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Kathmandu, Christmas Day 1970...
…and the same view thirty years later
© Mark Edwards/Hard Rain Picture Library
In 1970 it was mist over the mountains, now it’s smog. The earth has been transformed by human activities – from a planet dominated by rural populations to one dominated by cities. Forty years ago Kathmandu had barely 200,000 inhabitants. When the second picture was taken, its population had swelled to over a million. For the first time in human history as many people live in an urban environment as in a rural one. Most new urbanites live in illegal shanty towns, where they demonstrate great ingenuity in coping with incredibly difficult circumstances.
Urbanization presents an opportunity to tackle poverty that would not be possible in a rural setting. In cities it is easier to provide greater numbers of people with education, health services, jobs, shelter and family planning services that together could help slow population growth.