Urbanization in Manaus, Brazil

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Manaus is located on the Rio Negro and is a backbone of the Brazil's commercial market of shipping, petroleum, and forest products. Manaus is the home to over half of the residents of the State of Amazonia. High rates of illegal residency have resulted in dense economically disadvantaged communities on creek banks that run throughout the city. Though efforts have been made to develop smart growth strategies, the city must still design land use plans that confront concerns regarding sewer drainage, sanitation, water quality, waste management, recreation space, employment, and social services. Not addressing infrastructure concerns like sewer drainage could lead to contaminated drinking water, waterborne illnesses, and further delays in implementation in land use plans.

Critical Statistics:
  1. Between 1970 and 2003 the population grew by 300,000.According to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). As of 2003 Manaus had a population of slightly over 1.5 million people, (IBGE 2003). The population of Manaus accounts for over half of the State of Amazonia's population and handles almost 98% of the states economy (Magalhaes and Rojas 2005).

  2. As of 2002, Manaus had a gross density of almost 4000 people per sq km. The municipality covers an area of approximately 11,500 sq km, which includes an urban area of over 350 sq km (Magalhaes and Rojas, Forthcoming as of 2007).

  3. Approximately 7,000 families, equating to 56,000 people, reside in conditions deemed "high-risk" due to poor quality homes adjacent to polluted river margins (Magalhaes and Rojas 2005).

  4. The lack of infrastructure maintenance and sanitation appear to have a positive correlation with high rates of landslides and waterborne illnesses (Casey et al. 2006).

  1. Immigrants from Southern and Northeastern Brazil have established dense slum developments (commonly known as favelas) located on creeks adjacent to the Rio Negro. The informal settlers still opt to illegally access electricity and water resources from the adjacent municipal infrastructure (Casey et al. 2006).

  2. The overall population growth combined with influx of disadvantaged settlements have heavily stressed infrastructure, social services, and natural resources historically intended for economically developed middle or upper-class communities (Magalhaes and Rojas 2005).

  3. The city is challenged with management of wastes and odors in the low quality settlements, affecting the natural drainage system, which has the capacity to satisfy only 3% of the homes (Magalhaes and Rojas 2005).

  4. The upsurge in population is partially the result of the Free Trade Zone established in the 1970s.The sharp increase in migration was a direct result of rural farmers from Northeastern and Southern Brazil moving to the State of Amazonia in search of new land ripe for agriculture (Casey et al. 2006). Poor conditions on the land encouraged settlers to seek work in the city.

  5. The widespread development of informal settlements is taking place because of Brazil's formal housing production and financing systems only caters to middle-income households and formal unionized labor.The city lacks sufficient investments in infrastructure to support informal expansion. The outdated city plan of 1975, which was in effect till 2002, is also responsible for unplanned growth of the city (Magalhaes and Rojas, Forthcoming as of 2007).

  1. The city is challenged with population rise, widespread informal development, informal disposal of wastes in the low quality settlements, water quality and pressure on existing infrastructures and services.

  2. The poor infrastructure system combined with unmanaged dumping of garbage and fluctuations in the Rio Negro magnify the impacts of flooding and landslides.

  3. With contaminated drinking water, Manaus must confront potential increases in reported cases of water-borne illnesses like dengue fever, diarrhea, intestinal worms, malaria, and cholera (Casey et al. 369)

What is Next:
  1. The city must upgrade infrastructure (such as potable water, sewerage, roads, and electricity) to match the demand of present and future urban residents.

  2. A cooperative effort between the city and state governments to develop proper land use plan, building codes, and zoning regulations will lead to sustainable growth of the City as well as the State of Amazonia.

  3. Further cooperation between the government, businesses, and community members will result in development of a dynamic comprehensive plan and will prove profitable to residents and businesses of Manaus.63

  1. The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). 2003. Número de habitantes e recursos humanos do esporte em 31.12.2003. http://www.ibge.gov.br/municesportes/dados.php?tab=b5&codmun=0260&uf=13&... (Last accessed 10 November 2009).

  2. Magalhaes, F. and R. Eduardo. 2005. The re-urbanization of the city center of Manaus, Brazil - Facing the challenges of informal settlements. 41st ISoCaRP Congress. www.isocarp.net/Data/case_studies/632.pdf (Last accessed 13 November 2009).

  3. Magalhaes, F. and Rojas, E. Forthcoming as of 2007, Facing the Challenges of Informal Settlements in Urban Centers: The Re-urbanization of Manaus, Brazil. Inter-American Development Bank, Sustainable Development Department, Washington, DC. http://www.iadb.org/sds/doc/UrbanizationDowntownManaus.pdf (Last accessed 13 November 2009).

  4. Nascimento Belo Imbiriba, E. and A. Levino da Silva Neto, W. Vieira de Souza, V. Pedrosa, M. da Graça Cunha, L. Garnelo. 2009. Social inequality, urban growth and leprosy in Manaus: a spatial approach. Rev. Saúde Pública [online] ; 43(4) 656-665. http://www.scielosp.org/pdf/rsp/v43n4/en_842.pdf (Last accessed on 13 November 2009).

  5. Casey, J. and J. Kahn and A. Rivas. 2006. Willingness to pay for improved water service in Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. Ecological Economics 58 365-372. http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=james_... (Last accessed on 10 Nov 2009)