Planning For Informal Activities

Project and Seminar Material for Environmental Science

Planning For Informal Activities

Chapter One


Background of the Study

The Urban settlement over the world witness great influx of people from the rural area. These people move to the urban centres because of the basic infrastructure and services rendered. The white collar job (Formal activities) cannot cater for the increased population; as such, informal activities takes off. These informal activities if not planned and controlled, contravene the provision of the planned Urban settlement. Urbanisation is not uniform; there is huge diversity, both within regions and individual countries. The emergence of huge urban configurations can support regional economic development through improving inter-connectivity and interdependence among cities. Urban Corridors, for example, include the industrial corridor developing in India between Mumbai and Delhi, and the greater Ibadan-Lagos-Accra urban corridor – spanning roughly 600 kilometres linking Nigeria, Benin, Togo and Ghana, and provides the engine of West Africa’s regional economy. On the other hand, these fast growth and rapidly urbanising areas also contribute to unbalanced regional development as a result of strengthened urban primacy (UNHABITAT, 2010).

It is important to remember that despite their economic clout, there are relatively few large urban concentrations. Much urbanisation is actually occurring within a large number of urban centres in Africa, Asia and Latin America that lack the economic, administrative or political status normally considered for classification as a ‘city’ (Satterthwaite, 2002:15). Around two-thirds of the urban population in developing regions are in urban centres with less than 1 million inhabitants (Environment and Urbanisation, 1995, in Grant, 2010), particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. There has been a rise in the number and prosperity of secondary cities across Latin America and the Caribbean in recent years too, showing that smaller cities have capacity to attract new investment away from largest cities.

There is an economic logic to where rapid urbanisation has taken place, and yet, at the same time, most urban growth is driven by natural increase with only about 25% driven by rural-urban migration. Unsurprisingly migration is more significant where countries are urbanising from a predominantly rural context, (East and Southern Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, North Africa and the Middle East). One of the reasons why urban change has been so rapid in recent decades is that it began from such a small base2. Conflict- affected countries and regions have particularly strong urban growth rates, and increasing refugee numbers are shifting from camps to cities in Africa (Sommers, 2011:319).

Net in- migration to urban centres across Africa has slowed. In Uganda, violent conflict is driving in-migration to towns in Gulu and Lira, but otherwise it has been small (or negative) component of urban growth (Potts, 2009: 354). The proportion of residents living in Niger’s 36 main towns increased just 1 per cent between 1988 and 2001, and in Benin the population share living in towns with more than 10,000 residents increased by less than 1 per cent between 1992 and 2002 (Potts, 2009) . This slowing down in in-migration does not necessarily reflect reduced population mobility but the result of a considerable increase in circular migration, resulting from negative urban experiences for large numbers of urban residents for whom there is no economic safety net (Potts, 2009).

Despite the headline figures above, there is evidence that some sub-Saharan African countries are now stagnating or urbanising very slowly (e.g. Benin, Mozambique, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger) . Circular migration is reducing the contribution of in-migration to urban growth in these countries. Evidence from Côte d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso shows very significantly that urban–rural migration streams have become less, not more, age- specific, and many young people are among those leaving the cities (Beauchemin, et al, 2004, in Potts, 2009:257). Potts (2009:254) concludes these trends reflect declining economic opportunities in many urban areas, and indicate crises in urban poverty and livelihood security.

Thus, we need to caution against straightforward interpretations of international comparison statistics on urbanisation. Satterthwaite (2002:12) argues that the world would acquire several hundred million more urban dwellers overnight if India or China were to change their definitions of ‘urban centres’ to those used by nations such as Peru or Sweden, and this would also result in most poverty in India (and Asia) becoming ‘urban’. Similarly, definitions and re-definitions of ‘urban settlements’ at the at the lower end of the urban hierarchies in Kenya and Tanzania have rendered overall growth rates and levels reported in censuses ‘extremely misleading (and exaggerated) in recent decades’ (Potts, 2009:254). Regional and international generalisations are not straight forward, a point that requires recognition greater than a footnote.

Statement of the Problem

Abuja is the current capital of Nigeria and it’s located in the North Central region of the country. At the creation of Abuja, the government of Nigeria sought the idea of the city as seat of government, a place of and a symbol of unity, a melting pot of Nigeria’s diverse cultures, and a magnet of diverse peoples and nations (FCDA, 1979). This sense of aspiration emerged from the urban problems experienced in Lagos, and also acted as a pilot for the policies and strategic guidelines for the urban development of the new capital city. Lagos was the former capital of Nigeria but was relocated to Abuja due to rapid rise in rent, over population, location of Lagos close to the sea side which was prone to attacks, overcrowding, rapid slum growth, health hazards, small land mass and saturated development down south.

The vision towards the creation of Abuja in the mid-1970s focused on the attainment of a city that would be developed based on a more-people centred urban planning and developmental policies. The city was envisioned to provide a sense of place for every Nigerian, irrespective of their tribe and status in the society. Thereby creating a city with emphasis on integrating and serving the people as a symbol of unity and greatness. With focus on sustainable urban development as its watch word (Jibril, 2006). The current outcome of the city is a combination of various challenges which includes high crime level, unemployment, health issues, poverty, overstretched public facilities/infrastructures, high population density and poor planning policies. Therefore rather than solving a problem by moving the capital the present state of the capital has not tackled the pressing challenges in which urban areas face within the country. The remaining sections of this paper would look at the definition of Urbanisation from a global perspective, urbanisation and urban growth, challenges/consequences of urbanisation, urbanisation in Nigeria’s and its challenges and lastly recommendation/conclusion.

Objective of the Study

The aim of this study is to examine the consequences of not planning for informal activities. This is majorly as a result of rural-urban migration. Specifically, the study will seek:

  1. To determine the challenges of urbanization.
  2. To determine the consequences of urbanization.
  3. To determine the benefits of urbanization.

Research Questions

The study was guided by the following by the following:

  1. What are the challenges of urbanization?
  2. What are the consequences of urbanization?
  3. What are the benefits of urbanization?

Significance of the Study

The housing policy makers will find the results of this study useful. This will aid in shaping the already established policies or intending policies. The study furthermore will serve as a reference material for further researches.

Organization of the Study

The study was divided into five chapters. The first chapter highlights the research problem, objectives and significance. The chapter two review previous studies on the informal activities in the urban areas that accrue as a result of massive urban drift. The third chapter describes the methodology adopted and employed in the study. The fourth chapter presents data that answers the research questions; while the fifth chapter draws a conclusion on the topic.

Chapter Five

Conclusion and Recommendations

Urbanisation possesses many benefits. The increase in the population and the industrialisation provides a higher level and availability of skill required to provide the necessary services for a good and prosperous life. The primary benefit of urbanisation is the economic value. The combination of diverse people, their idea and experiences, make urban centres a whirlpool of economic activities and industrialisation. The increased population and their proximity makes room for economics of scale, higher wages, foster an innovative environment and allows for the development complex systems. Though these benefits could be gotten from urbanisation, the research has also shown that the propensities for many issues to arise are high. As noted by UN-HABITAT (2013), urbanisation in many instances has led to increased poverty and deprivation. Browne (2014) notes that this increased poverty in urban areas manifests into the increasing number of urban slums and limited access to services like health care, education and security. There also is the increased vulnerability of people to oppression, and the environmental challenges that ensue.
The process of urbanisation cannot be left to chance. There is always a pertinent need for constant study in understanding, not only the historical and cultural factors that can affect the development of a society, but the employment of research analysis process to anticipate the challenges. Most, as shown in this study, arise from the unchecked population growth. This, as repeatedly argued, leads to numerous challenges that continually are exacerbated by the increasing complexity of societies.

Urbanisation in some cases results to urban development which is a multi-faceted process engaging the services of multi-disciplinary professionals. It entails coordinating and harmonising the various land-use decisions and building activities of a multitude of actors (government institutions and agencies, stakeholders, civil society organisations, and individuals) by the established planning agencies at all tiers of government in the country.

For the benefits of urbanisation to be harnessed, the following, though briefly stated, are the recommendations of this study:

  1. There should be consistency in policy developed within the urban development framework which should have a long term planning approach. Also these policies should be constantly revisited under short/medium term planning approach to follow current development within urban sciences.
  2. There should be consistent data collection which should feed into the research which should also affect the development within the changing nature of society
  3. Sustainability Urban Assessment Tool/Framework should be established in order to act as a mechanism for promoting the participation and collaboration of major actors involved in the process of achieving sustainable urbanism.
  4. Develop a capacity and promote a shared understanding by all actors of their roles and responsibilities in urban development and management.
  5. Build capacities of relevant agencies and actors to effectively perform their roles and responsibilities in promoting sustainable urban development and management and supervise the activities of the physical planning regulatory bodies.
  6. Rural spaces are home to people with very low productive skills which, when brought to cities, have little relevance for their sustenance. The difference between developed societies like in Europe is that when people migrate they bring in skills while in Nigeria most of the people from the rural spaces are farmers without skills, making them unable to contribute which creates an imbalance of skills. The government should encourage the development of skills in both rural and urban settlements in order to reduce the level of urbanisation and to help increase people’s development.
  7. Most urban spaces in Nigeria are in their infancy and there are opportunities because the country is currently battling with urban planning problems and challenges, in the sense that most of the major metropoles are growing exponentially. The government can intervene in controlling the master plan and proposing a sustainable strategic growth pattern. Overall the researcher recommends that the government reviews master plans for sustainable purposes.
  8. Build and strengthen the capacities of relevant ministries, departments and agencies to facilitate the adaptation of sustainable urban development principles and also provide necessary support and incentives to the private sector to effectively participate in the establishment of sustainability assessment schemes.
  9. Build and strengthen the capacities of state planning boards and local planning authorities to implement these schemes using a top-down approach.

All this recommendation if properly taken into consideration will help in achieving a truly sustainable urban development in Nigeria, making provision for informal activities.

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