How were cities distributed globally in the past? How many people lived in these cities? How did cities influence their local and regional environments? In order to understand the current era of urbanization, we must understand long-term historical urbanization trends and patterns. However, to date there is no comprehensive record of spatially explicit, historic, city-level population data at the global scale. Here, we developed the first spatially explicit dataset of urban settlements from 3700 BC to AD 2000, by digitizing, transcribing, and geocoding historical, archaeological, and census-based urban population data previously published in tabular form by Chandler and Modelski. The dataset creation process also required data cleaning and harmonization procedures to make the data internally consistent. Additionally, we created a reliability ranking for each geocoded location to assess the geographic uncertainty of each data point. The dataset provides the first spatially explicit archive of the location and size of urban populations over the last 6,000 years and can contribute to an improved understanding of contemporary and historical urbanization trends.
Rural development initiatives across the developing world are designed to improve community well-being and livelihoods. However they may also have unforeseen consequences, in some cases placing further demands on stretched public services. In this paper we use data from a longitudinal study of five Ethiopian villages to investigate the impact of a recent rural development initiative, installing village-level water taps, on rural to urban migration of young adults. Our previous research has identified that tap stands dramatically reduced child mortality, but were also associated with increased fertility. We demonstrate that the installation of taps is associated with increased rural-urban migration of young adults (15-30 years) over a 15 year period (15.5% migrate out, n = 1912 from 1280 rural households). Young adults with access to this rural development intervention had three times the relative risk of migrating to urban centres compared to those without the development. We also identify that family dynamics, specifically sibling competition for limited household resources (e.g. food, heritable land and marriage opportunities), are key to understanding the timing of out-migration. Birth of a younger sibling doubled the odds of out-migration and starting married life reduced it. Rural out-migration appears to be a response to increasing rural resource scarcity, principally competition for agricultural land. Strategies for livelihood diversification include education and off-farm casual wage-labour. However, jobs and services are limited in urban centres, few migrants send large cash remittances back to their families, and most return to their villages within one year without advanced qualifications. One benefit for returning migrants may be through enhanced social prestige and mate-acquisition on return to rural areas. These findings have wide implications for current understanding of the processes which initiate rural-to-urban migration and transitions to low fertility, as well as for the design and implementation of development intervention across the rural and urban developing world.
BACKGROUND: Worldwide urbanization has become a crucial issue in recent years. Bangladesh, one of the poorest and most densely-populated countries in the world, has been facing rapid urbanization. In urban areas, maternal indicators are generally worse in the slums than in the urban non-slum areas. The Manoshi program at BRAC, a non governmental organization, works to improve maternal, newborn, and child health in the urban slums of Bangladesh. This paper describes maternal related beliefs and practices in the urban slums of Dhaka and provides baseline information for the Manoshi program. METHODS: This is a descriptive study where data were collected using both quantitative and qualitative methods. The respondents for the quantitative methods, through a baseline survey using a probability sample, were mothers with infants (n = 672) living in the Manoshi program areas. Apart from this, as part of a formative research, thirty six in-depth semi-structured interviews were conducted during the same period from two of the above Manoshi program areas among currently pregnant women who had also previously given births (n = 18); and recently delivered women (n = 18). RESULTS: The baseline survey revealed that one quarter of the recently delivered women received at least four antenatal care visits and 24 percent women received at least one postnatal care visit. Eighty-five percent of deliveries took place at home and 58 percent of the deliveries were assisted by untrained traditional birth attendants. The women mostly relied on their landladies for information and support. Members of the slum community mainly used cheap, easily accessible and available informal sectors for seeking care. Cultural beliefs and practices also reinforced this behavior, including home delivery without skilled assistance. CONCLUSIONS: Behavioral change messages are needed to increase the numbers of antenatal and postnatal care visits, improve birth preparedness, and encourage skilled attendance at delivery. Programs in the urban slum areas should also consider interventions to improve social support for key influential persons in the community, particularly landladies who serve as advisors and decision-makers.
At a time of unprecedented biodiversity loss, researchers are increasingly recognizing the broad range of benefits provided to humankind by nature. However, as people live more urbanized lifestyles there is a progressive disengagement with the natural world that diminishes these benefits and discourages positive environmental behaviour. The provision of food for garden birds is an increasing global phenomenon, and provides a readily accessible way for people to counter this trend. Yet despite its popularity, quite why people feed birds remains poorly understood. We explore three loosely defined motivations behind bird feeding: that it provides psychological benefits, is due to a concern about bird welfare, and/or is due to a more general orientation towards nature. We quantitatively surveyed households from urban towns in southern England to explore attitudes and actions towards garden bird feeding. Each household scored three Likert statements relating to each of the three motivations. We found that people who fed birds regularly felt more relaxed and connected to nature when they watched garden birds, and perceived that bird feeding is beneficial for bird welfare while investing time in minimising associated risks. Finally, feeding birds may be an expression of a wider orientation towards nature. Overall, we found that the feelings of being relaxed and connected to nature were the strongest drivers. As urban expansion continues both to threaten species conservation and to change peoples' relationship with the natural world, feeding birds may provide an important tool for engaging people with nature to the benefit of both people and conservation.
Rapid urbanization and increasing demand for transportation burdens urban road infrastructures. The interplay of number of vehicles and available road capacity on their routes determines the level of congestion. Although approaches to modify demand and capacity exist, the possible limits of congestion alleviation by only modifying route choices have not been systematically studied. Here we couple the road networks of five diverse cities with the travel demand profiles in the morning peak hour obtained from billions of mobile phone traces to comprehensively analyse urban traffic. We present that a dimensionless ratio of the road supply to the travel demand explains the percentage of time lost in congestion. Finally, we examine congestion relief under a centralized routing scheme with varying levels of awareness of social good and quantify the benefits to show that moderate levels are enough to achieve significant collective travel time savings.
Although humans have cospeciated with their gut-resident microbes, it is difficult to infer features of our ancestral microbiome. Here, we examine the microbiome profile of 350 stool samples collected longitudinally for more than a year from the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania. The data reveal annual cyclic reconfiguration of the microbiome, in which some taxa become undetectable only to reappear in a subsequent season. Comparison of the Hadza data set with data collected from 18 populations in 16 countries with varying lifestyles reveals that gut community membership corresponds to modernization: Notably, the taxa within the Hadza that are the most seasonally volatile similarly differentiate industrialized and traditional populations. These data indicate that some dynamic lineages of microbes have decreased in prevalence and abundance in modernized populations.
Physiological and chemical response of the lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata (L.) Hale, to the urban environment of Kolkata, India
- Environmental science and pollution research international
- Published almost 8 years ago
The present study was focused on the effect of increasing urbanization including industrial and traffic activity on the accumulation of heavy metals and possible damage of selected physiological parameters (composition of assimilation pigments, membrane lipid peroxidation, and membrane integrity) of an epiphytic foliose lichen, Flavoparmelia caperata (L.) Hale. The lichen samples were collected from three different localities in and around Kolkata, India, two sites being from the urban area and one from the relatively non-polluted sub-urban area. The results showed that thalli from the urban sites have significantly higher concentrations of Fe, Cr, Cu, Zn, and Pb compared to those collected from the sub-urban site. Physiological parameters of damage also exhibited stress symptoms in thalli from the urban sites-decreased chlorophyll a indicating less photosynthetic efficiency, and increase in lipid peroxidation and electrolyte conductivity indicating cell membrane injuries. Correlation studies among metals pinpointed vehicular traffic as the main source of pollution in this area.
- Journal of experimental psychology. Human perception and performance
- Published over 7 years ago
Exposure to the urban environment has been shown dramatically to increase the tendency to process contextual information. To further our understanding of this effect of urbanization, we compared performance on a local-selection task of a remote people, the Himba, living traditionally or relocated to town. We showed that (a) spatial attention was defocused in urbanized Himba but focused in traditional Himba (Experiment 1), despite urbanized Himba performing better on a working memory task (Experiment 3); (b) imposing a cognitive load made attention as defocused in traditional as in urbanized Himba (Experiment 2); and © using engaging stimuli/tasks made attention as focused in urbanized Himba, and British, as in traditional Himba (Experiments 4 and 5). We propose that urban environments prioritize exploration at the expense of attentional engagement and cognitive control of attentional selection. (PsycINFO Database Record © 2013 APA, all rights reserved).
The well-established negative health outcomes of sleep deprivation, and the suggestion that availability of electricity may enable later bed times without compensating sleep extension in the morning, have stimulated interest in studying communities whose sleep pattern may resemble a pre-industrial state. Here, we describe sleep and activity in two neighbouring communities, one urban (Milange) and one rural (Tengua), in a region of Mozambique where urbanisation is an ongoing process. The two communities differ in the amount and timing of daily activity and of light exposure, with later bedtimes (≈1 h) associated with more evening and less daytime light exposure seen in the town of Milange. In contrast to previous reports comparing communities with and without electricity, sleep duration did not differ between Milange (7.28 h) and Tengua (7.23 h). Notably, calculated sleep quality was significantly poorer in rural Tengua than in Milange, and poor sleep quality was associated with a number of attributes more characteristic of rural areas, including more intense physical labour and less comfortable sleeping arrangements. Thus, whilst our data support the hypothesis that access to electricity delays sleep timing, the higher sleep quality in the urban population also suggests that some aspects of industrialisation are beneficial to sleep.
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a vector-borne disease whose factors involved in transmission are poorly understood, especially in more urban and densely populated counties. In Brazil, the VL urbanization is a challenge for the control program. The goals were to identify the greater risk areas for human VL and the risk factors involved in transmission.