| ||Madagascar has one of the greatest rates of demographic growth in Africa, nearly 3 percent a year. The population is over 20 million and more than half is under twenty. Economic problems have led many rural residents to move to the city in search of work. The lack of housing is particularly serious in the center of the country, in the Antananarivo region: some of the 2 million inhabitants of the Malagasy capital live in shantytowns built on old rice paddies and marshes. The massive urbanization of the area is impinging on the traditional agricultural system, now being covered over with hasty constructions, most of which are not serviced. This anarchic building is leading to significant sanitary problems and causing massive erosion, which are catastrophic for once cultivated valley bottoms and slopes. Brickyards surrounding the city exploit the superficial layers of clay in the rice paddies to produce burnt and adobe bricks, reducing the rice paddies’ yield and potentially sterilizing fertile land permanently.
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