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CRECIMIENTO DE LAS CIUDADES EN EL ECUADOR …. ¿ESTAMOS PREPARADOS PARA EL FUTURO ?

Javier Salazar Gallardo

Es innegable el crecimiento acelerado que tienen hoy en día las ciudades en todo el mundo. Cada día miles de personas dejan los campos para vivir en asentamientos urbanos, así como también, cada día más personas se integran al mundo laboral, al comercio que está concentrado en las ciudades donde se reúne una gran población que requiere productos o servicios. Como consecuencia, las ciudades crecen y por lo tanto aumentan sus necesidades de energía, agua, servicios básicos, etc. Una ciudad que sobrepasa los 10 millones de habitantes se conoce como megaciudad.
Si bien es cierto de acuerdo a las estadísticas de crecimiento de la población ecuatoriana, ninguna ciudad de nuestro país alcanzará la categoría de megaciudad, estas si crecerán bastante y alcanzarán niveles en los cuales se presenten a menor escala los mismos problemas que presentarán las grandes ciudades del mundo. Debemos por tanto hacernos la pregunta: ¿Estamos preparados para enfrentar este fenómeno de crecimiento urbano en el futuro?
De acuerdo a un informe publicado por las Naciones Unidas, En 1950, una tercera parte de la población mundial vivía en ciudades. Sólo 50 años después, esta cifra aumentó a la mitad y continuará aumentando a dos tercios, o 6 000 millones de personas, en 2050. Estas cifras muestran una realidad en todo el planeta: en las ciudades reside actualmente más de la mitad de la población mundial y sigue aumentando. El crecimiento de las ciudades genera mayores necesidades que deben ser satisfechas con recursos apropiados. ¿Cómo atender la enorme necesidad de energía eléctrica que demandan estos centros urbanos tan grandes? ¿Cómo garantizar el suministro y distribución de agua potable en un mundo en que hay una aguda escasez de este líquido vital?, ¿Cómo implementar sistemas de transporte eficientes para esta gran cantidad de gente? ¿Qué decir de la construcción de vivienda?, ¿El acceso a servicios de educación y de salud?, ¿ Las necesidades de entretenimiento, etc.?
Las grandes megaciudades del mundo en su mayoría no han logrado solucionar estos problemas y como consecuencia presentan gran disparidad en su territorio donde han proliferado grandes zonas de pobreza, cinturones de miseria en zonas específicas de los centros urbanos, en los cuales viven con una permanente escasez de recursos.
En nuestro país este fenómeno no ha alcanzado las proporciones de otros centros urbanos mucho mayores debido a que nuestras ciudades albergan a poblaciones mucho menores. Sin embargo es preocupante el hecho de que si al momento con una pequeña población muchas de las ciudades ecuatorianas no han sido capaces de garantizar los servicios básicos a sus habitantes, ¿qué podemos esperar en el futuro, cuando el crecimiento presione las necesidades de estos centros urbanos? ¿Estamos planificando para este futuro que está a la vuelta de la esquina?
Los gobiernos autónomos descentralizados que son los encargados directos de la planificación urbana no muestran estudios a largo plazo que nos permitan asegurar que están planificando acertadamente. El Municipio del Distrito Metropolitano de Quito por ejemplo, tiene un plan hasta el año 2025, en el cual el principal objetivo es fomentar el crecimiento vertical de la ciudad aumentando la densidad ocupacional del terreno, pero, sin una política clara de planificación de crecimiento a mayor plazo. Ciudades como Cuenca o Guayaquil no han hecho públicos, si es que los tuvieren, programas de desarrollo urbano a más de 10 años y lo que muestran habla solo de la ocupación del terreno sin una planificación integral que vaya más allá de los períodos de trabajo de los gobiernos municipales. ¿Qué decir de las demás ciudades del país? Algunas de las cuales muestran crecimientos explosivos pero totalmente desorganizados, como en el caso de Santo Domingo o Durán.
Desde el gobierno central, el encargado de la planeación urbana debería ser el Ministerio de Coordinación de Desarrollo Social como máximo organismo y como brazo ejecutor el Ministerio de Desarrollo Urbano y Vivienda. Además, como organismo de apoyo está la Secretaría Nacional de Planificación. Sin embargo no se ve una política clara que permita vislumbrar cuál es la política del Estado en este campo, lo que nos debe generar honda preocupación por los problemas crecientes que aparecerán en los años venideros.
Por lo expuesto podemos concluir que en nuestro país no hay una verdadera planificación acerca del desarrollo urbano, por lo que desde los diferentes foros académicos y profesionales debemos plantear este tema. Estamos a las puertas de que se realice en Quito en el mes de octubre de 2016, la Cumbre Habitat III, máximo foro de las Naciones Unidas en temas de planificación urbana, esperamos que con este motivo se inicie en el país un diálogo del tema del desarrollo urbano. Aún estamos a tiempo para establecer políticas claras que nos permita enfrentar con éxito el desafío que se nos viene y lograr llevar al Ecuador a un modelo de desarrollo urbano sustentable.

Referencias:
1.- www.presidencia.gob.ec; Estructura Orgánica de la Función Ejecutiva de la República del Ecuador, 2016-04-10
2.- EYGM Limited, 2015; Megatrends 2015 Making sense of a world in motion; www.EY.com;
3.- ONU Habitat Brochure; ONU Habitat por un mejor futuro urbano; www.unhabitat.org
4.- El proceso urbano en el Ecuador. Instituto Latinoamericano de Investigaciones Sociales
5.- www.quito.gob.ec; Plan Metropolitano de Ordenamiento Territorial 2012…...

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