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The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia$
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Avijit Gupta

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199248025

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199248025.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 30 November 2021

The Urban Environment in Southeast Asia

The Urban Environment in Southeast Asia

(p.314) 18 The Urban Environment in Southeast Asia
The Physical Geography of Southeast Asia

Ian Douglas

Oxford University Press

As elsewhere, the major cities of Southeast Asia suffer from traffic congestion, air pollution, water supply shortages, garbage disposal inefficiencies, and sewage treatment inadequacies (Barrow 1981). Such problems are not confined to the capital cities and other centres of over a million population. They are prevalent, and often worse, in hundreds of smaller towns of a thousand to a million inhabitants. Most such urban centres have a large proportion of poor, ill-housed people who have difficulty in doing anything to improve their environment. At the same time, the bigger cities will also have some select, well-managed, often walled and gated, suburbs where the quality of housing and water and sanitation services is excellent. However, all social groups may be vulnerable to the air pollution and disease risks associated with a generally poor urban environment. Floods, landslides, and subsidence also do not distinguish the wealth or social status of their victims. These multiple, overlapping urban environmental problems are a response to a complex set of causes or drivers. The character of cities and towns in tropical Southeast Asia is driven in part by the types of human activity within and around them and in part by the environment in which they are situated. The hot and often humid climate has increasingly led to changes in house design from buildings with verandas and arcades designed to be cooled by natural air flows, to more boxlike structures dependent on air conditioning. The exhausts from the air conditioners inevitably add heat to the outside air, warming the immediate urban environment, often making the narrow streets of many cities hotter and more uncomfortable than they otherwise would be. The design and character of buildings are governed by environmental, aesthetic, functional, and cost considerations. In part building styles reflect the type of shelter needed and in part they make statements about their owners and the activities which go on inside them. It is the same with the settlement as a whole. A town or village has features that help it to cope with the natural environment around it, especially heavy rains and strong winds.

Keywords:   agriculture, beach ridge, carbon dioxide, drought, endemic diseases, fire, groundwater, karst, land reclamation, migration

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