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close this bookPerspectives on Urban-Rural Synergies - Report of a Colloquium (HABITAT, 1999, 92 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPreface
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentColloquium on Urban-Rural Synergies
View the documentAnnex 1: Panelist
View the documentAnnex 2: Organizing Committee of the Colloquium
View the documentAnnex 3: Colloquium on Urban-Rural Synergies
View the documentAnnex 4: Total Population and annual average population growth rates for urban and rural areas for the years 1995 to 2030.
View the documentAnnex 5: Final Summary Report - UNDP International Workshop on Rural-Urban Linkages Curitiba, Brazil, 10-13 March 1998

Colloquium on Urban-Rural Synergies

Introductory Remarks by Mr. Don Okpala
Excellencies, distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen,

The topic of discussion this afternoon is urban-rural-synergies. The discussion seeks to explore what is and what should be the relationship between the urban and rural areas. As outlined in the publicity circulated, this colloquium needs to examine the meaning of rural-urban interdependence and answer the questions: What should the rural-urban relationships be? Are the relationships synergies on linkages? What symbiotic contribution does one make to the other? What are the prospects of this relationship in an increasingly urbanizing and globalizing world? What are the cultural and environmental ramifications of urban-rural relationships? What are the challenges for public policy? What should be the direction of national development policy-making on urbanization and rural development? What strategies and instruments should be employed for such policy making and their implementation?

These are some of the issues that this colloquium seeks to address. What I have outlined are however, not exhaustive; they are just a sample of what needs to be addressed.

To guide us in this discussion, we have as our moderator, Mr. Wahome Mutahi (a.k.a "Whispers" of the Sunday Nation News Paper). He is otherwise known as the man from the slopes" (of Mr. Kenya.) I don't need to say too much about Mr. Mutahi because anybody who is familiar with the media in Kenya, knows him very well. He is going to be the moderator and I am going to leave ourselves in his hands.

Before I do, there are a few ground rules, which I may help him to spell out. The first is that it is for organizational purposes that we have these lead contributors who will have approximately 5 minutes each to stimulate the discussions. Then the floor will be open for anyone who wants to make inputs to the discussion. At the end of interventions from the floor, those of them leading the discussion will get one to two minutes again to make any supplementary points they would want to make or respond to the comments and questions from the floor. Then we would wrap-up the discussion.

With your permission, it is my pleasure to introduce the lead Panelists for today's discussion.

Mr. Adam Kowalewski, is from the Republic of Poland. He is the immediate past Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to Kenya and immediate past Permanent Representative of the Republic of Poland to UNCHS (Habitat). He is a City Planner by profession.

Ms. Sharon Lewis, is Assistant Director (Human Settlements Policy & Integration) Ministry of Housing of the Republic of South Africa.

Mr. Varsudevan Suresh, is Chairman and Managing Director Housing & Urban Development Corporation Limited of India.

Mr. Mark Cummins, is Chief Town Planner, Town & Country Planning Department (Barbados)

Professor Robert Obudho, is Director of the Centre for Urban Research, University of Nairobi, Kenya

Mr. Jonas Rabinovitch, is UNDP Focal Point & Manager of the UNDP Urban Development Team.

With this little house-keeping, may I now hand over to our moderator Mr. Wahome Mutahi to guide us through the discussions.

Moderator: Mr. Wahome Mutahi (Whispers)

Thank you, Mr. Okpala, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Mine is to undertake the task of facilitating this potentially controversial, but interesting debate within a time limit of less than two hours. I shall use the powers that has been vested on me to allow the panelists to take a maximum of 5 minutes. And that is very generous, because we need much more of the time to hear contributions from the floor. I am told, and I agree entirely that this debate deals rather with a very sensitive matter of life and death, because I think the whole issue of living in cities, particularly for us in developing countries is a matter of life and death and I think the deliberations that are going to take place here are going to have far-reaching impacts on what is going to happen to those of us living in both cities and rural areas of the third world.

Without further ado, may I invite Ms. Sharon Lewis to set the ball rolling

Ms. Sharon Lewis

Thank you very much Mr. Moderator. I am from the Department of Housing of Pretoria, South Africa. I am a town/regional planner within the Directorate of Human Settlements Policy and Integration. I speak from the perspective of a planner and from the perspective of the housing sector within a developing country.

I am going to talk less about the theory of the rural-urban debate and more about the implementation of policies and programmes in South Africa which have bearing on the debate. I have no intention of being controversial but I would like to outline some of the realities that we are facing at this point in South Africa's developments.

In South Africa, our primary aim is to meet the basic needs of all people. This is the premise on which the country's Reconstruction and Development Programme is based. The Reconstruction and Development Programme underpins all new government policies and programmes. As an example, our approach to the implementation of the Habitat Agenda is based on two twin policy guidelines - namely urban development framework and rural development framework. These were approved by South African Cabinet in September 1997 and these documents encapsulate the vision and principles of the Habitat Agenda into all national government's policies and programmes together in order to provide some guidelines on how to achieve the visions of Habitat Agenda in South Africa.

Clearly, South Africa has taken the rural-urban continuum view, with no particular bias towards urban or rural areas. As another illustration of this principle, the housing delivery programme in South Africa successfully delivered almost nine hundred thousand (900,000) units over a five year period. However we soon realized that, traditional tenure systems in rural areas were major constraints to accessing the housing subsidy in South Africa. So rural housing subsidy has been developed to overcome this. This subsidy allows beneficiaries to have at least five year tenure on communal or tribal land to qualify for housing subsidy. I must be very candid and say that the South African approach of providing for the broadest range of choices across all settlements types, really amounts to a short gun approach. We spread out resources as widely as possible and we hope to meet some of our targets.

After five years we are at a point where we can assess the impact of our policies and programmes. Problems are becoming evident and we are able to identify whether we have seen enough of our targets.

I am going to run through a few of these problems in the form of examples.

There has been a clear mismatch in Government investments in a number of cases. Investments in health, education and housing has not matched with each other and even infrastructural investments sometimes do not correspond with investment in social services e.g. some houses have been built some distance from bulkwood supplies. Some hospitals have been built in some areas with no economic base. At the local level, there has also been a lack of integrated planning. Many new housing projects have taken place in marginal locations on the peripheries of cities and towns. In general, in South Africa, the emphasis on delivery scale has resulted in some short-sighted investment decisions.

In response to some of these issues, a coordination and inter ministerial implementation unit has been set up within our deputy presidents office and it is leading a process to develop national guidelines to stir government planning and investment. Part of this process is the very comprehensive series of research projects, which have generated a tremendous amount of interesting results. And one of which has particular bearing on this debate.

Notice that urbanization in South Africa is inevitable, We have had a wave of urbanization in the 1980s, which stabilized during the 1990s, living us to a false sense of security. All indications are that we can expect new major waves of migration to cities that are being fueled largely by the impact of HIV/Aids on our population.

The most important point to come out of this process, is that all government departments agree, that we need to make some very tough decisions at this point in South Africa's Development. With the resource constraints facing South African, it is not possible to meet all basic needs at once. It is also now clear, that it may not be smart to meet the basic needs first. For example, use of cheap land for housing has resulted in marginal location of housing projects. So at this stage, with ground research and integrated planning, we really need to carefully balance our intention to meet all basic needs with creation of sustainable human settlements.

Thank you


Thank you, Sharon, for sticking to your time and giving us so much within that tune.

Mr. Adam Kowalewski,

Thank you Mr. Moderator,

Synergy and conflict are two sides of the same coin and, before we start to consume the great benefits of rural-urban synergy, we must solve - at least in the most crucial areas - urban-rural conflicts. We can to-day, present several examples of well-known conflicts, whose results are not properly addressed yet. I would like to start with some examples, to illustrate my view.

From the rural side we are watching two fundamental issues. The first source of conflict is uncontrolled migration to the cities as a result of poor living conditions, lack of prospects for the better life, high unemployment and so on. Consequently, migration destroys existing settlements and urban structures, not prepared for the inflow of millions of additional inhabitants.

The second source is the urbanization of once purely rural lands by the growing intensity of land use. We can watch this phenomenon in thousands of locations, mostly in poor areas. It creates very defective urban structures but also, usually, destroys good soils, forestry, contaminates water and creates unbearable environment. The planning vacuum and deficiency of land use control produce slums. All these materialize when local population, without possibilities for migration, through new subdivision and expansion of existing settlements, creates uncontrolled and defective urban structures.

From urban side the conflicts are also well known and eventful. First, it is an expansion of urban sphere at the costs of rural areas. This conflict is rooted in the very nature of a city, which from the beginning of our civilization was located with connection to good farming lands. Simply, the city could not develop without proper basis in agriculture. Therefore it was imminent, that further expansion of the cities, finally, had to demolish, in the majority of cases, the best soils. In my country, two biggest industrial districts in Warsaw and in Cracow agglomerations, were located, after the Second World War, on the best soils we ever had.

Second, is the pollution of open landscape, rural areas, waters and agricultural lands. These are costs of rapid urbanization, growth of the industry and transportation network, lack of properly controlled rural-urban relations, expansion of tourism especially at weekends. My fellow citizens in Warsaw, who by thousands are invading forests and parks around Warsaw, leaving behind totally devastated landscape, present a perfect example of the conflict. But, optimistically, the process of solving rural-urban conflicts brings us to the synergy stage. When we create a logical, functionally sound and controlled settlement system, both - urban and rural, we can properly solve the problem of environment; we improve functioning of the city and rural areas, reduce transportation and improve employment structure.

Finally, we start to earn the benefits of rural-urban relations. I can give you two examples from my professional practice, the positive and the negative. A lot of efforts have been made in Poland, in last decades; to create more balanced settlements system. And, however we cannot produce in Poland rice or coffee, nevertheless, through developing intensive agriculture economy in direct relation to the cities, we could supply more than 60 per-cent of our urban population demand in food products, from the adjacent areas. Creating logical models of urbanization, we can provide jobs and services, also for the rural areas, we reduce costs of transportation of goods, we reduce pollution and energy consumption and, finally, we prevent unwanted migrations. Next, we can earn many important benefits from rural-urban synergy.

Another example, which is negative is connected to the urban development policy of the Polish Capital, Warsaw. It shows how we destroy the synergy effect by our greed and by our lack of vision and professionalism. The approved physical development plans of the city established, in 1920, nearly eighty years ago, a system of so called ventilation 'corridors' -consisting of open, green areas. These corridors connect the centre of the city with surrounding farming lands and forests. Such system secures the good climate in the city, provides the citizens with excellent recreation areas located in 'corridors', reduce global intensity of the land use in the city centre. It also reduces transportation problems, since these recreation areas are within very easy access for the majority of Warsavians.

However, introduction of free market economy in my Country, in the nineties, brought enormous demand for vacant lands, especially in the central areas of the city. Now, the local government of Warsaw is selling all these green lands to the private investors, demolishing once logical and working model of agglomeration. It shows that even existing urban-rural links can be destroyed and synergies lost.

In conclusion, I must admit that it is nearly impossible to recommend anything new in our debate here. We know very well that we need better management of our lands, stronger civil society, more effective planning and development tools. We must introduce a very effective system of land use and development control; because to have only the planning vision is not enough. We need also the stronger economies on both sides -rural and urban and finally, we need better public participation and control. Then, we may start to enjoy the benefits of urban-rural synergy, which are important and numerous. Through proper rural-urban relations, we can create better environment and good living conditions; we can build stronger economy. We will reduce transport demands and improve the functioning of the city as well as rural areas. But the greatest progress will be possible in the sector of natural environment; factually, we cannot achieve global sustainability without a proper functioning rural-urban links and relations. In my opinion, we are already going in this direction and, hopefully, we will make better and continuous progress. These challenges make also the role of the Human Settlements Commission and the Habitat Center so important. We must accept the rule - that the beginning of producing the effects of synergy - is when we begin efforts at solving existing rural-urban conflicts. Therefore, I would like to recommend - do not be too enthusiastic about urban-rural synergies, before rural-urban conflicts are properly addressed.

Thank you very much.


Thank you Mr. Kowalewski for those insightful contributions. It is enlightening to note that rural-urban relationship is also a topical issue in Eastern Europe. May I now invite Mr. Varsudevan Suresh, of the Housing and Urban Development Corporation Ltd. (HUDCO) of India to give us his views on the topic.

Mr. Varsudevan Suresh

Mr. Chairman, fellow panelists, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be associated in this very important round table and dialogue on urban-rural synergies. It has come at a time when we have had a solid two and a half hours of discussion in Committee II, where the Ag. Executive Director himself was present as we were discussing the whole revitalization process and focus for the Habitat Centre. The specific points brought out by the Ag. Executive Director in a very passionate manner at the Committee II Session indicates the support that Habitat would be giving to sustainable human settlements - Sustainable human settlements both in the urban context and sustainable human settlements in the rural context.

After all, we have a blue book for us to act on, the Habitat Agenda. What is it saying? It talks of sustainable human settlement in the increasingly urbanizing world. So that particular acceptance of the sustainability of human settlements in the context of the growing urbanization is already enshrined in this our very important documents and in all our recommendations that are covered. Different parts of the world are showing different degrees of urbanization but all the same it clearly shows that in terms of demographic situation in the rural context as well as in the urban context, urbanization trend is increasing in most of the developing countries. In my own country India, we are going to a billion population mark, roughly one-sixth of the world population. Rural India is growing at about 1.8% per year and an average of about 2.2% at the urban level. That is the way population growth is taking place in our context over there, and if you really look into our own bible, (Habitat Agenda) the very clear words are "cities, towns and rural settlements are linked through the movements of goods, resources and people". Urban and rural-linkages are therefore of crucial importance for the sustainability of human settlements. It also talks of the way in which the population growth is taking place in the rural area but economic development is not able to catch up the same pace at which even the lower percentage of the rural growth is taking place. As a result of it, the rural push and the urban pull is driving enormous amounts of population of the rural areas through the migratory process into the city.

Therefore we've got to accept that the flow of human beings from rural settlements to urban settlements has come to stay and this is not necessarily negative. So when we talk in term of sustainable human settlements in an increasingly urbanizing world, we've got to highlight at the synergies between them. Let us try to look at the synergies one after another.

While rural settlements, having predominantly the soils for agricultural produce, the food and related inputs; urban settlements have been the result of the big shift from the agrarian economy to the industrial economy, as well as a result of the secondary and tertiary sector of development responding to the enormous amount of jobs created in the urban areas. At the same time there is symbiotic relationship between rural settlements and urban settlements in every country context over there.

Over a period of time what is happening is the creation of large sizes of settlements, be it towns, bigger cities, metropolitan areas or megalopolis etc. What is happening with the quality of life in these settlements? They start giving rise to transient new and satellite town developments around the parent cities and also linking with certain amounts of rural hinter-land development and even creating situations where what we may call "inter-rural and urban", there is a rural-urban continuum coming in large number of states and counties. In some parts of our country, India, we have coined a new word, namely "rurban", that is rural and urban put together as urban-urban indicating the face of the same. So what I am trying to say is that the continuum where the village coalesces, becomes little town, small villages, a few more small villages with local bodies etc coming in a big way. Primarily, it comes because it also puts in what we call decongestion action as part of the big cities from the point of development of small to medium towns. The question arises as to whether cities should be allowed to grow, grow and grow or whether we should put a certain limit over which if it grows, it's got to come down to the next smaller order of towns as well which are manageable, self contained small and medium towns with sustainable developments - a development process with rural hinterland solving the needs of urban components equally. The producers of food and related aspects which can, be it agricultural produce but also the cattle and various other types of inputs that are required to sustain the urban settlements with the linkages absolutely clear for the same. Therefore it is in this particular context when we look at it that we got to see that there is an established relationship between rural settlement and the urban settlements and when we talk in terms of sustainable human settlements, we keep in view our focus to a large extent with larger agenda for the trust areas in terms of urban settlements the rural settlements issues equally come into focus to us.

Since the chairman says I should not take more than one more minute, I would like to add one or two more points on these areas as supplements. The point that I wanted to add in this particular context is that we must therefore look at these developments, as one of our previous speakers rightly said rural and urban are two sides of the same coin. But when you look at the two sides of the same coin, there are two sides clearly, what we see as problems of rural human settlements and of urban human settlements, be it access to drinking water, sanitation, energy, transportation etc, at different capacities, we should understand them in their particular context. At the same time what we have to do in a spatial physical context, technological context, managerial and social economic context, we have got to see how this particular relationship can be harnessed.

In our Indian context, we are putting up 2 million additional housing projects each year for our human settlements and you will be surprised to find that half of this is urban housing programme and half is rural housing programme and there is a very good linkage for this particular programme. When I heard the assurance which the Ag. Executive Director (of UNCHS (Habitat) gave today at the Drafting Committee Session in the morning, I am fully reassured on the way UNCHS (Habitat) is giving the right focus, not only to urban human settlements aspects but also to the rural settlements aspects with the right level of symbiotic relationships. Thank you.

Mr. Moderator

Thank you very much Mr. Suresh for your contribution. May I now invite Mr. Mark Cummins who is the Chief Town Planner, Department of Town and Country Planning, Barbados, to give us the view from the Caribbean.

Mr. Mark Cummins (Barbados)

Thank you Chairman, fellow panelists, delegates, on behalf of the Barbados delegation it gives me great pleasure to sit as a panelist on this distinguished Round Table to discuss the issues of rural-urban synergies especially when we are told that by the year 2015, 55% of our population will be living in the urban areas. May be in the Caribbean we have already surpassed that 55%.

While I will address the Caribbean generally, my main focus will be on Jamaica and Barbados and that is an attempt to give you an example of a small Island, the Barbados and a larger Island Jamaica. As you may well know we are considered as small Island developing states, this came out of the sixth conference held back in Barbados in 1994. And I will just give you a brief background on the Caribbean.

Basically the region consists of English, Spanish, French and Dutch speaking people. It stretches from Cuba in the north and to Trinidad and Tobago in the South. Cuba is one of the larger islands and there are some islands which are less than 200 sq. miles. The town or urban area has always been central place of development in the Caribbean region. During the colonial period, the locations with good safe harbours, were developed into port cities because of the level of ship trade which prevailed at that time. The majority of these towns developed into capital cities and to day they are large mushrooming settlements. On the other hand, the rural area was the place where sugarcane was grown, and other food crops produced. These activities resulted in road net works which link the plantations to the towns. From the outset, there was evidence of strong urban-rural synergies in the Caribbean.

Over time some of these capital cities have been overtaken by urban sprawl, creating millionaire cities like Havana, Cuba, and Kingston, Jamaica. The majority of the Caribbean islands use the hierarchical system of planning and as I said to you earlier, I will focus on Barbados and Jamaica.

I now take a look at Barbados.

From the first development planning in the Barbados, there was an attempt to ensure that development took place in a manner which will reduce the push factor from the rural area to the urban area. That is, while there was a heavy focus on urban infrastructure and urban development, the rural villages which had the potentials were clearly identified. Development in rural area was always encouraged to take place in these growth areas. A pattern of rural development was to encourage employment opportunities. In so doing, it negated the need for persons who live in the rural area to move to the urban area in search of jobs, and we know that one of the major pull -factors of the urban areas are the jobs which are available in the urban areas or sometimes the perceived jobs which are available in the urban areas and the level of service. It must be said that Barbados is quite fortunate because of its small size of 170 sq. miles. But despite the great pull-factor which the urban areas possess, there has never been an exodus from rural to urban areas. However, there are reasons for this. Firstly the island has got transportation links therefore it is relatively easy to travel from the rural area in the morning for work and return in the evening. Secondly, the physical development planning process has always ensured that there is a concentration of employment opportunities within and on the fringe of the rural areas. This has worked well for it has prevented the mass move of workers from the rural area to the urban area.

Government has recently created two agencies, the Urban Development Commission and the Rural Development Commission to ensure that poverty alleviation is addressed at both the urban and the rural level. Again we know that the level of poverty experienced in the rural areas is another primary reason for persons who leave the rural areas for the urban areas in search of employment opportunities.

The Rural Development Commission is not only involved in infrastructural development but there is also a focus on creation of business enterprise within the rural areas. Again this is the deliberate policy attempt by the government to reduce the need for the rural dweller to venture to the urban area seeking for employment. These are but a few of the measures which we have adopted to ensure that development in the rural area keeps pace with that of the urban area. It also shows that thoughtful settlement planning can go a long way in ensuring that movement of persons from rural to urban areas is controlled.

I now take a look at the Jamaican experience

Jamaica practices a similar style settlement planning very similar to Barbados which is again basically the city, the regional urban centres and the rural villages. This form of planning in theory mitigates the need for the push factor from the rural area. Development is targeted at the areas in order to keep that balance between urban and rural areas.

Despite a solid settlements planning, Jamaica is faced with a major problem created by tourism, which is the major foreign exchange earner. That is, tourism has developed in the resort areas, and as a result a large number of people moved to the resort areas seeking employment and also provision of services. Now this creates a major problem in that the level of housing in the resort areas is inadequate, resulting in some form of squatter settlements development.

Since I have been told that I have only a minute remaining, I will attempt to summarize and give you some of the strong views we hold in the Caribbean as it relates to settlements planning.

We feel that the urban-rural relationships can be both synergies and linkages. The synergistic effect is best represented by the development of the island country which take place simultaneously. That the urban area should not have all the necessary infrastructure and amenities while the rural areas wallows in poverty. Such a situation is bound to generate a push from the rural area to the urban. The main challenge of rural-urban synergies for sustainable socio-economic development lies in sound settlement planning and the political will to ensure that physical development plans or comprehensive plans are used as the sole guides for development.

Of the three views which have held centre stage in the urban-rural synergy debate, namely: the pro-urban, the anti-urban, and the rural-urban continuum, we in the Caribbean have generally followed the rural-urban continuum strand as the main policy which has guided National Human Settlements Policy over the years.

Thank you.


Thank you Mr. Cummins for that Caribbean perspective. I now come home and invite Professor Robert Obudho, who is the Director of the Centre for Urban Research at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, and also Editor of the African Urban Quarterly. Professor Robert Obudho, you have the floor.

Professor Robert Obudho

Thank you Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen

I am not going to take a lot of your time because most of the things I intend to talk about have been talked about. Let me just remind you that copies of my paper are available.

It is entitled "Urban-rural linkages". Some of the things I have discussed in the paper have been about urban-rural synergies and here we are going to look at the pro-rural side, pro-urban side, and a combination of both. But with me I am talking on the urban side in which case whatever development takes place, I believe that it can take place very well from the urban side, so that's where I can differ with a lots of the other participants.

Now there exist a lot of rural-urban linkages and a lot of studies have been done to show this. Some of these linkages include the following:

1. there are economic linkages, which are very common, which take place between the rural area and the urban area.

2. there is also administrative linkages. This is very important, particularly in the development of urban centres, and most of these are common, particularly in Africa which in most cases were colonized with forces from outside.

3. Then there are also Socio-cultural linkages. These are also very important and I will discuss this in details.

4. The fourth are Political linkages: which are very common because politics really pervades all the things that people do.

5. The fifth are Service linkages. It takes place between the rural and the urban areas, and you know that the urban area cannot exist without the rural areas because they always say the urban areas take their worst things to the rural areas and of course we have democratic linkages and these are also very important.

6. The next ones are Environmental linkages and service linkages

Now, what are some of the advantages of rural-urban linkages. They are several:

1. New ideas, information, and better farming methods and agricultural innovations will reach people in the rural areas from the urban area.

2. Rural-urban linkages provide avenues and contributes further to the intertwining of rural population into the national economy.

3. Rural-urban linkages provide employment opportunities in off-farm activities.

4. Rural urban linkages create greater access of both rural and urban residents for public services and facilities.

5. Rural urban linkages enhance wider variety of consumer goods and commercial and personal services to be offered.

6. Rural urban linkages create avenues for stimulation of rural economies to growth, the spread effect of urban development which can transform what I call rural to urban centre migration pattern.

However there are also some disadvantages to this, in that sometimes the linkages are not beneficial and also some of the linkages are inadequate and limited in services, so that the rural areas or urban areas cannot benefit.

The activities of most urban centres especially the small urban centres are heavily focused on trade and servicing of the agricultural activities. In this case, sometimes they are more of appendages of rural economies than anything else.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The manufacturing and industrial bases of most urban centres are very weak especially in Africa. So to this extent they don't even benefit the rural areas. The availability of the infrastructural facilities in most of these urban centres are inadequate, further cubing the possibility of establishing what we call small scale-industry, to expand their economic base.

Another major factor that stands as a bottle-neck in rural-urban linkages is the exploitative nature of the linkages. In most cases, the linkages are usually exploitative in nature.

Ladies and gentlemen, without boring you too much, I am concluding by saying the following:

- rural-urban linkages would be enhanced through the development of small and intermediate urban centres. Small urban centres provide convenient locations for decentralizing public services thereby creating access for both urban and rural residents to public services and facilities. These centres act as regional marketing centres offering a wide variety of goods distribution and transfer, storage, blockage, credit, financial services through their regularly scheduled distributional markets. They create conditions that are conducive to commerce, and also increase agricultural productivity.

Lastly, these centres serve area-wide or regional centres of transportation and communication linking them with the rural areas so that urbanization can take place.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your patient attention.


Thank you Prof. Obudho for your presentation. Participants can pick the full paper at the end of the session.

May I now invite Mr. Jonas Rabinovitch, Manager of UNDP, Urban Development Team to give us his perspective on the subject.

Jonas Rabinovitch

Thank you Mr. Chairman, distinguished delegates, Dr. Toepfer, Senior colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

As you are aware, UNDP's mandates and priorities are poverty, environment, gender, livelihoods and governance. So for obvious reasons, we are very much interested in the issue of rural-urban relations. I would like to make three points for the sake of background and five points for defining perhaps the framework.

The first point I would like to make is that the relations or linkages or synergies that exist between rural and urban areas, they exist anyway in terms of the flow of people, capital, goods, information, and technology. They are there.

The second point, is that the topic of rural-urban relations has a long history in development theory and planning, although past approaches, such as integrated rural development has shown limited results.

The third point, given the situation in the past two decades, we have had a number of influencing factors happening at an amazing speed. The first one is urbanization trends. I am not going to repeat the statistics here. The second one is the improvement of the productivity in rural areas. The third point is the rise of governance, participatory approaches and the growing recognition of the social capital.

The fourth point, is overall globalization trends which highlight integration between rural and urban areas in terms of world-wide systems of production, contracting, finance, merchandising, and labour markets.

And last, but not least, the issue of gendered migration which happens in different regions of the world with different characteristics.

We have had a workshop held in Brazil last year on the issue of rural-urban relations. We were pleased to have a partnership with Habitat for the development of that workshop and also the government of the state of Paranah. The workshop was in Curitiba Brazil and there were five main conclusions of that workshop which I proposed to share with you.

The first one is that the issue of rural-urban relations add a crucial special dimension to key development issues. They add a special vision to development. So I need to remark that I am not talking about regional planning, I am talking about giving the current development agenda a physical interpretation but also a social one in combination.

The second point, is that importance of the localization of planning and management. We know very well that municipalities are defined in a way that the rural hinterland is excluded from their jurisdiction. So there is a need for the development of mechanisms that integrate jurisdictions, with physical reality.

The third point, is that traditionally speaking, rural has made agriculture; urban has made industry, although more recently we see a growing trend of non agricultural employment in rural areas and see a growing trend of urban agriculture. Urban areas might be becoming ruralized and rural areas might be becoming urbanized, which highlights the importance of excluding strict borders between them.

The fourth point, there is a need for more research, there is a need for balancing conceptual frameworks, but at the same time, this conceptual frame work should not be developed in abstract, without concrete project, without concrete approaches that could demonstrate this new conceptual frame-work, which should, of course, reflect the diversity of regions and countries.

An analysis should take into account the household as a unit, the issue of micro-credits, and micro-scale enterprises. We have seen a very interesting example in the State of Paranah of rural communities, in which people have twenty five years to pay for the land in a non-paternalistic way and whatever they produce they can sell in the near by town and it has government support.

The last point, we were encouraged by participants to reaffirm our commitments as stated in the Habitat Agenda, to the issue of the rural-urban linkages. And we in UNDP will engage, together with Habitat, other UN Agencies, we believe ILO may have a role to play, may be WHO will have a role to play, so would non-UN partners, and governments. We reaffirm our commitments to engage ourselves into this important issue.

I would like to conclude by informing participants that there is a copy of the summary report of that workshop, which I will be giving to the Secretariat and I hope copies could be made available to distinguished participants.

Thank you very much.


Thank you very, very much for your contribution and with that I think we have exhausted the contributions from our panelists. I would like now to open the discussion to the floor. After contributions from the floor in the form of comments or questions, we shall allow one to two minutes for the panelists to respond as relevant. I think we have less than one hour to do that. I can already see hands up. May I ask you to be as brief as possible in your contribution. You have a maximum of three minutes for each intervention, if you must take three minutes.

Delegate from Indonesia

Thank you very much Mr. Moderator. I am from Indonesia. I want to state our position that there should be linkage between urban and rural development.

It is indeed a great honor for me on behalf of the Indonesian delegation to have the opportunity to share our ideas in addressing this important issue, which most of our countries are facing; this is urban - rural synergy.

I would like to explain pertaining the Indonesian experience in urban and rural development, especially the scope of infrastructure development.

Entering the new millennium, we are facing a changing of paradigm in urban and rural development. This is caused by the emergence of new aspects of development such as globalization, decentralization, and national Spatial Plan that need to be accommodated in the urban as well as rural development area. Therefore the need to evaluate the implementation of human settlement development, including the development of urban infrastructure projects, which is carried out under the integrated urban infrastructure development program and rural infrastructure is necessary.

The evaluation is also needed due to the facts that the result of our development does not completely meet our target in achieving balance in conditions between the urban and the rural areas. Disparity in development conditions also occur among different areas in Indonesia, for instance, between eastern and western parts of Indonesia and between Java and areas outside of Java.

The development of urban areas in Indonesia started with the beginning of our first long-term development programme (1969-1994) which at that time was characterized by centralized, and top down approaches. This approach very often resulted in inefficiency of resources management due to a lot of unnecessary over-lapping, ineffectiveness due to little involvement of local government and lack of community participation. There are cases where the infrastructure development, which is carried out by the government, does not meet the demand priority of community.

Beginning from the 1980's, what was called "Integrated Urban Infrastructure Development Programme (IUIDP)" started to be applied. In this approach, the role of local government has increased significantly, starting from programme preparation, budgeting, implementation, and operation and maintenance. Local government must prepare a medium term program based on the city development scenario and the real demand of the community to whom the government has to serve. All sector departments of the central government must adjust their programmes to meet the local demand.

I have to admit that not all this IUIDP could run according to expectation. This was caused, by among others, the still strong influence of the sectoral departments of the central government and weak human resources of the Local Government. Dealing with the later problem, the central government always provides technical assistance.

In rural areas, Rural Housing and Human Settlement Development had also been started since the beginning of the first Long-term Development Programme. In the First Pelita (Pelita 1 = the First 5-year Development Plan) was started with the development of concepts and mechanism of implementation. During Pelita II and Pelita III, sectoral Departments of central government had allocated budget for physical plan implementation. Because of the strong sectoral ego, the results were efficiencies and ineffectiveness.

Starting from Pelita IV, the co-ordination among sectoral programmes was encouraged. This was marked by the establishment of a co-ordination forum in the central government as well as in the provincial government.

Entering the second long-term development, the development of the rural-housing and human settlement has been block granted to local government. The result was that the progress was very slow. This is very understandable because during the first period when the development was still being handled by the central government, the involvement of local governments and communities was very minor.

Similar to urban development, rural development must also be decentralized to local government and the community must be involved in all decision processes. By doing so, the spirit of development from, for and by community could become a reality.

Basically rural settlement can be classified into three categories, these are (1) Poor, left-behind, isolated villages; (2) Normal villages, and (3) Potential villages.

For the poor and isolated villages, the handling unit is based on the administrative boundary. This category of villages must be provided with the basic need of community, such as water supply, sanitation, and improvement of housing. So they can enjoy living in healthy environment. For the "normal" and "potential" categories, the handling unit is in the form of clusters. A potential village is clustered with the surrounding villages. The potential villages must be provided with infrastructure and facilities that can serve its hinterland like market, local terminal, health services, school, etc. The potential villages must also have access to the closest city. As I mentioned earlier, even though the development of urban and rural areas has been implemented simultaneously, optimal synergy has not been realized. Many parts of the country still lag well behind other areas, suffering from low incomes, few opportunity and poor access to essential services. Many inhabitants of these areas decide to migrate to urban areas which already experience rapid population growth, high rate of unemployment and difficulties in providing adequate infrastructure and shelter. Many regions lag behind because they are inadequately linked to the main stream to the rapidly expanding economy. To address this situation, future urban and rural development was directed to the formation of the national human settlements system through the implementation of the National Spatial Plan.

According to National Spatial Plan (NSP) for the whole of Indonesia, there are one hundred and eleven (111) strategic areas. It considered geographical condition, and potentials of natural, economic, and human resources aspects.

In every Strategic Area (SA), there will be centres of activity as City or Town which can function as a National Activities Centre (NAC), or Regional Activities Centre (RAC), and/or Local Activities Center (LAC). There are 514 centers which comprises of 18 NAC, around 83 as RAC and about 413 as LAC

As a hierarchy of centres, there are differences in services. LAC has a function to serve rural centres and villages in its surrounding hinterland. Therefore LAC would have facilities addressing its role as service centres for surrounding rural areas. Facilities must be able to accommodate, for instance agriculture and small agro-industry activities such as market, terminal, bank, and other social facilities. The same things also for RAC and NAC, where RAC will serve LAC's and NAC will serve RAC's and LAC's. These become concepts for National Development of Human Settlements, where hierarchy of cities beginning with National activities center, Regional activities center. Local activities center, potential villages and normal villages will form a National Human Settlements System, within which they can support and serve each other. In other words, by having this system of human settlement development, the synergy between urban and rural centres can be developed.

Thank you for your kind attention.


Thank you, Indonesia for your detailed contribution. It gives us deep insight into the perspectives and strategies of urban-rural linkages in Indonesia and the national policies and approaches thereon. Thank you again.

I now give the floor to the gentleman behind there. Please give your name and affiliation.

Mr. Tade Aina, (Ford Foundation, Eastern Africa Office)

Thank you very much Mr. Moderator, first I have two comments and just one question.

My first comment is that we should assume that human settlements are about people and that none of us come from countries where there are no poor people and I am interested in finding out from the panelists, what kind of synergies exist between the poor people of the urban areas and the poor people of the rural areas, particularly in terms of deprivations, lack of access to services, dominations and exclusions, participation and regional mobility, I think these are important issues.

The second question, that I think is interesting is to find out whether we are using the correct paradigms for understanding the relationship between urban and rural development. When we talk about the transformation of rural areas, do they remain rural after they have been transformed, or do they become sub-urban or some other kind of settlements type? I would like the panelists and others to help reflect on that particular question. Thank you very much.


Thank you. Dr. Aina

I think those are two questions not one. You should get a response in due time when we give the panelists a chance to respond.

I give the floor to Dr. Ahmed Taha Mohamad - representative of the Arab Urban Development Institute.

Dr. Ahmed Taha Mohamad

Thank you Mr. Chairman, the Arab Development Institute would like to share its experience in this rural-urban linkages debate. We have made one study about the case study of Sudan in which we are investigating poverty-migration structural relationships that might help us to answer the question Dr. Aina just raised. We went directly to the type of development policies being practiced by Sudan.

First it followed this dogma of international traders, hungry for goods and commercial pockets for export was done, the first thing is reflected in seasonal migration pattern from the traditional rural areas to traditional commercial cotton plantations. This process, of course, we all know the types of trade and specialization in raw materials impoverished the country and the concentration on the urban centre where these cotton plantations had to be processed through to be exported, has been developed to the neglect of those rural areas.

The next strategy which has come after that, is institutional programme which is another ten-year programme which is based on Omduman where a number of factories were based. That is when rural-urban migration per se, had began. This policy was capital-intensive oriented which created capital intensive status. What happened, of course is, that labour was artificially of low prices compared to the capital being subsidized.

The very dangerous issue which we have found getting along with this is that the price of the commodities produced by the industrial sector is marginal. This policy which is still prevailing in Sudan has no incentive for reducing the cost of industrialization. The higher the cost, the higher the margin and the percentage. And the actual fact is that the government is being impoverished because the concession given should have been a revenue to the government and the people who come to the urban area are impoverished and the rural areas as well are being neglected because the strategy was industrial-oriented.

Then came the rural-development strategy which is in practice in Sudan and several countries and which evades the issues, by shifting the burden to the rural areas and shifting the benefits to the urban areas. This created open famine in Sudan and several other countries by the 1980s. What happened was that the nature of migration as well was being changed from voluntary migration to displacement which is involuntary, which they blamed on drought and desertification but which in essence was man-made due to persistent wrong policies. Now we are facing this globalization and privatization phenomena. We turn to the essence of our experience. It is that migration trend has changed from rural to urban, from urban to urban and from small centres that have become dominant in the latest census of Sudan. Why? Because poverty has been enlarged and deepened. The only differential is between the small urban rich and the Khartoum rich. Then the issue is how to deal with it. Absolute poverty in towns increases and the rate of poverty in the rural area increases. It cannot be maintained from a certain sector, only it has to be embedded in our policies. That will reflect the wasteflow gradually from the big urban centres to small urban centres. This requires setting up of urban programmes linked to the rural peripheries.

Thank you very much Sir.


Thank you Dr. Ahmed Taha Mohamad for that perspective from the Sudan.

I would like to give the floor to Dr. Elijah Ndegwa (University of Nairobi)

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman

Two observations, one, we assumed that the combined impact of the urban and rural development processes ought to be higher than the individual contribution of the rural and urban development on their own. It does appear, Mr. Chairman, that we do not seem to have developed the know-how and the institutions that would facilitate equitable realization and enjoyment of that added value to the development process.

If I take the rural contribution just for discussion purposes, to be a factor of three in the developing countries and a factor of two for the urban areas, the sum is not five but six. In the developed countries, I take the rural areas factor to be one, the urban factor to be four and the sum is not five but six. The question, Mr. Chairman, therefore is, how best do we utilize and invest that added value that accrue so that without adversely affecting our environment, we can move to a position in the developing countries, where the value of "r", the rural areas will be less like it is less in the developed countries and therefore address the issue of paradigm that we are developing, whether when we have developed the rural areas, they still remain rural.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Thank you Dr. Ndegwa, for that rather philosophical perspective of urban-rural relationship.

May I now give the floor to Ambassador Charles Liburd.

Ambassador Liburd, you have the floor.

Ambassador Charles Liburd

Thank you Mr. Chairman

Mr. Chairman, I have been interested to hear the very rich contributions we have had from our panel. And I note a common thread which has been going through all the contributions except perhaps the one from the penultimate contribution from Kenya, that there is a strong interdependence between the rural and urban settlements areas. Then there is a contrary conception that is coming through from some quarters. There seems to be a perception, particularly among the industrialized countries of the west, that urbanization is not only inevitable but that it will at some stage completely eclipse the rural settlements and therefore that development should be concentrated on urban development in order to cater for the vast population that influx will inevitably bring about. Another perception conflicting with this and coming principally from developing countries, and particularly from those who have political responsibility for the welfare of the rural communities, where sometimes large percentages of their constituencies resides, some as high as 70% is that every effort must be made to reduce this migration from rural to urban so that we have some concentration of development within the rural area to slow down the process of migration. Now, both these contentions have validity and I think the challenge for us in the future must be how to reconcile these demands. We have to cope with the realization or the reality of the migration from the rural to the urban areas because of the greater services, education, entertainment, schools etc. that are offered in the urban communities and at the same time we must foster the contributions the rural communities have to make to sustainability of urban development and urban settlements. Now, how do we reconcile those two if we are going to denude the rural sector of its population and if activity and migration continues towards the urban settlements. I think this is a question that the panel could very well address. I wish we had more time, Mr. Chairman, but I think that is enough challenge for the time being.

Thank you so much.


Thank you Ambassador Liburd

We will have time to respond to that.

I give the floor to the gentleman over there, participant (unidentified)

Thank you Mr. Moderator

One quick comment. Picking up from an issue that was raised by a friend of mine there. Dr. Tade Aina from the Ford Foundation, that is the question of the institutional linkages between the rural and urban areas and more particularly their populations, which has been alluded to but which I don't think has been discussed at some length. When all is said and done, I think that one of the most important questions of why people do come to the urban areas is in search of empowerment. They see the urban areas as the centre of power, that's where resources are concentrated, that's where the glamour is, that's why they come. So if our argument is that the people must be retained in their rural areas, I am by no means sold to that argument but I am prepared to grant it for the sake of argument, then the question of empowerment in the rural areas arises. How do we do that? In Africa, we find all kinds of governments toying with all kinds of concepts about empowerment of the rural people, including all kinds of fancy paradigms on decentralization which at the end of the day, end up being a transfer of responsibilities without transfer of means or resources to handle those responsibilities. So the question of meaningful power, that is responsibilities with resources, is a very important question. And I think this discussion should address that question, otherwise we shall be talking in circles.

Thank you.

Moderator: Thank you

I give the floor the gentleman over there. Participant (unidentified)

Thank you Mr. Chairman, I would like to contribute to this debate between the urban and the rural areas and the synergies that goes on between them. I am most concerned about environmental management. What I see is that the urban areas, particularly in Africa are becoming ruralized. What I mean, is when you are in a rural area, the access to environmental products is free, access to land is free. People fell from anywhere in rural areas. In urban areas, the land is very precious, it is owned by the councils and what I see then is that people are becoming very rural in urban areas. That they can sell from any part of the city such that you then find those people who come from rural area into the city wanting to sell their produce now they want to stay a little longer in the city, now they have to create a space to stay in and they quickly bring up their structures which are makeshift structures, such that now we end up with almost half of the city now becoming very rural. Now, what they have to contend with is that the urban authorities can no longer provide the services that are supposed to be provided to those that are legally in the urban area. What we see then is a negative effect of rural habits coming into urban areas. Now, we have to agree from the start whether we are going to keep our urban areas urban and rural areas rural.

Thank you.


Thank you for that intervention. May I remind contributors to first give us their names and their affiliation before they make their contributions.

I give the floor to Mr. Badiane

Mr. Alioune Badiane (Habitat)

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mine are few short questions to the Panel. My first question is, Is there any settlements planning strategies that can help stop urbanization? I am not talking about diminishing urbanization but stop urbanization.

Secondly, if urbanization is a natural process, how could we balance it so as to ensure sustainable urban development? Thirdly, In this world of today, is it possible to consider rural without urban and urban without rural? Thank you.


Thank you Mr. Badiane for your questions. I give the floor to the colleague from Lesotho.

Participant from Lesotho

Thank you Mr. Chairman for giving me the floor.

Lesotho is no exception to the problems of urban explosion and attendant problems of scarcity of housing, the breakdown of institutions and environmental degradations. These tendencies underpin relationship between rural and urban areas. According to the recent Human Development Report, the human development index indicates that in Lesotho poverty remains to a large extent a rural phenomenon. In our previous intervention in the dialogue on divided cities, we did stress the danger of viewing the formal and informal delivery process simply as substitute. Similarly, the case of urban vis-a-vis rural development options is not simply one and not the other. The state of affairs underpins government's focus on emphasis on rural sector where the majority of the population lives in Lesotho. There may be many strategies and institutions to employ in this regard. Our fundamental study is that of the empowerment and capacity building of our rural communities. Efforts are being made to promote the following programmes in the rural sector.

One, the promotion of decentralization and establishment of democratic local governments, promotion of eco-tourism and information technology, establishment of social fund and rural development, provision of basic education especially for herders, promotion of environmental security, involvement of all stakeholders including the youth, through gender sensitive programmes. Mr. Chairman this is our modest contribution to this important dialogue. Thank you.


Thank you, Lesotho

Mr. Williams (Jamaican delegation) you have the floor.

Thank you, Moderator.

I just want to make a couple of observations and will ask questions at the end which hopefully will point us to a particular focus, which I think is at the core of this issue of urban and rural linkages.

There is no doubt at the future of human settlements. Future human settlements is an urban one. UNCHS' position in marketing itself as a city agency is a clear recognition of that fact. There is also no doubt that in most countries, under normal circumstances there is some form of linkage or linkages between rural and urban areas. Urbanization in and of itself, Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, is not necessarily a good thing and the reason for this is because the countries which are urbanizing especially at this particular time, are doing so simply because or significantly because population in these urban centres are growing rapidly or because people from the rural communities in large numbers are migrating to the urban centres. If however, the rate of population growth is faster than the rate of economic development, what then do we have? We have a significant problem where people live in a special defined area called an urban area and so we say urbanization is increasing. So the fact that people as defined by an urban area is growing, in that sense does not make urbanization a positive thing. If the rate of economic growth is growing slower, which in most developing countries is a fact that, than rate of population increase in the urban areas and in the country in general, then we have major problems in our urban centres which is not only in terms of poverty but all in all other social-economic situations that do exist in urban centres.

The question then to this body and to all of us as representatives of our countries, NGOs etc. is this what we want? I am sure our answer is no. Therefore we need to focus our attention, not only in this agency, also in countries and in any sphere or aspect, as to how then do we deal with the critical issue of ensuring that economic growth is taking place either at a faster rate or at a rate that is in balance or that will ensure that it is in tandem with the rate of urban development. And I think this is something, not only this agency, but all of us need to challenge or focus on.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.


Thank you Mr. Williams for those perspectives. May I now give the floor to the colleague over there.

Participant (from Ghana)

Thank you Chairman, I am from Ghana

My first question is who is a rural person? What we have in Ghana, in Accra, is large areas where people who have come from the rural areas procure makeshift accommodation and they use the place initially as entry port for rural commodities to be sold in the urban areas. They live there, they do everything there. Now at what stage do we call them urban people? Are they still rural people when they have stayed in the urban area for so long and they have contributed to the urban economy? So, back to my question, shall we at a certain point be able to say who is a rural person or who is an urban person notwithstanding where the person lives?

Thank you Mr. Moderator


Thank you, Ghana, for the comments and questions raised. Perhaps our lead Panelists will address the questions later. May I now give the floor to the gentleman over there.

Participant (from Lesotho)

Thank you Mr. Chairman, I am from Lesotho

I am directing this comment or question particularly to the panelist from South Africa. I would like enlightenment on the impact of the, opening of the political flood gates in 1994, particularly with regard to the question of the disparity in agricultural land ownership in that country. What has been the impact of this on the rural-urban migration, and if there are negative impacts, what actions are they taking to mitigate this?

Thank you very much.

Mr. Moderator

Thank you Lesotho. I am sure Sharon Lewis will respond to the question in due course. May I give the floor to the lady over there.

Elizabeth Amolo (Kenya)

Thank you Mr. Chairman for this opportunity. I am Elizabeth Amolo, from Kenya, I come from the slums. I have seen why the urban areas will always have rural extensions. Why? I come from a part of a slum which has been taken over by a joint project by German and Kenya Catholic Church. Initially it was said that the project would upgrade the slum and a kind of soft loan would be made available to the residents to buy the houses, but since then things have changed and the houses are now built in temporary forms. Tenants remain tenants and landlords have become tenants. The rooms are very small. Mr. Chairman, I am explaining why urban areas will always have rural extensions. The rooms are too small, I personally have two grown up children. I can't share that small room with them. I have to look for somewhere else where we can invade or invent and make new slum for my grown up children to get a separate house somewhere because we can't share a small room. If you don't know how small they are, I see some beds that are called double-beds, the rooms are that size. So tell me, are not these people going to make a slum extension somewhere else. We will always have those type of slums, my advice to the donor would be, look at the size of the family and I am worried eventually when I am allocated those small rooms, I am wondering where I am going to take some of my things because they will not fit in those rooms. So there would be donors. I know they are here, please consider the size of the family and make a room that will accommodate the family that is going to be transferred to the new rooms, if we don't intend to have rural in the urban.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.


Thank you Ms. Amolo. I think that is a contribution right from the heart. May I give the floor to the lady over there.

Lady Participant (from Ghana)

I am from Ghana, I want to contribute to today's debate on rural-urban migration. For most of African countries, this problem has been with us for a very long time. And coupled with other problems, governments are trying to find solutions. And in the presentations that had gone on, I think one solution that is coming from Africa is this issue of decentralization. Decentralization has been practiced in many African countries for sometime now. In some countries and I will use an example from Ghana, this has been practically followed with means, that is giving money to the districts to operate so that they will erase the deplorable conditions in the rural area. Will it be possible? I just want to find out that in looking for solutions for some of these problems that pertains to rural-urban migration, whether it is not right to look into or research into what has happened in some of these countries with the introduction of decentralization, whether the migration from rural area to urban areas have been curtailed. If not, is decentralization an antidote to some of the problems in the rural area or do we have to build on more processes to arrest the problems in the rural areas. Maybe yes, may be no, but unless we research into it and actually come out with indicators showing how successful or otherwise we have been, we may not find solutions. Thank you,


Thank you Ghana for the contribution. I shall allow two or three more interventions. Then I shall give back the floor to the lead panelists to respond to some of the issues raised throughout our discussions. I give the floor to the gentleman over there to my left.

Hon. Jembe Mwakalu (Assistant Minister, Ministry of Local Authorities, Republic of Kenya)

Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen, I represent the Kenyan perspectives in the Ministry of Local Authorities. And since we have a paper, we shall have it made available to the Secretariat. The paper highlights the inter-linkages between the rural and urban areas and also underscores the relationships in the duality of both areas as being symbiotic and that further policies and other considerations will be necessary for the development of that theme affecting the rural and urban habitat with respect to human settlements. Now, that paper will be made available to the general consumption of all of us.

However, what has emerged so far in my interpretation of what has been discussed is the human dimension of this problem. The urban person is increasingly governed by the matrix of time and material values. Such values are not inexhaustible and time is never ending. So the race is on. He is a human without humanism. The urban man, the modern man, the non-regional one, the non-native, because the native is in the rural area, he is indigenous there, and he is in alliance with nature. Urban man is in constant conflict and competition with nature. So this urban man is a human without humanism. His humanism is in material values. He is synthetic and artificial in the sense that having alienated himself from nature, this urban man is ever insecure, ever disabled, ever on the rush, ever stressed, ever careless and wasteful of resources and ever disaster-prone.

His urban landscape is replete with exploitiveness and self-alienation. My question is what policy and strategic formulations should be anticipated to address such collosal implications for humanity?


Thank you Honourable Mwakalu, for that philosophical contribution.

I give the floor to the gentleman over there.

Participant (Mr. Maleche, University of Nairobi).

I have enjoyed listening to the expressive opinion about the dichotomy of rural and urban development. Mr. Chairman I feel that the issue we are addressing is not an issue of choice between rural and urban. And I would like to take it that development is not inevitable, but it is a necessity and rural and urban development is also part of that process of development. And I would like to argue that rural and urban development is not or rather urbanization is not inevitable, it is not an issue of inevitability, it is a necessity and so if it is a necessity I would like to take the argument that one speaker made, that indeed when we talk about the rural and urban sector as a dichotomous situation of development, we are actually talking about two sides of the same coin. No one can use the coin without the other side, so I believe that just as we have asked the question whether we can ever do without urban areas, we could also ask the same question whether we can ever do without rural areas. I feel these are necessary facets or sectors of human development and I feel therefore the question of looking at them as synergies is very very important. We have stressed the issue of linkages and I would like to argue that in fact linkages that we talk about and the linkages that we have tended to establish through various policy measures should be seen as means to achieve the combined development process of these two very significant sectors of development. What I feel therefore is that from all we have addressed so far, I see one issue that emanate. We have addressed and mentioned various strategies/plans that we have in line. We have not addressed the means of making plans, we have not addressed the effectiveness of planning as a response to these development, situations as a combined system of development. I feel that many times, most countries have tended to address the issue of the development in either rural or urban areas by either addressing one dimension or facet of that development whether it is positive or negative and that tends to colour the nature of instruments that they apply. This leads to ineffective results. I would like to argue that, in fact what we need is to re-examine, re-evaluate our planning tools, planning effectiveness. I feel that we have not designed planning systems, planning methods, that are sufficiently responsive to this very dynamic, very complex system of development and change which are not supposed to be resolved by rigid solutions but rather flexible solutions that can be adaptive to this process of change. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.


Thank you

I invite the last question from that end

Participants (Mr. David Sanderson, U.K. Delegation)

Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for allowing me to squeeze in the final question. My name is David Sanderson, part of U.K. delegation. I just want to make two brief points related to rural-urban understandings.

Often, when we think of urban, we think about spatial or physical definitions, for example, an urban area has twenty thousand people and less than that doesn't. Well, that is probably not a very satisfactory understanding of urban, it is not a very helpful definition. Maybe more helpful way of seeing it is as one person quoted to say that an urban area is where people aren't farmers. Well, actually there is a semblance of a reliance on market economy. And that's quite helpful to understanding of urban because that means there is a linkage between rural areas and what we understand as cities or urban areas. And that has ramifications for programmes and interventions. The other thing to say is that, it is quite helpful to talk about rural areas and cities because cities are such big issue areas than rural areas and villages. The other thing I want to briefly mention is the understanding of cities to have ecological footprints. More and more people talk about this "ecological footprints of cities" - i.e outside the physical boundaries of cities, one finds impact of the city on adjoining rural areas and that may be by way of consumption of pollution caused by the city or where people are increasingly, moving from urban to rural areas, migrating out to grow and plant crop and moving back to the city. This phenomenon simply has consequences for urban-rural relationships.

Thank you.


Thank you Mr. Sanderson. I am persuaded to allow one more intervention from the gentleman there.

Participant: I am from Liberia, West Africa

Liberia, for the past several years, beginning from 1989 up to 1996, has been under conflict. We had election in 1997 which has restored some peace. The point I want to stress is this. This is particularly taken into consideration, the African concept with emphasis on Liberia. Urban-rural or rural-urban, what do we mean? Just as the previous speaker has said, we in Africa seem to neglect some of the responsibilities that we have towards our setting when we live the rural area to that of the urban area. For example, in Liberia, if I am from the largest tribe, Ekpele, if I went from the rural area to Monrovia and I am lucky to get a job that pays me good, I will tend to pay attention to the urban area where I am in Monrovia. The next point I want to make is in Africa or some African countries, planning has not been decentralized. We only focus our attention on the urban area, leaving whatever contribution the rural people make towards the assistance of the government. In short, I am saying rural people have often been neglected because we feel that most of us are in the city or urban area, we don't care for them. Now we are saying at this time, that it is proper that government begin to give good attention to rural areas, that planning be done jointly so that whatever is put in the urban area will also be put in the rural area.

Thank you Mr. Chairman for allowing Liberia to make a contributions.


Thank you very much Liberia and with that, we wish to end the contributions from the floor and invite responses from the panelists. But before they do so, I think I would like to make a summary of the overriding issues that have emerged from the floor and to which the panelists might want to respond to. I think that the most over-riding one both from the floor and from this table, is that there must be empowerment. That is, if there is going to be any growth in what we are calling human life in urban and rural areas, we must seek ways of empowerment that do not disadvantage either of the two areas. It has been asked, what strategies do we then take to empower the rural areas as well as the urban areas without bringing the conflicts that has been seen in the past? A question was also posed of how synergy can be created between the urban poor and rural poor. The issue was raised of these romantic programmes that we start which have no bearing at all on the problems of the people but Chairman, I would just like to make the point very briefly, that we shouldn't perhaps try to have an all-encompassing definition. UNDP has decided not to add to the variety of definitions already existing. We don't have our own definition of urban. We respect each definition that each country has for itself.

Thank you.


Thank you Mr. Rabinovitch

I invite Ms. Sharon Lewis to respond to that specific question on how South Africa responds to the political transformation that has taken place in that country as it relates to rural-urban linkages or relations.

Ms. Sharon Lewis (South Africa)

I need to answer two questions in one. The first is that yes, there is a way to stop urbanization. South Africa practised apartheid and went along with forced removals and "pass" laws, unsustainable decentralization policies and whole range of human rights abuses. South Africa is still living with that legacy and will have it with us for years and years to come. We have a number of idiosyncratic urban and rural problems like very highly populated rural areas and all of our policies, absolutely everything is geared toward redressing the imbalances that were created through apartheid.


Mr. Suresh, would you like to make a response.

Mr. Suresh

Mr. Chairman, on a few points, yes. On the first issue of empowerment and decentralization. Decentralization gives an opportunity for either urban settlements or rural settlements through municipalities or urban local bodies as well as village local bodies but then, as one of our delegates indicated, responsibilities without commensurate resources being made available does not really provide the type of impetus, but yes, that gives the people the right level of empowerment to decide on their own future, to take the developmental path and from that particular point of view, empowerment and decentralization are linked issues. But there is a nice question that came from Dr. Aina on the rural poor and the urban poor. Predominantly, it is the rural poor who are really pushed out of the rural areas because with increasing population, with economic development not able to keep up with the same increasing population, it is the rural poor who are pushed out into the urban areas and predominantly become the urban poor. Lately the issue is the size of rural poverty and urban poverty in large number of developing countries. In our own Indian context, it is of the order of 35%, rural poverty and 35% for urban poverty. So therefore, there is a link between the rural poor and the urban poor because the migration component predominantly is out of the rural push and the urban pull.

The next area which was asked about on the definitional aspect, we in India do this from the point of view of decennial survey which takes place once in 10 years in a national census to cover rural areas and urban areas. In this exercise, five components are covered (a) location (b) size in terms population (c) in terms of employment base (d) the character of development over there. One by one location in terms of the areas, in the tribal areas, in the hilly areas; in the coastal areas; size in terms of population of up to 2,500 is limited beyond which the urban component takes over, employment predominantly, agricultural based related industrial development and character of development, keeping social-cultural living habits put together. Many rural areas with some amount of economic development are growing in size to become urban areas over a period of time, for example in our own context, over 2,750 urban areas has now become 3,700. These additional cases predominantly arise from rural areas which have grown, and which have some economic development of certain nature become urban areas as well.

David Sanderson and some other participant asked about the environmental management and "ecological footprint" of urban areas and I think it is a very important question that has been raised. This has an important effect on rural-urban linkages, be it in terms of resources for making, for example, bricks or tiles or timber or whatever linkage between the rural and the urban areas. And therefore from the environmental point of view, what we can do for the integrated water management, for the rain water harvesting, aquifer recharging, waste water recycling, solid waste management, to be used for bio fertilizer which can go back from the urban into the rural areas for fertilizer and related food production activities leave ecological footprints in the adjoining rural areas. Would we like the same cities to grow or start developing small towns or satellite towns which can take care of all the flows coming under. It is not therefore only the rural to urban but also the urban to rural growth that are important phases of development.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.


Thank you Mr. Suresh. Mr. Cummins, you have the floor

Mr. Cummins (Barbados)

I just want to support the point earlier made by the Jamaican delegate, debate of Mr. Williams, on the issue of economic growth verses population growth. I think that this is central and pivotal to the whole debate on urban and rural synergies or linkages. Over time, any country which has a population growth rate that exceeds or outstrips the economic growth rate over any sustained period, that is almost the situation which is considered tailor-made for the significant push from the rural area to the urban area. So, there has to be some form of a nexus between economic growth and population growth. We, as planners, can devise the best physical development plan or comprehensive plan taking into consideration the simultaneous development of the urban area and the rural area. The political role may also be there for the implementation of those plans. However, if the population growth rate is not controlled when it is compared against the economic growth, then we will have major problems.

Another question was raised on the issue of rural poor and the urban poor. My suggestion or recommendation to this is that, yes, you will always have urban poor and rural poor. However, I think that the idea of developing the specific agencies or commissions to deal with the urban poor and the rural poor is the recommended way to go because in that way you have a specific agency which focuses on the particular needs of these groups. It makes no sense in not taking care of the needs of these groups because at the end of the day, both the urban poor and the rural poor are the most needy.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.


Thank you Mr. Cummins

Mr. Kowalewski, you have the floor.

Mr. Adam Kowalewski (Poland)

Thank you Mr. Chairman I have two comments, first to the honourable Minister from Kenya. You know in Cracow town in Poland, you can go to the whole town, you have like a dream - beautiful streets, smiling people, small restaurants! You can move half a kilometre, 2 kilometres from there and you are in a very shabby ugly space, in devastated area confronted with crimes, alcoholism, built with multi-storey ugly blocks, and all this in the same city. It means that the solution is not so easy. We can talk about this much longer but I don't want to do that here. It is a much more complex problem.

The second point. This discussion once more shows that we have a big gap in urban theories. I spent more than twenty years in urban planning and in research. It was good, modern stories had been created starting from the 19th Century to the last decades. If you examine the greenbelt towns, by Ebenezer Howard, satellite models, Milton towns, their planning career is always an empty backgrounds. In our civilization which created these theories, planning recognized industrial place of production of food not place for living, not place where 50, 60, or 70 per cent of the population would like to live. I agree with all those who said that we need much more knowledge because, now we have integration of urban and rural spheres but it is different models when you have rich country developed with small number of population and in different models than in the case of other countries. I agree with Mr. Rabinovitch that we need much more knowledge to have more realistic and fruitful discussion on this topic.

Thank you very much.


Thank you Mr. Kowalewski. I take the opportunity also to thank all our other lead Panelist - Ms. Sharon Lewis, Mr. Suresh, Mr. Mark Cummins, Mr. Rabinovitch, Professor Obudho, I thank all the participants for all their various contributions and I thank everyone for coming to this most exciting session on the very topical issue of urban-rural linkages.

May I now invite Mr. Okpala to make some closing remarks.

Mr. Okpala

Thank you Mr. Moderator, excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, I will be brief. First of all, let me convey the greetings and compliments of the Ag. Executive Director of UNCHS (Habitat), Dr. Klaus Toepfer who was here for the better part of the time. He requested that I give you this message: that he intentionally did not want to interrupt the flow of the discussions which he found very exciting and enlightening; that he was here to listen and expand his perspective of the topic because, earlier in the morning, he had been at the meeting of the drafting committee where this very issue took a better part of two hours. So he wished to hear a wider and possibly more varied perspectives on the issue. He says he had learnt a lot and was charmed by the discussion that was going on here, and felt that it would have been doing the session disservice to interrupt the discussion. You have his warmest greetings and compliments.

May I take the opportunity to thank the lead panelists for expounding on this issue and to thank you all for taking the time to participate in this very important colloquium, delegates, ladies and gentlemen. I am sure that some of the questions you raised may not have been fully addressed but the discussion continues, the learning continues. As we said, this issue is a very topical one in this session of the Commission and your expositions this afternoon have thrown more light on the issues. I believe that for the delegates who are involved in the drafting committee meetings, this discussion gives them a clearer picture of the issues that are involved and they are in a better position to deal with that particular agenda topic.

Last but by no means the least, I wish to thank Mr. Wahome Mutahi (Whispers), our moderator for so ably and fairly piloting this discussion to a successful end. We are deeply grateful to him.

On behalf of UNCHS (Habitat), I thank you all for participating and for your patience. I wish everyone a very good day.

Thank you.