For the first time in human history, more of the world's people live in cities than in rural areas. This trend has led to the growth of "megacities" - urban areas with populations of 15 million or more. As the fastest growing city in the world, Dhaka, the capital of the Southeast Asian nation of Bangladesh, is an example of what the megacities of the future might look like.
Bangladeshis who once lived and farmed in rural areas are finding themselves without a way of making a living, since floods and other natural disasters have made their land unfit for farming. For many, the only hope is to move their families into the city to find work and live in sprawling slums with others in similar positions.
Even though conditions in the slums are unsanitary and crowded, many slum-dwellers see life in the city as a stepping stone to a better future. Mahmuda Akhter, who moved from Bangladesh's countryside to the Dhaka slums and found work in a garment factory, says she can now afford to buy more of what she needs, such as clothing and food.
Experts say Dhaka could serve as an example for other megacities. Whether that example will be good or bad is yet to be determined and sits largely in the hands of the Bangladeshi government.
"My land was over there. Now it's water. It's a river."- Abdur Rahim,
"You are seeing the early future of the world, which is not a very
pleasant thought at this point in time. Half of the population of the
developing world will be in the urban centers within the next decade."
- Atiq Rahman, Bangladesh Centre For Advanced Studies
"Before, I couldn't eat meat once a week, not even once a month. Now I
can afford meat every week. I can buy good fish, big fish. I can
afford all kinds of food. Before, it was difficult to buy a dress even
once a year. Now I can afford a dress every month." - Mahmuda Akhter,
1. What is the difference between an "urban" area and a "rural" area?
2. Where is Bangladesh?
3. What is a slum?
1. If you were going to try to find a job, would you move to an urban area or a rural area? Why?
2. How could Bangladesh's government turn Dhaka into a positive example of a megacity? What would need to be done?
3. According to the video, what happened to force so many of Bangladesh's people into the city?