THE NEXUS BETWEEN URBANISATION AND ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTION

By Juliet Efalola Thomas

Pollution happens when nature is unable to destroy harmful substances faster than they are introduced into the environment. These pollutants can be natural or created by human activities and damage the quality of air, land and water; therefore, elimination may take some time. This problem has been ongoing in our world for the longest time. It causes severe harm to the environment and humans as well. The earth suffocates as contaminants are added to the environment every second.

Looking at the types of pollutions, we can deduce that they are all linked to development and urbanisation. For instance, air pollution is caused by hazardous substances like smoke and other toxic gases—domestic and industrial wastes runoff into rivers and lakes. Garbage gets mixed in the rain and washed away into the ocean and pollutes marine habitats. Traffic, machines, crowded streets, and loudspeakers all surmount to noise pollution in urban settings. Accidental leakages by nuclear power plants pose a significant threat of radioactive pollution. When toxins are mixed in the soil, soil pollution occurs. All these are detrimental to plants, animals and humans, as most of the food we consume come from the earth.


Urbanisation involves people from rural areas moving to urban areas mostly because of perceived opportunities in those cities. It can also occur in rural areas with factories' opening, construction of buildings, roads, hospitals, etc. It goes hand in hand with economic development. The level of pollution increases as industrialisation ensues.


In developing countries like Sierra Leone, where industrialisation is on the increase, pollution is inevitable. It is common for factories' waste products to pollute our environment because of the lack of deterrent. Fossil fuel, which is used in factories cause air pollution. Water and soil pollution occurs when industrial waste products are washed away into the soil and water.

Similar to the pollution caused by factories and industries, transportation also causes air pollution. The marked increase in the number of fossil fuel vehicles plying the roads of Freetown and other cities has exacerbated air pollution. Also, the continuous burning of waste two of Freetown' largest Bomehs in Kingtom and Kissy is a health hazard for Freetonians.


As urbanisation occurs, there is an increase in modernised agricultural activities also. The production of a large number of crops increases the probability of infestation of plant pest and diseases. In a bid to control the spread of those pests and diseases, modern-day farmers may use pesticides to get rid of them. These harmful chemicals in pesticides not only kill the pests but also pollutes the soil and water. Also, as intensive agricultural activities are carried out to cater for the increasing population, more ecosystems are destroyed to accommodate more crops.


Mining activities involve the unearthing, crushing, and moving of rocks, which significantly increase the number of dust particulates in the air. It is a common practice in Sierra Leone as the mining industry is the leading industry in development. Another prevalent pollution problem is water sachet ["Plastic Wata"] litter. Where do you think all of them end? Plastic is one of the leading causes of water pollution and is detrimental to the land and water environment. These and many other types of plastic accumulate over time as marine litter.


Urbanisation has been a blessing to human civilisation. Yet, it is also its Achilles heel when the environment's destruction is not taken into consideration. As people migrate from rural areas to cities, life becomes more advanced, but this advancement comes with pollution. Hence, we should make conscious efforts to keep our environment liveable, even as the world develops and revolves because we have only one earth.


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