Sunday, March 27, 2011


Earthrise by Bill Anders

Through the blog of Dutch journalist Femke van Zeijl I found last year's article "How Slums Can Save the Planet" by the controversial American environmentalist Stewart Brand.

He interestingly states that city-life (and then in particular the slums that are found around megalopolisses like Mumbai and Rio) can in fact be a much more eco-friendly sollution than living in the countryside.

Some quotes that caught my eye:
To a planner’s eye, these cities look chaotic. I trained as a biologist and to my eye, they look organic. Squatter cities are also unexpectedly green. They have maximum density—1m people per square mile in some areas of Mumbai—and have minimum energy and material use.

Every city in Asia and Latin America has an industry based on gathering up old cardboard boxes.” There’s even a book on the subject: The World’s Scavengers (2007) by Martin Medina

“The concentration of population and enterprises in urban areas greatly reduces the unit cost of piped water, sewers, drains, roads, electricity, garbage collection, transport, health care, and schools.” In the developed world, cities are green because they cut energy use; in the developing world, their greenness lies in how they take the pressure off rural waste.

Here in Tamale, most people are surprised about the large quantities of plastic that are being used (and wasted). I am talking about rubber bags, the small sachets that are used to transport drinking water, ... At the other hand, plastic bottles and drums are always being re-used. Just as I saw in Mumbai, plastic bottles can even be used as currency. But all these black rubber bags and used sachets for drinking water are a real pest.

Many people have already been breaking their head whether there isn't a way of reusing these wasted sachets. I will elaborate on that in a future post.


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