Migration to urban areas intensifies pressure on the hinterlands
Globally, it is estimated that 450 million people will migrate from rural to urban areas by 2050. In recent years, there has been a growing acceptance that “environmental refugees” – populations forced to migrate due to the impacts of climate change – are a growing problem. Although there is great uncertainty, some estimate that between 100 and 250 million people (or higher) will be displaced before 2050.
Other factors also drive migration, e.g. land degradation, natural disasters and conflicts. Migration per se is a complex issue and for any given region various drivers can be involved, including economic, political, social, demographic and environmental conditions, all of which are linked in complex ways depending upon local conditions. Migration will be a significant factor on the African continent, which is rapidly changing. As throughout the rest of the world, Africa is experiencing rapid urbanisation: in fact, six of 10 counties with the highest rates of urbanisation in the world are in Africa.
To help cities cope with the challenges posed by such an influx (including disrupting local employment, provision of services and cultural impacts) rural development programmes are being developed in an attempt to make rural regions more attractive to youth.
A recent, detailed analysis of UN migration data from 2005 to 2010 depicts some remarkable features of the global migration system. Four major trends emerged (from):
- Migrants from sub-Saharan Africa (the vast majority of African migrants) moved predominantly within the continent. An estimated 665 000 migrants moved within Eastern Africa and 1 million people moved within Western Africa;
- Migrants from South Asia and South-East Asia tend to move to Western Asia, North America and (to a lesser degree) Europe. Migrants from Latin America move almost exclusively to North America and Southern Europe;
- Migration to and from Europe is characterised by a much more diverse set of flows to and from almost all other regions in the world;
- Although the largest flows occurred within or to neighbouring regions, numerous flows go through the centre of the circle, which indicates that long-distance flows are applicable to understanding the redistribution of populations to countries with higher income levels, whereas the return flows are negligible.