The City of Johannesburg. File image.
The City of Johannesburg. File image.

Joburg vs Cape Town: Who came out on top for “livability”?

By Sameer Naik Time of article published Jun 19, 2021

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Johannesburg - The old-age debate between Cape Town and Johannesburg seems to have been settled... well sort of.

And Johannesburg has come out on top.

This week, CBD and well-being brand released its list from the least to most stressful cities in the world, with the City of Gold slightly edging the Mother City in terms of better “livability”.

Johannesburg ranked 49 out of 100 cities in the 2021 Least and Most Stressful Cities Index, while Cape Town took 51st place.

The index, released on Thursday, rates factors like safety and security, socio-political stability, population density, air, light, and noise pollution levels, the amount of traffic congestion and weather conditions.

Over 500 global cities were assessed against a number of stress indicators in these categories, before those without reliable data were removed, leaving a final line-up of 100 cities, including Joburg and Cape Town.

The least stressful city is Reykjavik, in Iceland, ahead of Bern in Switzerland and Helsinki, Finland.

India’s Mumbai ranks as the most stressful city in the study, followed by Lagos in Nigeria and Manila in the Philippines.

Manila is the most densely populated city in the study, ahead of Doha in Qatar, and Kabul in Afghanistan.

People living in Reykjavik have the best air quality, followed by Edinburgh in the UK and Wellington in New Zealand.

The worst air quality was found to be in New Delhi, India, followed by Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and Karachi, Pakistan.

Citizens in Oslo, Norway, have the best access to healthcare, ahead of Sydney, Australia, and Tokyo, Japan.

Tokyo has the highest score for its Covid-19 response, meaning that it had the lowest stress impact on its citizens. Bangkok and Montreal ranked second and third.

While Johannesburg may have pipped Cape Town on the list, their ranking on certain factors compared to other countries don’t make for great reading.

Cape Town - 250310 - An aerial view of Cape Town's Atlantic seaboard including Green Point, Green Point stadium, Mouille Point and Table Mountain. Picture: Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency

In terms of safety and security, Johannesburg ranked as the fifth most dangerous city compared to 99 other cities, while they also have a measly ranking in terms of air pollution, ranking 84 out of a 100 countries.

Johannesburg also ranked 87 out of 100 cities for access to healthcare and 55 out of 100 for financial stress.

“There are a few factors that really hurt Johannesburg when it comes to being a relaxing city,” Pablo Martinez, press relations manager for told the Saturday Star.

“First, the city was placed 95 out of 100 and pollution number 84 out of 100. Lastly, but very important, these days the city was in the last 20% when it comes to access to healthcare,” added Martinez.

He added that not much had changed in Johannesburg over the past five years, with the city ranking similarly in a study done some years ago.

“A similar study was done five years ago and Johannesburg ranks similarly, therefore, not much has changed since then compared to other major cities.”

He added that the Covid-19 pandemic had played a role in the stress levels of cities around the world.

“Actions were taken by some local and national governments that had made a big difference in how their citizens feel.

“This has been a time of higher anxiety for everyone, but economic support and healthcare efficiency has not been equal among countries.

“It will take a few years, but a review of who did the right thing for its citizens will come to light, and this will be studied for decades to come.”

He said the city of Reykjavik was ranked as the least stressful city in the world due to its great governance.

“Data shows they are an open society that takes care of their resources, where strong economic and social safety nets allow their citizens to have a richer work-life balance, with fewer worries, and very good governance.”

Mumbai on the other hand earned its title of most stressful city in the world due to a number of factors including institutionalised inequality.

“Pollution, insecurity, institutionalized inequality are the basis of long unattended issues that make the city chaotic and stressful to millions of its citizens,” added Martinez.

Finn Age Hänsel, co-founder of VAAY, said the objective of the study was to show what cities can achieve for their citizens through effective governance, robust environmental policies and well-resourced social welfare systems.

“The aim is not to single out the cities which may lag behind in any of these areas, but rather highlight those which are leading examples of what can be done to improve the well-being of their inhabitants,” said Hänsel.

“We hope that the results of the study serve as a useful barometer for cities and citizens alike to reassess their environments and work together towards developing cities that are less stressful places to live.”

The Saturday Star

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