Rising rural-urban migration should be a foundation for strategic urban planning

An aerial view of Juba Town/Courtesy photo

By Milly Bayi Nyuga

The nation’s rising number in the urban population that is migrating from the rural areas is steady but frustrating the already scarce resources in town.

“In developing countries, urbanization usually occurs when people move from villages to settle in cities in hope of gaining a better standard of living,” Open Learn Create states.

The rural population has steadily moved to the capital, Juba but bringing with it challenges like rapid urban development, including slum prevention and regularization, depletion of the already scarce resource.

“Migration is influenced by economic growth and development and by technological change (Marshall et al., 2009) and possibly also by conflict and social disruption. It is driven by pull factors that attract people to urban areas and push factors that drive people away from the countryside”.

A case study by IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science in Juba indicate that people migrate for different reasons including search for basic amenities and emphasizes that this issue can only be stopped when the socio-economic imbalance is solved.

“Majority of migrants in Juba Metropolitan migrated in search of employment while others migrated to continue with their education while others migrated in search for basic amenities, to join relatives and get married.”

“This means, until the imbalance or disparity in socio-economic development between the rural and urban areas are removed, no amount of persuasion or force can put a stop to rural-urban migration and its’ multiplying effects in Juba”. The study report cites.

Although this is alarming, how can this scenario be used by the government to better benefit the nation’s citizens rather than it being a threat to these inadequate resources?

According to a report by UN habitat, there is need for large scale urban planning if the country has goals of developing someday.

“The country’s rapid urbanization, particularly its capital, Juba, calls for large scale urban planning and institutional capacity building of government institutions to be able to effectively plan and implement sustainable urban development initiatives in the country,” the report states.

 “South Sudan’s predominantly rural population has gradually been shifting to urban areas. Between 1972 and 2016 the proportion of the population living in urban areas increased from 8.6% to 18.8%”.

“The magnitude of urban growth poses many challenges, exacerbated by dilapidated/destroyed infrastructure and services resulting from decades of war and marginalization. Infrastructure development and provision of amenities necessary to support the livelihoods of the population have not been commensurate with the rise in the urban population.” The report also indicated.

Despite looking at the problems that accompany rural-urban migration, the government can use this issue as a blessing in disguise to effectively plan for better resource allocation and therefore development of the country.

The UN Habitat report also states; “national urban policy and physical planning for equitable development: This is to result in planned and sustainable urbanization to transform the lives of people in South Sudan; This is also in line with priority area (I) of the United Nations Country Framework (UNCF).”

This policy will support in the identification of urban development priorities towards socially and economically equitable and environmentally friendly urban and national development, guidance on the future development of the national urban system and its spatial configuration concretized through national and regional spatial plans for territorial development.

“Better coordination and guidance of actions by national actors, as well as lower levels of government in all sectors; increased and more coordinated private and public investments in urban development and consequent improvement of cities’ productivity, inclusiveness and environmental conditions,” the report indicated.

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