The rate of urbanization has been increasing rapidly since the second half of the 20th century. The impact urbanization has on the environment has attracted considerable attention. The viewpoints on the impact and the experience in Nigeria, particularly in the two new cities of Abuja and Yenagoa, are analyzed. The data collection involves an extensive review of literature, consultation of government documents and interview of government officials. Three schools of thought on the relationship between urbanization and the environment are identified and discussed. These are the environment deterioration facilitator school, the development-stage dependent facilitator school and the environmental-deterioration dampener school. The position of the environment deterioration facilitator school is that the emergence and functioning of a city always results in environmental decay while the development stage dependent perspective argues that the degree of impact varies with the developmental stage of the city or more appropriately the level of development of the country where the city is located. The third school posits that urbanization, rather than resulting in environmental deterioration, dampens environmental decay. A general impact analysis of Nigerian cities, based on solid waste pollution, sewage pollution, water pollution, air pollution and noise pollution, indicates that, although the impact has declined over the years, it continues to be considerable. A more detailed examination of the situation in the two new towns of Abuja and Yenagoa shows clearly the role effective environmental management plays in an amelioration of the impact. The Nigerian experience indicates that the development-stage-dependent facilitator school of thought is the most relevant.
Key words: Urbanization, environmental deterioration, new towns, Nigeria.
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