Cover Image
close this bookPopulation, Employment and Income (FAO)
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentAims/objectives
View the documentBasic concepts
View the documentActivity no. 1 - What I will do as an adult
View the documentActivity no. 2 - What is my community like?
View the documentActivity no. 3 - What can we do to improve our standard of living?

Activity no. 2 - What is my community like?

What is my community like?

An activity designed to provoke a discussion about the issues of rural-to-urban migration.



Note: It is very important that group members identify for themselves what they see as the advantages and disadvantages of rural and urban life. The leader should not simply copy the chart from the background information. Of course, the leader is expected to suggest ideas that are not brought up by group members to ensure a complete chart. It may also be necessary for the leader to correct mistaken ideas.

· The participants are each given a piece of paper and a pencil (or any available writing materials).

· The leader lists the basic elements of a community: population size, land area, work opportunities, education, health, food, recreation, housing, etc.

· Each participant analyses his/her community according to these elements.

· A volunteer is asked to describe his/her village. Other group members participate by adding to the description or describing how their village/community varies if they are from another village. It is important to involve all the group members in the discussions.

· The group then discuss the advantages and disadvantages of living in rural and urban areas and the leader notes them on a chart.

· The leader can help to get the discussion started by asking some of the questions on page 23.


So that the group members will be able to:

· Identify the reasons people migrate from rural to urban areas.

· Discuss and analyse the advantages and disadvantages of migration, especially related to population and employment issues.

· Make informed decisions for themselves.



· A piece of paper to draw on and something to write with for each group member.

· A large piece of paper or a chalkboard for the group leader to use to make the chart of advantages and disadvantages of urban and rural life.

· The background information on the following pages.

Some background information for the group leader

How is migration affecting African life?

In most African countries the population of the cities is growing much faster than that of the rural areas. A part of this is due to rural-to-urban migration. That is rural people (especially young people) who leave their homes in the villages to try to find a better life in the cities.

Many different factors may contribute to the decision to migrate, but almost always the basic reason is that people cannot find adequate employment and income in the rural areas and are looking for a place where they will have a chance to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Often, young people believe that they will find better jobs and better living conditions in the cities. Unfortunately, most of them do not have the skills or qualifications needed to find city work. As a result, they are often worse off in the cities than they were in their homes in the rural areas.

Nonetheless, rural-to-urban migration continues, with the result that in many areas, urban populations are increasing very quickly. This may lead to overcrowded and even dangerous living conditions.

Migration may also serve to hide a population problem in a rural area. If many people move out of a village, it may appear that there is no population problem, even though many more people are being born than are dying. But when these people leave the rural areas, they do not just disappear. They go to the cities where they add to the demand for services.

What should people consider when deciding whether to migrate or not?

What should people consider when deciding whether to migrate or not?

Migration is a major life change and should be carefully considered before a decision is made. A decision based on poor information or false hopes can lead to an unhappy and unproductive lifestyle.

When considering migration, a young person first should discuss the idea with members of his or her family and community to be sure that local opportunities for employment and personal development are not being overlooked.

They should also think about what the short-term and long-term effects will be on their lifestyle. For example, if they decide to move to an urban area, where will they live? And do they have enough money to support themselves until they find a job?

If they find a job, what will their life be like in the city? Will they enjoy this environment or will they miss the rural area where life was quieter and more easy-going?

Perhaps it would be a good idea to visit the city for a short period to decide if they are making the right choice.

Another important factor to consider is the loss of family and friends who provide companionship, advice and support. A decision to migrate means that youth will have to depend completely upon themselves.

Migration is not necessarily wrong. For some people, a move from the rural areas to the city may be a good decision. But for many others, it may be better to remain in the rural areas, where they are culturally at home.

One possibility to consider is migration to another rural area or to a semi-urban area, rather than to the biggest city in the country. In smaller towns which are developing, there may he more opportunities than in the overcrowded large cities.

Rural Life

Potential advantages

Potential advantages

Rural lifestyle is more comfortable and pleasant.

In the rural areas, you have family and the village to help and support you.

As an agricultural producer, you can make a positive contribution toward your country's development.

A farmer is more likely to be able to improve his life by developing new land or obtaining loans for inputs than by beginning again in the city where life is hard and different.

There may be other agriculture related or non-agricultural employment opportunities in the rural areas.

Potential disadvantages

Potential disadvantages

There is sometimes not enough farmland for the number of people. Often, other inputs are also lacking such as fertilizer, improved seed and credit.

If a person does not want to be or cannot be a farmer, there may not be adequate training or non-farm work opportunities in the rural areas.

Educational and health facilities may be lacking. There may be no electricity or running water. There may not be opportunities for recreation.

Urban Life

Potential advantages

Potential advantages

Life in the city is more modern and exciting - there is more to do and life seems faster.

In the city, there are opportunities for both part-time and full-time employment.

Educational opportunities for children tend to be better.

More modern products are available in the cities.

Modern services and entertainments may be more common.

Potential disadvantages

Potential disadvantages

If you move to the city, you leave behind your family and friends and have only yourself to depend on.

The cost of living is very high in the city.

Many times, life in the city is more crowded and less healthy than in the country.

The services in the cities were not planned to serve so many people.

Employment opportunities in the cities may be available only to those with good qualifications.

In the big cities there is a lot of crime and theft. You can be afraid to go out of your house at night.

Some questions to start off the discussion

1. Where would you like to live if you have the choice?
2. What are the good things about life in your community?
3. What things are not so good about rural life?
4. What are the good things about life in the cities? What are the bad things?
5. What are some of the reasons people move to the city or stay in the rural areas?
6. Do you know someone who moved to the city without really considering all the possible effects? Are they happy?
7. What are some of the things to consider when deciding whether to live in a rural or an urban area?