- Urbanisation in Isolation: Suicide for Sustainability?    click here to open paper content1505 kb
by    Komollo, Fawcett | foxomollo@gmail.com   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
Short Outline
There is need to gently worm African countries into the labyrinth of urbanization, rather than ram them through the urban experience as is happening today. Urbanization in isolation is suicide for sustainability for African Urbanization.
Urbanism is not a phenomenon for the future; it is here with us. In Europe and the Americas, urbanization has proceeded at a faster rate than Africa, perhaps due to their earlier urban experiences. Urban populations are today more than 50 per cent (since 2008). Interestingly, though Africa is a late entrant into the urbanization frenzy, and still predominantly rural, its rate of urban growth is the highest, globally. And while the developed world may have prepared to meet their urban futures, Africa’s urbanization comes at a time when much of the continent is still battling with basic challenges of food insecurity, poverty, water scarcity, energy and environmental pollution, among other ills. UN-HABITAT, (2010) has tacitly acknowledged the essence of integrating sustainability in planning for human settlements. It asserts that urban areas in both developed and developing countries will increasingly feel the effects of phenomena such as climate change, resource depletion, food insecurity, and economic instability. These are the main cells of the urban challenge. And Africa needs to be prepared. But to prepare Africa involves looking at the cocktail of opportunities and challenges that exist, and use them to forge the best way forward.

Urbanization is a pressure-cooker, almost literally. It is dangerous to allow cities to grow in isolation; within the pressure cooker. Recent calls for urban-oriented strategies (See UN-HABITAT, 2009; 2010), while they are justified by the projections for future urban earth, do not effectively consider current African urban reality. Afrocentric planning has for long held onto the rural-based character of African economies and settlements, which brings into question the mass transition into the urban realm. Agriculture still remains the backbone of most of the economies. At the same time, wanton urban sprawl is pushing agricultural land further and further from the towns as more rural land is gobbled up by urbanization, to greater counter-productive consequence, allusions to later-day slogans like ‘urban agriculture’ notwithstanding.

This paper seeks to put in perspective the necessity of planning for slower urban expansion; for a smaller urban imprint in Africa. As it were, there is a lot of misuse of land as political proclamations and populist decisions have brought huge tracts of land with very minimal vertical exploration close to the centre, result of which is wide urban settlements with few people and no services and resources. It looks at the strategic strengths of sprawl control, and puts a case for compact development and creation of distinct impermeable urban edges as the best option for sustainable African urbanization.
Urbanization, isolation, sustainable urbanization
click here to open paper content  Click to open the full paper as pdf document
click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper  Click to send an email to the author(s) of this paper