Migration From The Countryside To Cities Environmental Sciences Essay

The desire to increase income encourages people who live in rural areas to leave their lands and homes. This movement is called ‘Urbanisation’ which means the migration from countryside to cities in particular in developing and poor countries. This terminology or buzzword emerges in Latin conference. It may be defined in different ways. MEDCs (more economics developed countries) and LEDCs (less economics developed countries), for example, have examined it in different ways. LEDCs have defined it as the encouragement of people who reside in rural areas to migrate to cities whereas MEDCs has defended it as a process of dysfunctional movement of people from country sides to large cities. In other words, urbanisation means disappearance of many aspects of life in areas which surround cities such as agriculture, as a consequence of the migration to large towns and cities. It may also be defined as Elliot (1999) says “the movement of people from communities concerned chiefly or solely with agriculture to other communities generally larger whose activities are primarily centered in government, trade, manufacture or allied interests”(Elliot. J.A. 1999).

The negative influences of this phenomenon have exceeded the positive effects. Therefore, most countries, in particular developed ones, have been attempting to reduce the population inside cities and towns. This step is responsible for maintaining sustainability for those countries particularly in the field of development. Sustainable development is known as “the ability of an activity or development to continue in the long term without undermining that part of the environment which sustains it” (SNH, 1993). In addition, it may be defined as the searching for high quality of living without affecting the environment (English Nature, 1993).

However, there is a contradiction between urbanisation and sustainable development, because urbanisation has tremendous problematic effects on environment whereas sustainable development seeks to create healthy cities and towns. Urbanisation in all countries has many negative effects therefore there are a considerable number of policies have been suggested to deter these problems. This project will present two problems of urbanisation, lack of space and increasing private cars’ owners then will highlight some causes of it and finally will suggest three solutions in order to solve these problems of urbanisation.



The prime reason behind people’s movement from rural areas to urban ones is that they seek higher living standards because they believe cities are more desirable than where they live. However, moving to cities without planning will cause many problems for both settlers and governments. Some troubles that may face squatters as a result of sudden and unplanned moving to cities are lack of basic living standards and pollution.


Because most migrants who desire to improve their income by moving to industrialised areas are poor and they cannot afford renting flats or buying houses, they will accept living anywhere even in ill developed places. As a result of this, settlers always reside in the edge of cities and it is known as shanty town. These settlements are always built in illegal ways therefore they lack of the basic elements of services such as water, sewerage system and health care (Bilham-Boult et al, 1999).

In advanced countries or even in developing countries, governments usually attempt to build cities in modern ways by establishing great infrastructures. These infrastructures are built to present good facilities for people such as road networks, transportation and sewerage systems. Also one of these facilities is to connect houses with main sources of water by constructing pipes of water. However, as discussed earlier, most settlements are built randomly, thus they have access to these important facilities. Hence, squatters are required to pay for water carts and this will cost them a considerable amount of money and sometimes paying for water will be unaffordable for them because most settlers are poor. In Accra, for example, only 35 per cent of houses have been connected to water sources and 24 per cent use basic pipes whereas 28 per cent of citizens buy water from water vending carts (Bilham-Boult et al, 1999).

Lack of pipes of water means lack of sewerage system, according to Bilham (1999) the pollution in shanty towns in particular the pollution in water has increased rapidly because some cities have no sewerage system therefore sewage is still drained directly to rivers and to main sources of water. Moreover, settlers build pits dug to gather the sewage into it, further, these pits dug may construct among the cities which responsible for bringing a huge numbers of bacteria and diseases for people who reside near it.


After discussing the main problems which may face squatters in shanty towns, the following paragraphs will point out some problems that may encounter governments due to urbanisation.

Unplanned moving from country sides to cities causes many problems for governments because that requires construct new infrastructures or even builds new territories for new comers and this will be very costly. Furthermore, the demands to create jobs for squatters will take place because most squatters sale their farms and lands to help them shift from rural areas to urban ones. Another problem is that the necessity of establishing social services such as health care, education and transportation will rise as well.

However, many solutions have been suggested to solve the problems of urbanisation. One of these solutions is that governments should encourage their farmers who live in rural areas to stay there by making all facilities which exist in cities available in countryside such as schools, health care centers and transportation. In addition, by making this step that will be very helpful to solve the problem of unemployment because that will increase the opportunities of migrants who desire to move to urban areas to find a job in their areas instead in urban areas.


Another problem that may be increased due to urbanisation is the increasing of private cars owners. Therefore, the following paragraphs will examine the causes and effects of rising vehicle use.


The most considerable cause of depending on private automobiles is the price because most cars’ companies have reduced the prices of the cars by making it very affordable. Hence, most people prefer buying cars rather than using public transportation because they believe using public transportation wastes time and money. Wasting time is due to the commuters are must walk from their homes and work to the nearest station and vice versa and they also spend a considerable amount of money because they must buy tickets for all travels even for small journeys.

This was not only the reason of increasing the number of private automobiles, but the reasonable price of fuels also encourages people to purchase cars. Moreover, the price of fuels compare with the tickets’ prices of journeys seems to be much more affordable for people in particular for large families.

However, the most significant reason beyond the reliance on cars is the shortage of public transportation. In many cities the rail networks and high ways do not cover all areas which surround cities. Therefore, most people are required to purchase cars particularly people who work away from the urban areas or people who live in rural areas and work in cities. In addition, some cities were built since 19th or early 20th century, thus they lack planning and good organisation which means they lack infrastructures. Because of this, it is very difficult for governments to rebuild and reorganise cities because that will cost the governments a huge amount of money.


As a result of increasing the number of private cars, many effects will emerge such as congestion, energy consumption, air pollution, noise, health and a significant number of accidents. However, the most important effect is air pollution because it is a consequence of congestion and energy consumption. Air pollution not only effects the environment of cities but it will also harm the health of people because it carries many emissions such as carbon dioxide.


Many solutions have been suggested to solve the problems of urbanisation. One of these solutions is to connect all areas which include the city itself and all areas surrounded it by one system. It may cost governments an enormous amount of money, but by taking this step public transportation will be more desirable than private vehicle. It will save time and money for commuters who move from place to place frequently.

Moreover, issuing uniform tickets of buses and railway with affordable and reasonable prices will be a most grateful solution in particular for large families. This step will ease transferring between public transportation by establishing short distances of travelling.

Finally, if governments want to reduce the number of cars they should raise taxes, parking fees and the price of fuels. This stage will encourage people to use public transportation. This encouragement also needs to create informative programmes to raise the awareness of people particularly in the harm of using private cars such as the pollution and the rapid increasing of accident rates.


The former paragraphs have stated the negative impacts of urbanisation in particular the problems of lack of space and the increase of private cars’ owners. A number of policies have been discussed by some governments which may be mainly helpful to solve the problematic negative influences of urbanisation.

As discussed earlier, urbanisation has a great deal of harmful impacts, they could be exceeded its benefits. One of these negative effects is that most settlements are built randomly therefore they lack basic living standards as well as basic elements of services. One of these services is to connect those settlements by main sources of water. Therefore, when these shanty towns lack pipes of water that will lead to another problem which is lack of sewerage system. As a result of lack of sewerage system, sewage is drained directly to rivers and main sources of water which is responsible for bringing a huge number of bacteria and disease for squatters who live in those towns.

Furthermore, these settlements are lacking to transportation because they were built in illegal ways which make governments unable to construct infrastructures in these shanty towns. In other words, if governments want to destroy these towns and rebuild it in modern ways that would cost them an enormous amount of money. This step may be unaffordable for some governments in particular for developing countries.

This issue has led to another consequence, the lack of infrastructures encourages settlers use their own cars which lead to traffic congestion, air pollution then healthy problems for people who reside in shanty towns and surrounded areas. Moreover, the reasonable prices of cars and fuels encourage people to purchase private automobiles because they have already an illustration which says” having a car will save time and money”, but sometimes this illustration may be wrong. Hence, many countries attempt to reduce cars uses by encouraging people to use public transportation as the best way to solve the problem of air pollution and traffic congestion.

To reduce cars uses, some solutions have been suggested; one of them is to connect all areas by one system of public transportation. This step may be very costly for some governments, but it will reduce the uses of private vehicles. Moreover, issuing a uniform ticket for buses and railways will make public transportation more desirable than using private cars.

On the other hand, some solutions have been suggested to solve the problems of urbanisation in general. One of these solutions is to encourage people to stay in rural areas by establishing all the desirable facilities which exist in large cities such as schools, hospitals and public transportation in countryside. Also governments must produce informative programmes for those squatters who want to migrate from rural areas to megacities. For those people who want to continue searching in this area, this project recommends them to search how governments can set up informative programmes effectively to persuade migrants to stay in rural areas.


Adams, W.M. (1999). Sustainability. In P. Cloke, P. Crang & M. Goodwin (Eds.), Introducing human geographies (pp. 125-130). London: Arnold.

Bilham-Boult, Blades, H., Hancock, J., Keeling, W. & Ridout, M. (1999). People, places and themes (pp. 202-205; P. 208). Oxford: Heinemann.

Elliot, J.A (1999). An introduction to sustainable development. London: Routledge.

Newman, P. (1999). Transport: reducing automobile dependence. In D. Satterthwaite (Ed.), The Earthscan reader in sustainable cities (pp. 67-92). London: Earthscan Publications.

UK Government. (2004). Sustainable development; the UK government’s veiw. Retrieved October 10, 2004, from government website: http://www.sustainable-development.gov.uk

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