At a time of rapid urbanization in Africa, institutions of higher learning have been challenged to highlight the importance of rural-urban linkages. UN-HABITAT's Executive Director, Mrs. Anna Tibaijuka, posed this challenge at the Sokoine University of Agriculture 2003 convocation held on 27 November 2003. In her speech, Mrs. Tibaijuka stated that the strength of these linkages would determine the living conditions of people in both urban and rural areas of Africa. Such disciplines as agricultural economics needed to be linked to urban economics through regional development planning methods, cultural anthropology, geography, social research, ecology and engineering.
|Mrs Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director,UN-HABITAT|
The world is experiencing rapid urbanization, 80 per cent of the total population in the highly industrialized countries now lives in urban areas. Cities in developing countries are now the fastest growing cities in the world. Cities of the least developed countries (LDCs) are currently experiencing an average 5 per cent annual rate of urbanization. By 2010, Mumbai (Bombay), Lagos and San Paolo will be the world's second, third and fourth largest cities. The kind of environmental stress that these locations will have on neighbouring rural areas is obvious. “Rather than treat rural and urban as different and competing development spaces, both areas need to be developed so as to grow in parallel,” said Mrs. Tibaijuka.
Offering her home country of Tanzania as an example, she stated that although the overall population had grown by 50 per cent in the past 15 years, growth in rural Tanzania was comparatively slower than the growth of urban areas. 30 years ago only 7 in every 100 Tanzanian lived in the city, that number has now grown to 1 in every 3 people and by the year 2030, that number is expected to rise to 2 in every 3 people.
Unfortunately the people migrating to cities encounter unexpected difficulties, and are frequently have no access to basic services such as water and sanitation or shelter and are unable to find employment. At the same time productivity in the rural areas has either stagnated or regressed. Premature urbanisation, not accompanied by rises in rural productivity and improvements in transport and marketing infrastructure can also lead to food insecurities in the cities. In conclusion, Mrs. Tibaijuka stated stressed the role of institutions of higher learning in training policy makers to find the correct balance between rural and urban development.