City Challenges

Worldwide, cities gain a million people a week. This kind of growth brings problems, and today many of the world’s largest cities face similar challenges: high housing costs, pollution, and crime (to name a few). What are some urban planners doing to fix these problems and improve people’s lives?


Hyderabad, India (population: more than five million)

To improve residents’ lives, Hyderabad is planting trees and parks. The city is even creating “greener” buildings that use less water and less electricity for power. Adding green to a city has a number of advantages. For example, trees remove pollution from the air and make it cleaner. In Hyderabad, streets were gray and ugly a few years ago. Today, they are filled with trees and flowers making the city cleaner and more colorful. Green areas also give people places to relax or exercise and walk. A study in the U.S. showed something else interesting: the greener a neighborhood¹ is, the less crime there is against people and property—especially buildings and cars.


São Paulo, Brazil (population: more than eighteen million)

Many people work in the center of São Paulo, but they don’t live there. They’ve spread out to neighborhoods outside the city, where housing is cheaper. Every day, these people travel into the city and traffic is very heavy. Urban planners are using different strategies to address this issue. First, they are building better subways². Another goal is to make it cheaper for people to live in the downtown area. Doing this will shorten the distance people travel for work and reduce traffic and pollution in the city.

¹ A neighborhood is one of the parts of a city where people live.
² A subway is an underground railroad. It is a type of public transportation in a city.

© 2017 National Geographic



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