A Critical Analysis of the Advantages and Disadvantages of Urbanization in Malawi

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A critical analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of urbanization in Malawi In Malawi urbanization is defined as a process whereby the functions of a rural settlement increasingly become oriented towards non-agricultural activities (United Nations Malawi, 2011). Malawi is rated as the fastest urbanizing country in the world with 20% of its population classified as urban and it is estimated that about 44% of the country’s population will be urban by 2015 (Gondwe, Feng & Ayenagbo, 2011). It is argued that urbanization causes changes in the livings conditions under which people live and work. Some of these changes are positive (advantages) while others are negative (disadvantages). The positive effects include; improving housing conditions and provision of enhanced amenities. The negative effects include; stress on amenities, congestion and urbanization of poverty (Kawonga, 1999). Therefore, this essay will briefly explain these using real and valid examples from Malawi. To begin with, provision of better amenities as an advantage of urbanization. It is said that increasing urbanization provides communities with social and cultural benefits as well as access to education and health services (Hammond, 1985). This is evident at Nkhorongo in Mzuzu near Luwinga Township. With the development of the area many services are now being located there. For example, Mzuzu Academy, Trust Academy, Good Samaritan Internet Café and some Tobacco grading Companies that provides jobs to the masses. Improving housing conditions is another advantage of urbanization. It is noted that urbanizations brings with it innovations in technology and modern ideas and ambitions in the people engulfed by what are said to be urban areas (UN Habitat report, 2010). To meet the demand for shelter by the ever increasing urban population, Habitat for Humanity and Malawi housing Corporation dedicates itself to building low cost but high standard houses for the less privileged urban population. For example, the Habitat for humanity houses in Luwinga Township and the Malawi Housing corporations houses in Katoto and Mchengautuba in Mzuzu. Lastly, the disadvantages of urbanization; stress on amenities is one of the disadvantages of urbanization. It is argued that in most areas the authority designs everything to serve the population of that time but due to increase in population as areas develop leads to people scramble over the few available facilities/services (UN Habitat report, 2010). The example is on power cuts and availability of tap water for few hours per day in the city of Lilongwe. The presence of large consumers of water and electricity at Kanengo put pressure on these two facilities as the providers try to regulate their quantity so as to sustain the production force of the manufacturing industries. This leaves areas around Kanengo with no electricity or water for many hours per day. Congestion of traffic and pedestrians is another disadvantage of urbanization. With the availability of valuable amenities in urban areas, people flock there to have access and benefit from them. This results in an increase in urban population which leads to congestion (Cohen, 2006). This is usually manifested during rush-hour commuting. There is an intense concentration of people in the center of urban areas during working hours. This strains transportation systems, because a large number of people and traffic must reach a small area at the same time in the morning and disperse at the same time at noon and in the evening (Rubenstein, 2005). This is more evident at Lilongwe old town, hyper junction near the game stores and Shoprite. There are longer queues of traffic and large number of pedestrians struggling to find their way out. Urbanization of poverty is another disadvantage of urbanization. It is argued that in Malawi, rapid urbanization is not associated with the commensurate of economic growth and effective redistributive measures required to alleviate poverty,...
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