oa Africa Insight - Towards balanced development in Southern and East Africa

Volume 9, Issue 3-4
  • ISSN : 0256-2804



During the decade of the 1970s the world balance of city dwellers will for the first time in modern history swing from Europe and North America towards the less-developed continents of the Third World. In view of this general trend most developing countries are facing unprecedented rates of migration from rural to urban areas, as well as rates of urban population growth far in excess of average national growth rates. Yet the fact remains that the vast majority of people in developing countries are still rural dwellers and that it is here that the central problem of poverty in the Third World mainly lies. A number of writers have drawn attention to this dilemma. Lipton states that ""the poor countries have enjoyed more development in the last two decades than in the previous two millennia. Yet hardly any impact has been made on the heartland of mass poverty. The rural masses are as hungry and as ill-housed as ever."" Chenery refers to the basic fact that the poor are disproportionately located in the rural areas. Seidman has drawn attention to the rapid growth of the ""export enclaves"" in many developing countries while the poverty of the masses in rural areas continues. Soja states that there is perhaps a greater concentration of economic wealth and political power in the primate cities of Africa relative to the remainder of their national territories than in any other equivalent region in the world.

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