Sandra M.F. Costa
Leonardo Freire de Mello
A major concern moving academic discussions in social sciences is related to
the intensification of the urbanization process. Since 2010 more than half the world's
population is living in cities (UN, 2011). This situation becomes more complex if we
consider that 3,479,867 inhabitants occupy 3% of the planet total area and 71% of urban
population live in slums (UN, 2011), often in places with poor housing conditions and
in socio-environmental vulnerability1.
According to Hogan (2005), how city services are distributed makes them an
important component of environmental vulnerability. According to the author deficient
access to goods is go together with a inconsistent public services, which is added to the
living conditions of these vulnerable populations (Hogan, 2005, p. 331).
Improper use of space by society impacts it and can weaken the environment,
health and therefore the quality of life. In Brazil, the city gets equal prominence in this
discussion considering that is where is concentrated 84% of its population (IBGE,
2012). In this sense, social issues are fragmented into a series of problems related to
housing, health, sanitation and other services. Environmental vulnerability gets worse
due to the precarious or even absence of these services. Thus, the main challenge of the
different spheres of government must be founded on articulation of a coherent model of
development that considers natural processes, social, economic, political and cultural, to
cause the minimum impact on living space and quality of life.
Urban areas of the Amazon Region are in that context. Although predominantly
discussions on the region emphasize the contribution of emissions of greenhouse gases,
connected to deforestation, fires and advance of agribusiness, it is clear that Amazon is
not only "green," as cited by Professor Edna Castro (2008).
According to the IBGE (2012), between 1970 and 2010, the urban population of
the Amazon Region, which comprises nine states and 771 municipalities, grew by
575%. In 1970 this population represented 37% of the total population and in 2010
totalized 84%. These urban areas have fragile infrastructure and urban services (Guedes
et al., 2009; Brondizio and Costa, 2009). Further the specificities of this urban space.
According to the 2000 census (IBGE, 2012), only five cities, or 0.7% of the 760
Amazonian cities had 90-100% of households connected to a water system and 16.5%
the concept of socio-environmental vulnerability is based on coexistence and spatial overlap between
very poor population groups with high deprivation, considered social vulnerability, living in areas of
environmental risk or degradation, classified as environmental vulnerability (Ahmed, 2006).
had more than 60% of its households connected to a water supply system. In terms of
sewage systems, 96% of the total number of cities had less than 10% of households
connected to a public sewer system. The maps in Figure 1 show this reality.
Figure 1 – The maps show the distribution of the municipalities of the Amazon Region,
according to the percentage of urban households, in 2000: (a) connected to the sewage
system, (b) related to general water supply.
Between 2000 and 2010, the number of urban households in the Amazon
increased 45% increase, from 3,314,697 to 4,813,511. However, urban services and
infrastructure did not go along with this growth. According to the 2010 Census data
(IBGE, 2012), 73% of urban households had access to the system of water supply, 24%
had at least one bathroom. This indicator becomes poorer when you consider that only
19% of urban households with at least one bathroom in 2010 were connected to the
sewage system. In 2000, 14.7% of urban households were in the same condition. Even
increasing in 10 years, the investment in this service was not sufficient to achieve at
least 50% of these households.
The Amazonian Cities are predominantly small. These small towns, despite
having fragile economy, deeply dependent on federal government subsidies, and low
competence in offering services and urban facilities such as education, health and
infrastructure, perform an important role in the urban network of the Amazon Region
(Brondizio and Costa, 2009). These cities are considered as possibilities for
improvement of life for families which can access services and employment
opportunities in these places that are deficient or even non-existent in rural areas.
In this sense, we intend to discuss in this paper the situation of urban space in
the Brazilian Amazon in terms of infrastructure and socio-economic conditions, and the
conditions of sustainability, using the city of Ponta de Pedras, located in Para State, as
an example. We assume that small towns concentrated social problems and as a result,
environmental problems, using the city of Ponta de Pedras, located in Para State, as a
case study.
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extended abstract