Urbanization and land use conversions patterns

Urbanization and land use conversions patterns




This chapter comprises of reviewed relevant literature on urbanization and land use conversions patterns focusing on trends, concepts, process, and effects of urbanization, factors that influence land use conversions and responses of planning to urbanization. The chapter also includes gaps identified from previous research.

Global trends of urbanization, urban sprawl, and expansion

The face of the world is changing more rapidly now than at any time in history. The trend primarily responsible for transformation is the rapid growth of the world population. People are moving into cities at a rate not seen since the industrial revolution filled the cities of the developed world more than a century ago (UN-HABITAT, 2006). In 2000, world population reached 6.1 billion. Currently, about half of the world’s population is urbanized, and this is expected to increase to 80-90 % in forty years, growing at an annual rate of 1.2 %, and it is projected to reach 8 billion by 2030.

Urbanization is expected to continue rising in both the developed and the less developed regions so that, by 2050, urban dwellers will likely account for 86 % of the population in the developed areas and for 66% of that in the less developed areas. According to the expected result, 64.7% population in Asia and 61.6% population in Africa will have settled in urban regions by 2050.Similarly, 90.1% in North America, 88.8% in Latin America and the Caribbean, 84.3% in Europe and 74.8% population in Oceania are expected to be urban by 2050 (UNDESA, 2010; UN, 2009).

Today, the largest and fastest-growing cities are in developing countries of Africa, Asia, Central, and South America. Regarding future trends, 93 % of urban growth would occur in Asia and Africa and to a lesser extent in Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-HABITAT, 2006). Currently, Africa is the least urbanized region and has the highest urban population growth in the world, at an average annual rate of 3.5% for the period 2005-2010 (ESCAP, 2011). Despite the decline in population growth rates since the mid-1980s, Africa remains the world’s fastest-growing region at an estimated rate of 2.4 % per annum. Although future growth rates are expected to be lower, the area will attain an estimated population of 1.4 billion by the year 2030 (UNDP, 2002).

Urban population in Africa is expected to grow at 3 % per annum over the next two decades. These rates will, however, be six times the projected rate for industrialized countries. The scale and dynamic of growth behind the process of urbanization in developing countries are without any historical precedent. Hence, cities in developing countries are now accommodating more people than cities in industrialized nations during their most significant period of expansion.

Urbanization, urban sprawl and expansion trends in Kenya

Kenya’s Concept Paper on National Spatial Plan (2010) notes that Kenya’s population is quickly urbanizing, estimated that about 50 % of the total population would live in urban areas by the year 2050. Urban areas are already showing strain resulting from high population growths that are not commensurate with infrastructure, service provision, and employment creation. Nearly all Kenyan towns experience severe urban sprawl, poverty, informality, and environmental deterioration, among other negative attributes. In the last 30-40 years, Nairobi has experienced tremendous growth with an average population annual growth rate of 4.7-4.8% (KNBS, 2009). This population growth rate is high in comparison to Kenya average national growth of 3.4% per annum. The Nairobi city population increased from about 0.8 million in 1989 to 2.1million in 1999 and to 3.5 million in 2009 as seen in the table below.

Table 2.1 Nairobi versus Kenya Population size trends

Year 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010
Nairobi 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 3.0 3.1 3.3 3.6
Kenya 30.4 31.3 32.2 33.2 34.2 35.1 36.1 37.2 38.8 39.4 40.4

Source: Data provided by KNBS, (2009)

Urbanization and urban sprawl

Urbanization is a form of urban growth that is a response to often less understoodimplications of technological, economic, social, and political forces and the physical geography of an area (Sudhira, 2008). Further, he observed that the significant economic and livelihood opportunities provided in the urban areas result in an expansion for accommodating the immigrants resulting in greater urbanization. Urbanization, in this context then viewed not as a threat to the environment and development but the unplanned urbanization and dynamic urban growth, or the sprawl that affects the land-use of any region that becomes a matter of concern through its affectation in the loss of prime agricultural lands. It is thus imperative to study and bring out the intricacies and implications associated with the problem of unplanned urban growth ensuing into sprawl.

Asamoah, (2010) notes that the unplanned expansion of cities and encroachment by people for various purposes also has contributed to land use changes more so, towards the urban fringes. Towns and cities are expanding in individual pockets with a change in the land-use along the highways and near the cities due to ad hoc approaches in regional planning, governance, and decision-making. This dispersed development outside small urban and rural centers that is along highways and in rural countryside referred to as sprawl. Sprawl generally relates to some development with impacts such as losses of agricultural lands, open spaces, and ecologically sensitive habitat s in and around the urban areas (Mishra et al., 2011).

These regions lack essential amenities due to the unplanned growth and lack of prior information and forecasts of such growth during policy, planning, and decision-making. According to UNCED (1992), lackof prior planning, coordinated decision-making, and visualization of the outgrowths, the regions remain to l amenities like water, electricity, sanitation, and result in inefficient and drastic changes in land-use, affecting the ecosystem and thus threatening the sustainable development of the region.

Urbanization and peri-urban agriculture in Kenya

Peri-urban agriculture has a significant role in food and nutrition security in most low-income nations (Lee-Smith, 2010). Rapid urbanization threatens agriculture, which is the primary source of livelihood of peri-urban dwellers, resulting in problems of land scarcity for agricultural purposes. Thus, the allocation of agricultural land for residential development has resulted in a reduction in the quantity (size) and quality of so. Farmers are, therefore, often left with little or no land to cultivate and this renders them vulnerable. The peri-urban interface of most urban areas, which show characteristics of both rural and a few urban life is, in most cases the agricultural hub of the urbanites and supply’s most of their food requirements.

The agriculture sector in Kenya is the fundamental part of the economy contributing 25% of the total Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and another 27% indirectly. The sector employs over 40% of the total population and over 70% of the rural people and provides livelihood (employment, income, and food security needs) for more than 80% of the Kenyan population (Food and Agriculture Policy Decision Analysis, 2012). Kiambu County is one of the high potential agricultural areas in Kenya with nearly 70% of the population engaged in agriculture. However, rapid urbanization experienced in the area has attracted many people from the neighboring towns and from the rural regions resulting to the clearing ofagricultural land to pave the way for urban developments (Musa and Odera, 2014). As Naab (2012) notes, urbanization has therefore led to the inaccessibility of land, land fragmentation, loss of land fertility among many others. This does not create a favorable environment for the development of agriculture.

Effects of urban sprawl on agricultural activities

According to Cooney (2008), when sprawl takes place at the periphery of a particular locality, it has a direct or indirect impact on other parts of the same location within its border or a neighboring community. The consequences of rapid urbanization on peri-urban areas include changing labor and market conditions, loss of farmlands, changes in social, cultural and lifestyles. Planning and development control becomes a problem where existing institutions are not adequately structured to handle consequences of urbanization and which cut across different administrative boundaries leading to land issues not being addressed or, at worst, leading to conflicting land use planning decision (Thuo, 2013).

The rapid urban expansion in developing countries is usually associated with unplanned development in the periphery that requires a high cost of infrastructure. It is also evident that even in planned activity the development of infrastructure often does not correspond to the large tract of land that develops in a low-density pattern. Thus, urban expansion consequently results in social, environmental and economic problems to the society (Abdissa, 2005).

Due to their spatial proximity to urban areas, agricultural lands are the first ones affected adversely from the urban sprawl. In Europe, the cities have primarilyexpanded to the former agricultural lands in recent years. For example, throughout the Mediterranean region, 3% of farmland was lost to urbanization in the 1990s, and 60% of this land was prime farmland (EEA, 2006). Turkey has also been subject to land transformations into urban–industrial land uses, especially with the loss of fertile agricultural lands to urbanization (Doygunet al., 2008).

Urbanization threatens food supply drawing from the fact that, as cities grow, they affect agricultural land because it expands into surrounding areas of agriculture and this dramatically changes food production. An immediate consequence of rapid urbanization is the crowding out of agriculture land, and the reduction of agricultural capacity (Kim et al., 2003). Cohen and Garrett (2009) observed that there is a shift in employment within the food system, with fewer people working in agriculture and more working in transport, wholesaling, retailing, food processing and vending due to the need to meet the higher demand for processed agricultural products. The increase of urban encroachment onto farmland has “forced farmers to bring lower quality land under cultivation to meet the growing demand for agricultural products” (Statistics Canada, 2005b). Steady, long-term production is generally unsustainable on lower-quality land (ibid). Once farmland is bought, farmers cannot just merely move their farms farther away from urban areas and continue their livelihood (Cooney, 2008).

Urban centers often expand over their nations’ most productive agricultural land since most urban centers grew there precisely because of highly fertile soils (Satterthwaite et al., 2010). An immediate consequence to this is the threatened food supply drawing from the fact that, as urbanization grows, it affects agriculture land because it expands into surrounding areas of agriculture and this dramatically affects food production with an impact on food security. According to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), food security is defined as a solution that “exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meettheir dietary needs and food preference for an active and healthy life (FAO, 1996). Food security encompasses the four dimensions, availability, stability, safety, and access.

Urban sprawl generally affects these four dimensions of food security in the sense that as the population continues to grow and urbanize, the demand for food rises; rural and peri-urban area are required to cater for the rising food demand. Matuschkle, (2009) observes that sprawling cities may hinder the ability to meet new demand patterns due to the expansion of towns on prime agricultural land being converted into residential, commercial and industrial uses leading to the crowding out of peri-urban agriculture, which often plays a significant role in supplying perishable foodstuffs to cities (FAO, 2008). This threatens food availability of every developing city. As the cities and towns continue to expand more and more food will be required for the urban areas, putting additional pressure on rural infrastructures, transport, technologies, and food distribution, which are already insufficient further jeopardizing the stability of food supply (FAO, 2008).

Factors influencing land use conversions in peri-urban areas.

Many researchers and scholars (EPA, 1999; Allen and Barrel, 1985; Lambin et al., 2006; Chrysoulakis et al., 2004; Baulies and Szejwach, 1998) have explained proximate and underlying causes of land use change to understand the land use decision-making process. Proximate causes of land use change involve a direct and immediate physical action on land cover at the local level such as individual farms, households, or communities (Lambin et al., 2006; Ojima et al., 1994). The underlying causes of land use change are the fundamental forces that alter one ormore proximate causes and operate at a regional or even global level (Lambin et al., 2006). Some of the identified most commonly used fundamental forces are technological, economic growth, political, institutional, demographic and cultural (Geist et al., 2006).

According to Kiita (2013), the five factors likely to cause land use change include under resource scarcity, natural population growth and division of land parcels may be a cause of slow land use change, while a decrease in land availability due to encroachment by other land uses may be a cause of quick change. Changing opportunities created by markets, especially the improvement in accessibility through road construction (such as Thika Super Highway) may be another common cause of land use change.

Outside policy intervention, especially poor governance and corruption and rapid change in policy may be another cause of land use change (Mundia and Aniya, 2005). Perhaps the most notable cause of land use change in Kenya may be changed in social organization, in resource access and attitudes occasioned by changes in institutions governing access to resources by different land managers; growth of urban aspirations; growth of individualism and materialism and lack of public education and poor information flow on the environment. However, it is essential to carry out research to determine the exactcauses of land use conversions in a particular area before making generalizations. and assumptions. In Nairobi, the main drivers influencing land use change in the rural-urban fringe include housing and land market failure, population increase, weak and different institutional regulations, social-cultural and economic drivers (Thuo, 2013).

Proximate Versus Underlying Causes

Land use is defined by the purposes for which humans exploit the land resources. There ishigh variability in time and space in biophysical environments, socioeconomic activities, andcultural contexts that are associated with land-use change. Identifying the causes of land-usechange requires an understanding of how people make land-use decisions and how variousfactors interact in specific contexts to influence decision making on land use. Decisionmaking is influenced by factors at the local, regional, or global scale. Proximate (or direct)causes of land-use change constitute human activities or immediate actions that originatefrom intended land use and directly affect land resources (Ojima et al., 1994). They involve aphysical operation on land resources. Proximate causes generally operate at the local level(individual farms, households, or communities). By contrast, underlying causes may originatefrom the regional (districts, provinces, or country) or even global levels, with complexinterplays between levels of the organization. Underlying (or indirect or root) causes arefundamental forces that underpin the more proximate causes of land-use change. Theyoperate more diffusely (i.e., from a distance), often by altering one or more proximate causes (Leemans et al. 2003). Underlying causes are formed by a complex of social, political,economic, demographic, technological, cultural, and biophysical variables that constituteinitial conditions in the human-environment relations and are structural (or systemic) innature. Underlying causes are often exogenous to the local communities managing land andare thus uncontrollable by these communities (Geist et al. 2002, Ledec 1985 and Contreras 2000).

  1. a) Natural Variability

Natural environmental changes interact with the human decision making processes that causeland-use change. Highly variable ecosystem conditions driven by climatic variations amplifythe pressures arising from high demands on land resources, especially under resource-limitingconditions, such as dry to sub-humid climatic conditions. Though natural and socioeconomicchanges may operate independently, natural variability may also lead to socio-economicunsustainability, for example when unusually wet conditions alter the perception of droughtrisks and generate overstocking on rangelands. When drier conditions return, livestockmanagement practices are ill adapted and cause land degradation. Land-use change, such ascropland expansion in drylands, may also increase the vulnerability of human-environmentsystems to climatic fluctuations and thereby trigger land degradation (Puigdef´abregas, 1998).

  1. b) Economic and Technological Factors

Economic factors and policies influence land use decision making by altering prices, taxes,and subsidies on land use inputs and products, changing the costs of production andtransportation, and by altering capital flows and investments, credit access, trade, andtechnology. The unequal distribution of wealth between households, countries, and regionsalso determines who can develop, use, and profit from new technologies that increaseprofits from land management, such as the adoption of mechanized large scale agriculture(Lambin et al. 2001). Institutional factors increasingly mediate economic changes,markets, and policies, such as agricultural subsidies, that are influenced by global factorsdriving a trend toward intensive commercial agriculture and away from subsistence croplands.

For example, giving farmers better access to credit and markets (by road building and other

infrastructure changes), combined with improved agricultural technology and secure landtenure can encourage forest conversion to cropland. Depending on how the new technologiesaffect labor markets and migration, whether the crops are sold locally or globally, howprofitable farming is at the forest frontier, and the capital and labor intensity of the newtechnologies (Barbier, 1997)

  1. c) Demographic Factors

Both increases and decreases in local populations have large impacts on land use.Demographic changes include not only shifts in fertility and mortality (e.g., the demographictransition), but also changes in household structure and dynamics, including laboravailability, migration, urbanization, and the breakdown of extended families into multiplenuclear families. Migration is the single most important demographic factor causing rapidland-use changes and interacts with government policies, changes in consumption patterns,economic integration, and globalization. The growth of urban aspirations, urban-ruralpopulation distribution, and rapid urban expansion are increasingly important factors inregional land-use change, within major urban centers, in peri-urban areas, and even in remotehinterland areas (Angelsen et al. 1999). Many new urban dwellers in developing countriesstill own rural landholdings so that growth of urban areas not only creates new local andregional markets for livestock, timber, and agricultural products, it also increases urbanremittances to the countryside.

  1. d) Institutional Factors

Land-use conversions are influenced directly by political, legal, economic, and traditionalinstitutions and by their interactions with individual decision making. Local and national policies and institutions structure access to land, labor, capital, technology, andinformation, including property-rights; environmental policies; decision-making systems forresource management (e.g., decentralized, democratized, state-controlled, local communal,legal) and social networks concerning distribution and access to resources. Land degradationand other negative environmental consequences of land-use changes are often the results of ill-definedpolicies and weak institutional enforcement that undermine local adaptationstrategies, such as subsidies for road construction, agricultural production, and forestry. On theother hand, the recovery or restoration of land is also possible with appropriate land-usepolicies (Poteete et al. 2004). It is therefore critical that institutions that influence landmanagement decisions are built around participation by local land managers and concern forthe environment.

  1. e) Cultural Factors

Numerous cultural factors also influence decision making on land use. The motivations,collective memories, personal histories, attitudes, values, beliefs, and individual perceptionsof land managers influence land-use decisions, sometimes profoundly. The intended andunintended ecological consequences of land-use decisions all depend on the knowledge,information, and management skills available to land managers, and these, in turn, are oftenlinked to political and economic conditions, e.g., the status of women or ethnic minorities (Leemans et al. 2003). The cultural models of land managers and other agents of land usechange thus help explain the management of resources, adaptive strategies, compliance orresistance to policies, social learning, and social resilience in the face of land-use change.

  1. f) Globalization

Globalization processes can amplify or attenuate existing driving forces for land use changeby removing geographical barriers to change, weakening national connections, and increasing theinterdependency among people and between nations. Globalization as such is not itself adriver of land-use change but acts as an underlying process for other driving forces. Althoughthe environmental effects of macroeconomic policies and trade liberalization are particularlyimportant in countries with fragile ecosystems (e.g., semiarid lands and mangrove forests),international trade and other forms of globalization can also improve environmental conditionsthrough green certification and eco-labeling, the wider and more rapid spread of technologies.  Better media coverage allowing international pressure on states that degrade their resources,and free circulation of people, which provides better educational and employmentopportunities (Barbier, 2000). International institutions (including organizations within theUnited Nations (UN) system and non-governmental organizations) can be instrumental insetting political agendas, building consensus, and promoting and funding policies aimed atsustainable land management.

  1. g) Interaction of Causes

Multiple interacting factors always cause Land-use change. The mix of driving forcesof land-use change varies in time and space according to specific human-environmentconditions. Therefore, land-use changes tend to be driven by a combination of factors thatwork gradually and factors that happen intermittently. Biophysical drivers of land use change,such as droughts induced by climate change or loss of soil fertility by erosion may be asimportant as human drivers, which include economics and policy. As a result, biophysicalfactors, both abiotic (climate, terrain) and biotic (native and introduced species, primaryproductivity, etc.), tend to define the natural capacity or predisposing conditions for land-usechange among localities and regions. Trigger events, whether biophysical (a drought orhurricane) or socioeconomic (a war or economic crisis), also drive land-use changes (Ericet al. 2007).

It is, therefore, necessary to identify the exact causes of land use change to takeprecautionary measures that will ensure sustainable development. Although it is difficult todetect and mitigate underlying causes, knowing their effects on land use change can lead tobetter understating and control of direct causes of land use change. These can only be achievedif the useful land use management framework is in place.


Overview of land use planning response to urbanization

Asamoah, (2010) notes, urban planning plays an integral part in increasing the capacity of cities to cope with population growth. Poor planning leads to inefficiencies and institutional rigidities that hasten diminishing returns and causes inoperative capabilities. Proper planning, however, allows a city to take in more than what the average would permit (Mutiara, 2008). In an attempt to ensure better management of urbanization, governments adopt macro and micro-economic policies designed to mitigate the magnitude of urbanization to manageable levels. In Kumasi, for instance, land use planning, managing, and controlling its growth and development has been a daunting task. The mechanism for regulating its construction is rather weak, ineffective, inappropriate, and limited in scope; measures to enforce planning legislation are very unpopular and rarely implemented. Adarkwa and Post, (2001) observed that development control in Ghana tends to be reactive instead of proactive. Besides, there islittle coordination between various development stakeholders. Hence, most planning done is on a piecemeal basis, and the overall effect is that development appears haphazard, uncoordinated, and uneconomical.

Land use planning and management tools have, over the years, played a crucial role in avoiding and mitigating the adverse impact of rapid, unplanned urbanization (Masakazu, 2003). As a primary tool, concrete plans established areto address mid and long-term problems. Physical planning, as a complement to social and economic planning, has an important role to play in helping achieve the aims of social, economic and other forms of a plan (Asamoah, 2010). The result manifested is in a meaningful and functional organization of facilities in space. These include the proper use of land, development of the new area, and provision of water, energy, and infrastructure that favordecentralized economic growth. Such planning approach is useful in establishing orderly and consistent use of land.

Also, zoning regulations promote efficiency and allow for more relaxed control of urban development. Zoning techniques, applied are to implement master plans and guide urban development to spatially appropriate areas, including designation of sensitive land resources and areas, the establishment of buffer zones, management of hazard-prone lands and protection of cultural resources. Others include conservation of open spaces and urban green, control of prime agricultural land and discouraging of excessive urban sprawl.

Land use planning in Kenya

The proper planning, design, and management of land use demands a careful balancing of many goals, and the search for desirable land uses, coupled with practical and sustainable management practices, made more complicated by the interactions between the environment, the economy, and society (Masakazu, 2003). Therefore, land use planning is a process that is concerned with the preparation and actualization of spatial frameworks for the orderly management of human activities. At the policy level, principles or rules to guide decisions formulated are to achieve rational land uses; hence land use planning is essentialto the efficient and sustainable utilization and management of land and land-based resources.

In Kenya, however, there are minimal efforts made to ensure that such plans are adequately prepared and implemented. This is mainly due to the glaring functional disconnect between the plan preparatory authorities and agencies, lack of appropriate technical and institutional capacity of local authorities, inadequate human resource establishment in the ministry responsible for physical planning, lack of a useful coordinating framework for preparation and implementation of the planning proposals and regulations (Kiita, 2013).

These problems manifest themselves in terms of unmitigated urban sprawl, land use conflicts, environmental degradation, among others. Also, development control (usually referred to as the Police Power) which is the power of the State to regulate property rights in land, has not been extensively used to control or otherwise restrict the use of land and to enforce sustainable land use practices throughout the country. Furthermore, the Police Power exercised by various Government agencies whose activities are uncoordinated with the result that theattendant regulatory framework is ineffective mainly (GOK, 2010). Besides, Kenya does not have updated land use plans and development control guidelines, a situation that has led to urban sprawl and maleficent conversions of agricultural land (GOK, 2008; GOK 2010).

It is evident that land use conversions and management in the urban fringes has been of great concern in the world over. In Kenya, for instance, the authorities responsible for land use management and other stakeholders are experiencing a dilemma as to what would be the most economically viable, technologicallyfeasible, and sustainable land use(s) in the fertile urban-rural fringes. Indeed, Nairobi Metro 2030 Strategy confirms this by stating as follows, “the extent of Nairobi Metro Region (NMR) includes purely agricultural areas which are intended for agricultural and agricultural-supporting services.

Designation as agricultural land will reinforce objectives of protecting the agricultural land base of the region. The strategy will address the dilemma on whether to allow indiscriminate land subdivisions and change of use or to promote agrarian activities by restricting urban growth and also address issues of food security” (Nairobi Metro Strategy 2030). According to Musa and Odera, (2014), understanding the changes is very critical for planners and resource managers as this will help control and restrict urban growth from eating into agricultural land, which is vital but scarce.

The uneven and unplanned expansion of metropolitan or urban region into the countryside is also exerting pressure to the already inadequate provision of social services that are a result of the rapid urbanization in the urban fringes, which include, reduced solid waste and disposal management systems, insufficient sanitation and sewerage systems, inadequate water supply.



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