The out-migration of West African cities
A few years ago the world reached 50% urbanization for the first time in history. The drive towards urbanization was perhaps primarily sparked by the rural poor moving towards ‘green’ or more concrete pastures, as it were. The reverse in starting to happen in West Africa however. As urban centers are now too congested, unsafe, unsanitary, and without employment opportunities, people are returning to the rural communities.
“Results of studies by the Network of Surveys on Migration and Urbanization in West Africa (NESMUWA) show that human conditions in the largest capital cities have deteriorated so sharply that the patterns of migration from the country-side are starting to shift. Such findings (of counter urbanisation) are bound to surprise or generate skepticism among a number of observers, since they run counter to the dominant wave of predictions and projections on urbanization, some of which are examined by our contributors in this publication.
Implications from CDD
“Principally, overall, these emerging new findings are significant because they draw attention to the existence of potential new dynamics of internal migration patterns that are worth further investigation and careful reflections. One key question would be whether the observed urban out-migration is a temporary anomaly, or whether it constitutes a long-term trend that would eventually characterize neighboring countries in the region.”
Implications from IFTF:
The out-migration may not signal the end of urbanization as suggested, but a shift in the global urbanization mechanisms. As cities continue to grow and max out their capacity to accommodate more people, the urbanization processes will move to the rural areas. We will increasingly begin to formerly rural areas become urban.
Sources:CCD January 2011 pg. 2