Barcelona Field Studies Centre

Sao Paulo Growth and Management

Reasons for rapid growth

  • Rural-urban migration (push-pull factors)

Push Pull
• Mechanisation of farms and shortage of alternative jobs results in high rural unemployment

• Large landowners take back the land of their tenant farmers to grow cash crops for export (see Latifundia system)

• High infant mortality due to lack of clean water, electricity, sewerage and medical care

• Housing in rural areas is even worse than in the city

• Periodic droughts in NE Brazil

• Lack of schools, shops, etc

• Advertising campaigns were run in rural areas in the 1950s and 1960s to attract workers to the city

• More schools, doctors and other services in the city

• Successful migrants encourage people to join them

  • High birth rate
  • Low death rate leading to longer life expectancy


Results of rapid growth

1. Inadequate housing and services. 40% live in shanty towns or favellas which display most problems typical of developing world cities. The makeshift homes lack sewerage, water and electricity.

2. The shanty town services are non-existent or incapable of maintaining a basic standard of living. The lack of basic services like a clean water supply, rubbish collection and sewerage disposal mean that the risks of disease are very high. In storms sewers block and flood.

3. Shortage of affordable formal housing.

4. The shanty town is likely to be found on inappropriate land. Maybe it is prone to flooding or is very steeply sloping, increasing the chances of a landslip. It could be on a piece of land that has been badly polluted by a neighbouring industry. The shelters made of wood and high population densities increase the risk of fire.

5. Collapsing infrastructure. The government does not have sufficient funds available to maintain the existing facilities, let alone improve them. Particular problems arise because of the inadequacy of the road and sewerage networks – see next point.

6. Increasing levels of pollution. Pollution of air, land and water is a major problem. Air pollution is second only to Los Angeles. The drive to industrialisation brings with it inevitable problems, especially as legislation to protect the environment is often non-existent or rarely enforced. Furthermore, the hidden economy can add to the levels of pollution as small, unlicensed industries are set up in peoples homes or on rooftops. These industries release their pollutants into the air, land and water.

7. Increased volume of traffic on poorly maintained roads.

8. A lack of employment means that people have to look for other ways of earning money in the informal sector. Lack of jobs - many work in informal sector - low paid, menial jobs e.g. porters, shoe shiners. Employs over half the city’s workforce.


Attempts to solve problems:

1. Clearance of the slums: In the past the authorities tried to clear the slums - people just moved elsewhere.

2. Site and service schemes: These are schemes whereby the government will provide a site (a small concrete ‘hut’) and basic amenities such as water and sewer facilities. The migrant is given rights of ownership and then expected to complete the work at his or her expense. This is often done as a cooperative between groups of migrants. In other situations, the authorities just provide the plot and building materials for the migrants to construct their own homes.

These schemes are relatively cheap and give the migrants a sense of control over their future. They also encourage community spirit.

3. Rehabilitation (Multiroes self-help schemes): An alternative to this scheme is to provide the residents of the shanty towns with the materials to improve their existing shelters. Residents are also encouraged to set up community schemes to improve education and medical services. Residents may also be given rights of ownership whilst local authorities come in and provide electricity, water and sewerage disposal. e.g. Favella Monte Azul

It is a cheaper option than the site and service schemes but simply hides the real problems. The germs may not have been removed, the land still unsuitable and the water/sewer system still not adequate.

4. Housing developments: Large areas of shanty towns were cleared, tower blocks built and the shanty town residents re-housed. e.g. Cingapura Housing Project

5. Charities: charity projects provide jobs and other benefits such as pensions and medical care. e.g. Focolare Movement

6. Transport: Transport - underground metro system - improves movement of people and reduces pollution, new roads, new train and bus services, pedestrianised CBD and parking restrictions.

7. Industrial estates: New industrial estates with water, sewerage and electricity are located close to the favellas to provide business premises and jobs