World Cities Day (31st Oct, 2018)

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The term Urbanization is from a latin word “urb” for cities. Urbanization is the growing number of people in a society in urban area. There may be pull or push factors that attract or result in urbanization.

There are four types of urbanization;

  1. Metropolitan - this occur as a result of continuous expansion of built up area in the suburbs of a larger city or neighboring villages.
  2. Regional centre type – appears as a new urban center or development of existing town at a nodal point of a region.
  3. Industrial – come about as a result of an appearance of a newly industrial tract in the country.
  4. The old fashioned industrial type – achieved in the form of the development of urban industrial or old fashioned local cottage industries in a region based on local agriculture generated capital.

Kenya has also experienced massive urbanization since her independence. Some of the cities that have developed as a result of urbanization are Kisumu, Eldoret, Nairobi, Thika, Garrisa, Mombasa etc.

The growth of these cities has led to a variety of challenges including:

Air pollution, poor waste disposal systems, inadequate of public utilities, shortage of community social halls and children playgrounds, uncontrolled open air markets, environmental degradation, mushrooming of informal settlements, shortage of jobs, poor governance, safety and sanitation issues, insufficient road networks and crucial infrastructure, overpopulation, moral decay – prostitution, human trafficking and homelessness.

These challenges are present in all cities or urban areas in the country. Nevertheless, they can be overcome if Kenya works hard to achieve sustainable urban development. This is a process of synergetic integration and co – evaluation among the subsystems making up a city. These may be economic, social, physical and environmental subsystems. These guarantee the local population a non decreasing level of well being in the long term, without compromising the future generation.

To achieve this, the country needs to develop; 

  1.  New urban agenda by strengthening municipal finance, attracting investment and taping domestic or local regional investors
  2. Promote territorial development by reducing poverty, developing projects in transport, water, agriculture and livelihood in order to connect regions to national and global markets
  3. Enhance urban resilience to climate change and disaster risk by sharing experiences with other global cities on climate action, sustainable development and socio – economic ramification.

Despite, existing challenges and the need to re look at impending urgent solutions to ratify and make urban areas a comfortable place to live in, urban areas in Kenya provide immense opportunities. These opportunities can be tapped for the betterment of the country and the region at large.

These opportunities include;

  1. Social – ethnic and cultural diversity leads to experience in different religions, languages, culture  and food leading to national unity
  2. Economic benefit – generate employment from mushrooming jobs, households, offices, entrainment facilities, schools etc.
  3. Environmental - urbanization can lead to clean environment, encourage exercise through walking and gyms etc.
  4. Creation and dissemination of knowledge cities
  5. Ease and access to goods and services

Wednesday the 31st of this month is dedicated to cities and the theme for this day is based on challenges, sustainable urbanization and opportunities provided by cities. The issue of urbanization will not go away for a very long time, may be what we should be addressing is ways we could make the rural area attractive and sustainable to people. If we reduce the push and pull factors to the urban areas only then will we be able to improve our cities. Too much influx of people into cities also leads to imbalances of agriculture and reduces population in the rural areas.

Compiled by Grace C. Sitienei – University of Nairobi Library

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