Ghana, a population of almost 28 million people with it’s capital Accra having almost 3 million of that. Amazingly the number of indigenes of Accra found here account for less that 60% of the City’s population. The situation in other big urban cities such as Kumasi, Takoradi and Cape Coast is virtually the same. Urbanization is always a tricky subject because everyone wants financial success and a better life.
There is a general notion that wealth and success can only be found in the big cities. Due to this, every year, millions of rural folk migrate to the urban areas to seek greener pastures. Although it is somewhat true that people who leave their villages to the urban areas in the hope of a better life usually get what they want,it has adverse effects on the nation’s economy. Many sectors of the economy get a hard hit by rapid urbanization with so many challenges. Jumia Travel, Africa’s leading online travel website looks at a few top challenges which comes as a result of rapid urbanization and how we can address them.
Overcrowding (Homelessness) – Rapid urbanization is synonymous with overcrowding and homelessness. When a lot of people move into the big cities, the city becomes overcrowded since the homes and housing facilities were originally designed to fit a certain number of people. Lack of adequate housing causes increased slums as many rural folk who move to the urban cities will have to create their own settlements to get shelter.
Poor living standards – With urbanization comes a lot of other disadvantages. Notable among them are high rent charges. When there is a lack of adequate housing facilities, landlords or owners of housing facilities increase their rates on rents making it difficult for poor urban dwellers to afford. Even those with good income may have to settle for less expensive accommodation options due to the costs. Also amenities such as water and electricity may be at a premium. In some areas, there is often a shortage of water and power fluctuations because of the excess pressure on these resources which often tend to be scarce.
Sanitation – one area that greatly gets affected is sanitation. The more people there are in a particular place at a particular time, the more difficult it is to keep clean. Refuse disposal, waste management, littering among others becomes a challenge. Unless there is a proper waste management system, the entire city or community is often prone to disease outbreaks. In recent times, malaria and cholera have been catastrophic illnesses in major cities as it spreads like wildfire due to congestion caused by rapid urbanization.
Criminals and Street violence – Where do we find the most criminals? Where do we hear or experience much violence. Your guess is as good as mine. They are found mainly in the slums which are caused by a lack of housing for many rural folk who have migrated to urban areas. When there is rapid urbanization, crime rates increase with the streets being unsafe. Armed robbery, theft, rape and other types of violence pick up because people need to survive and they often turn to these as a means of survival.
Pressure on transportation and infrastructure – other critical area where rapid urbanization affects the nation are transportation and infrastructure. Already, the transportation systems in these urban cities are not adequate to cater for the demanding needs of the people. Although recently, trains and more buses have been added to our transportation sector but still, there is a little gap to be filled. With more people trooping in, buses need to make more trips or carry more people at a time. Human traffic will increase with a rippling effect on hospitals, banks and other facilities.
Sometimes, when we identify problems without possible solutions, then the problems remain problems. Stating a few possible solutions may go a long way to sensitize policy makers and the authorities involved to take action. A well structured urban plan is needed. We have to find a way of planning our cities to accommodate a good number of urban travellers or anticipate the influx of more rural dwellers in the near future. Town and City planning is very important if we are to be well equipped to handle the pressures associated with rapid urbanization. Secondly, policy makers can be proactive in making laws and legislations or enacting policies that will regulate urban migration. Providing adequate resources such as as dams for hydroelectric power, good drainage systems as well as proper waste management systems will put us in a better position to handle rapid urbanization.
Credit : Bennet Otoo. Jumia Travel