, exacerbated by an inadequate police force. Aside from poor administration, the city also had to deal with its sudden expansion in 2001 when it was merged with three other sub-prefectures beyond the city, giving it more area to manage and police. The city is also constantly dealing with refugees from Liberia, each one a likely candidate for membership in any of the armed gangs.
3 Lagos, Nigeria
This city in Nigeria is not built on solid land, rather it was built on and around several inland islands connected by bridges. When traffic moves about, it bottlenecks around the bridges causing what has been labeled by many as the worst traffic jams in the world, with vehicles taking two to three hours just to be able to make 10 to 20 kilometers. The crush of vehicles on the highways does little for the air quality in the city and the lack of green spaces and health facilities means people are highly susceptible to respiratory diseases. The region is rich in freshwater but it seems very little is getting to the city and clean water is always in short supply. Raw sewage is often dumped with rainwater into the tidal flats. Lately efforts are being made to upgrade slums into decent dwellings and provide them with clean water. A high-speed railway is also being planned, but for some reason this project never seems to leave the planning stage.
2 Mumbai, India
Mumbai has the infamous claim of being the dirtiest city in the world. Trash is often left uncollected in streets for days. It gets worse in the rainy season when effluents mixes with floodwaters. Sometime trash piles get so big and high they block passages in slum areas and the smell of rotting refuse can be detected for miles. The closeness of the city is also wreaking havoc on some of the Mumbai residents who regularly have to compete with each other for almost everything from a seat on the train to openings in the local university. There are little places for rest and recreation in the city and many students and workers take the stress of the school and workplace home with them. An estimated 40 percent of suicides in Mumbai are blamed on family issues. Traffic is also a big stress and pollution factor. People, vehicles and even animals crowd the streets. There are often no enforcers manning crucial intersections and the accidents that happen are won by intimidation rather than mediation.
1 Dhaka, Bangladesh
Below the skyline of Dhaka lies the slums the residents live in. There is little room to maneuver and everything is so close. Residents crowd the buildings, buildings crowd the sidewalks, the sidewalks are close to the streets where the flow of people, motor vehicles and rickshaws never stops. Many streets are in bad condition and often wet with busted pipes or raw sewage. Traffic is also a problem with motor vehicles and rickshaws vying for road supremacy. In many areas there are no sidewalks or pedestrian lanes and the never-ending foot traffic regularly spills out into major thoroughfares. Enforcers are reportedly unable to cope with the numerous accidents and violations that occur each day. Working conditions are also among the poorest in the world. Most of the city’s residents are migrant workers laboring in textile factories, many of these paying less than minimum wage. Workers who fall sick have very little to expect in the way of healthcare. All those aside, the city is home to many breathtaking buildings, many of these relics from its colonial past. There are also a few parks but many of them are far from the slum areas.
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