Rapid urbanization, employment crisis and poverty in African LDCs:A new development strategy and aid policy
Rapid urbanization is a fact of live even in the least developed countries (LDCs) where the lion’s share of the population presently lives in rural areas and will continue to do so for decades to come. At the turn of the millennium 75% of the LDCs’ population still lived in rural areas and 71% of the LDCs’ labor force was involved in agriculture. But even though the largest share of their population lives in rural areas and directly or indirectly derives their livelihoods from agriculture, a rapidly increasing share of the population migrates to urban centers in search for employment opportunities outside agriculture in industrial enterprises or the services sector. The main purpose of this paper is to examine the causes and consequences -- in particular, the policy implications -- of the ongoing urbanization in the African LDCs. It is found that the employment opportunities in either rural or the urban sector are not growing adequately. This paper attempts to analyze the emerging trends and patterns of urbanization in the African LDCs within a dynamic dual-dual framework with a strong emphasis on rural-urban migration and the informal sectors. The analysis pinpoints, among other things, the need to build up productive capacities in order to create adequate employment and incomes for the rapidly growing population---particularly in the urban areas. The development of productive capacities, which is a precondition for the creation of productive employment opportunities, is a central element of viable poverty reduction strategy for Bangladesh as well. Without significant poverty reduction it is impossible to think of viable urbanization on the basis of sustainable development criteria in this group of very African countries. The donors, especially the OECD/ DAC countries, should provide the necessary financial backing for such a sustainable and equitable development strategy for Africa. It is necessary to reverse the trends in aid, and to provide a much larger share of aid for productive sector development, including the development of rural and urban areas, and the development of agricultural and non-agricultural sectors in line with the perspective of the dual-dual model. Although urban centers mostly host non-agricultural industries, sustainable urbanization also strongly depends on what happens in the agricultural sectors. Productive employment opportunities in rural areas are important in order to combat an unsustainable migration from rural areas to urban centers, and productive employment opportunities in urban centers are essential to absorb the rapidly increasing labor force in the non-agricultural sector.
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