Rural - Urban Migration and Ways of Stopping the Migration

Rural-urban linkage generally refers to the growing flow of public and private capital, people (migration and commuting) and goods (trade) between urban and rural areas. It is important to add to these the flow of ideas, the flow of information and diffusion of innovation. Adequate infrastructure such as transportation, communication, energy and basic services is the backbone of the urban-rural development linkage approach (Tacoli, 2004). There is a positive relationship between adequacy of transportation infrastructure, ease of mobility and access to employment and enhancement of income.

Adequate investments in infrastructure, particularly transportation infrastructure, also improve rural productivity and allow access to markets, jobs and public service by both men and women. (2nd FIG Regional Conference, 2003)

Rural urban linkages have several definitions, out of a desire to express the nature as clearly and concisely as possible. Thereby more recently social scientists, economists, architects and urban planners have been compelled to work together in the rural–urban interface concept seen as the interaction between the two spheres and an explicit acceptance of spatial coexistence of both.

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Worries are the necessity to feed and water supply the rising numbers of people that arrive in the cities every day, and also the need to find the best solutions to integrate complementary realms in order to ameliorate policies and governance (Madaleno et al., 2004).

There are different perspectives on “urban” currently adopted in mainland Tanzania:

Politico-administrative perspective

Adopted by the Prime Minister’s Office- Regional Administration and Local Government, a human settlement perspective embraced by the Ministry of Lands and Human Settlements Development and a statistical perspective adopted by the National Bureau of Statistics, The three perspectives differ primarily in their spatial unit of analysis.

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It applies its own categorization of “urban” to politico-administrative entities, the Local Government Authorities; while the National Bureau of Statistics applies the concept of “urban” to Enumeration Areas (EAs), the smallest statistical unit of analysis in the population and household censuses. A common denominator of the three above-mentioned urban perceptions is that none of them explicitly accounts for population density.

The human settlements perspective

National Human Settlement Development Policy 2000 provides a classification of human settlements “based on population size, level of services, economic base and level of sustenance in annual budget” Based on the policy, the urban hierarchy in Tanzania consists of four urban strata: cities, municipalities, towns and townships (or district headquarters). While the first three urban strata based on the human settlements perspective overlap with the politico-administrative classification of urban centers, the Ministry of Land Human Settlement and Development recognizes a fourth urban stratum, the townships or headquarters of the district councils.

Rural; In general rural is a geographical area in which primary production takes place and where populations are found in varying densities. These areas characterized by activities related to primary and secondary processing, marketing and services that serve rural and urban population. Defining rural is both technically and theoretically challenging and it is unlikely that there will be a universally agreed definition any time soon. The Census Bureau uses population size and density to define what is urban and by default defines rural as that which is not urban.

Counties that are not designated as metropolitan are designated as non-metropolitan counties. These are further divided into metropolitan counties, and “non-core counties” who are often used as proxies for rural. These are overlapping and often contradictory definitions, with more than half (51 percent) of all rural residents, amounting to over 30 million people, living in metropolitan counties, and 41 percent of the nonmetropolitan population (over 20 million residents) living in urban areas (Miller, 2006).

Rural - urban migration phenomena;

The main reasons for rural out-migration in the impact region are largely economic. They include poor pricing of cash crops, lack of alternative activities in rural areas, poor returns from agriculture and following relatives. Consequently, rural out-migration leads to three main drawbacks in the rural areas; namely decreased labour-force in agriculture, decreased productivity in agriculture and threatened food security in the region. On one hand, Bryceson (2000) argues that if poverty alleviation is the objective of development in both rural and urban areas, then the issue of rural labour displacement cannot be avoided.

At the same time, the increase in the cost of food and the introduction of user fees for education and health services has forced many households to seek cash incomes through employment diversification – including non-farm occupations for rural residents, often located in urban centers – migration and urban agriculture The increased emphasis on producers’ direct access to markets, following the dismantling of marketing boards which used to be the main outlet for small agricultural producers, has strengthened the links with urban centers, where local markets and links to wider regional and national marketing systems are located. This is not without problems, however, as limited information, inadequate infrastructure and storage and processing facilities can hamper increased returns for producers.

The following are the ways on how rural areas in Tanzania can be developed hence an alternative discouraging rural to urban migration.

Improving rural farmer’s access to the inputs and services required to increase agricultural productivity. The sharp reduction in subsidies to agricultural inputs has affected the incomes of small-scale, under-capitalized farmers in most regions, whilst the retrenchment of workers in the formal sector has deepened financial insecurity in the urban centers (Tacoli, 2004). Access to land, capital and labour may be far more important in determining the extent to which farmers are able to benefit from urban markets.

Patterns of attendance at periodic markets also show that distance is a much less important issue than rural consumers’ income and purchasing power in determining demand for manufactured goods, inputs and services (Morris, 1997). Nevertheless, access to urban markets is a key to increasing incomes for rural and peri-urban farmers. Three aspects are crucial: physical infrastructure, including road networks and affordable transport; relations between producers, traders and consumers; and information on how markets operate, including price fluctuations and consumer preferences. Land ownership can become increasingly unequal, as large farmers and wealthier urban households purchase land rights from small holders who cannot afford to buy inputs and have limited access to credit (Grand, 2001).

Improving physical infrastructure; this can have far-reaching consequences on producer’s prices, as inadequate roads usually entail prohibitive transport costs. In Tanzania, collection, transport and sale of previously controlled cash crops has been liberalized since the mid-1980. Cashew nuts from the southern region are primarily for export, and a small number of private companies control their purchase, collection and transport to the main shipping port of Mtwara.

Road infrastructure in the area however, is extremely poor; making transport costs prohibitive (Tacoli, 2004). Although private companies are only allowed to buy the nuts from farmer cooperatives in designated locations, in practice these are out of reach for small farmers, who can hardly afford transport costs. Lack of good transport and communication networks is one of the greatest handicap to rural development; agricultural and other rural based products cannot easily reach markets, perishable products rot for lack of cold storage, prices are uncertain as farmers are forced to sell at lower prices to avoid total loss. Often buyers of cash and food crops hesitate to reach areas remote from highway and all-weather roads.

Creating rural non-farm employment opportunities;

Diversification can be described as an accumulation strategy for households with farming assets and with access to urban networks, and who often re-invest profits from urban-based activities in agricultural production and vice-versa, resulting in capital and asset accumulation (Tacoli, 2002). Transformations in the ways in which households and individuals make a living are perhaps the most striking aspect of rural–urban linkages and, in many cases, involve multiple occupations ranging from farming to services to processing and manufacturing.

In most rural locations, there has been an increase among rural households in the time devoted to, and the income share derived from, non-farm activities, although diversification is not new. Nor is it a purely rural phenomenon, and the reliance of hundreds of millions of urban residents on agriculture, either for household consumption or as an income-generating opportunity, is well documented (Baker, 1995). Recent survey data on employment patterns in southern Tanzania show that 67 percent of respondents living in villages and in the intermediate town of Lindi are engaged in more than one income-generating activity, including both farming and non-farm (Tacoli, 2003).

Rural households need a variety of financial products that includes savings, loans, insurance, leasing and means of transfer payment; The degree of demand for these products is however determined by the household size, house hold level of poverty, level of education and skills, life cycles needs and local market opportunities. However financial sector has done little to impact rural household livelihoods. Besides there is reduced funding as well as investment in agriculture which forms the key sector of the economy (Faustine, 2007). Consequently, the performance of the agricultural sector has been declining although its contribution to national GDP is still significant.

Rural areas are hardly served by banks hence limiting access to financial services. With the liberalization of financial sector in Tanzania co-operatives have collapsed, development banks are no longer active and commercial banks have withdrawn from serving rural areas thus creating a supply gap being replaced by informal finance. According to Faustine (2007) recommend that a facilitative intervention by the government in the development of financial market, that address the national poverty reduction development objective through economic growth is required in the desired action are those that focus on improvement in demand for financial services, reduced transaction costs, improved banking infrastructure and reduction of other structural bottlenecks limiting access to financial services.

Rural industrialization;

This is based on local raw materials instead of searching for markets for their products, the producers use them. Industrial processing has the advantage of adding value on low products. So that while primary products fetch ever decreasing prices, secondly (processed) products fetch higher prices. So the greatest gain to primary product producers when such products are processed or manufactured is value added (Kapinga, 2009). Tanzania has not made progress in processing industry; horticultural products are wasted owning to lack of transport and cold storage facilities. Very poor infrastructure makes it difficult to attract even local investors to the rural areas where almost 80% of Tanzanian live ‘This has been another obstacle in promotion of SMEs especially in rural areas’ (SME policy, 2003). Think of oranges and mangoes rotting along the high way in Korogwe and Muheza districts. Therefore if rural industries are put in place, will discourage youth people from migrating to urban areas where they know that the services are available and can make life easy hence fostering rural development.

Rural General Sensitive development;

There is an intrinsic gender Issue where poverty and development is concerned in rural area due to cultural aspects that prevail. One of the ways in which this is manifested is in the shift from women led leadership to man lead leadership as one moves from subsistence farming to market driven farming. Women are important as food producers, managers of natural resources, income earners and caretakers of household food security. The education of women is known to produce powerful effects on nearly every dimension of development, from lowering fertility rate to raising productivity, to improving environmental management.

If women are to fully effectively in contributing to poverty eradication and development, discrimination against them must be eliminated and the value of their role. However, care should be taken not to aggravate the male gender while we pursue the noble task of empowering women if we do not have the support in the local communities, public investments in education are less effective (Mwaniki, 2003). We should as much as it should educate women as they are the ones responsible for reproduction they take a lot of time to produce; therefore this will be a helping tool to develop rural areas.

Good Governance

While it could be argued that all the above interventions are part of good governance, special emphasis on the need for good governance is prudent. All the above strategies can only work in a peaceful, corruption free environment. Part of good governance is the provision of safety nets to vulnerable groups in the case of rural areas. It should also provide for the minority and be totally inclusive in its decision-making with regard to their rural development issues. There is need to delink political interests from the basic needs of rural area in terms of education, electricity supply, water and other social service which are similarly given to urban area. In addition, it is in everyone’s best interest to have only the best handling the issues at hand without political interference from governments and donors alike will have positive role for rural development.

Promoting, encouraging, and supporting rural entrepreneurship; This should be a coordinated effort undertaken by the central government, local governments, and nongovernmental organizations. Such endeavors should increase the number of enterprises and small businesses, increase the volume of employment, consolidate and expand already existing businesses and attract investment. However, it is reasonable to expect that those investments will generate positive economic results as early as in the medium term an increase in the number of enterprises and in the employment rate will spur demand, and local government will benefit from the increased tax base (Przemyslaw, 2001).

There is a need to go beyond the existing patterns of supporting economic activity in rural areas that focus predominantly on agriculture and food processing. A modern approach recognizes that there is a huge potential for developing other industries that can take advantage of the human resources, land, and existing patterns of economic activity in rural areas. The development of entrepreneurship can be a major means of fighting economic inertia in rural areas that are located far from the main industrial center of a country. The notion of “rural entrepreneurship” is not limited to agriculture and related activities such as food processing, but rather it covers industrial development in general. In addition, the concept is not restricted to villages but also pertains to small towns and surrounding areas.


Successful rural development goes beyond increased productivity in agriculture. Expansion of off-farm job opportunities is a necessary condition for reducing the size of the agricultural population and labor force. Changes in the occupational composition of the labor force, formal and informal, prevent overcrowding on the land and make possible higher levels of productivity and per capita income, Youth and adults who seek a transition from farming to off-farm employment often require basic skills in literacy, if not the experience of formal learning and discipline that comes from attending school.

They need to be able to make simple business transactions, to weigh and measure, and to read simple documents Certain policies supported by the central government with regard to rural areas can significantly contribute to rural development; it is the responsibility of the central government to allow for the equal development of all regions of a country by creating opportunities for underdeveloped areas. A viable policy includes decentralizing and providing local governments with more independence. This process means giving up certain rights that the central government enjoyed under the centrally planned economy. Another recommendation involves decentralizing the tax system so that taxes can be spent in the areas where they have been collected. Such a policy will improve the financial position of rural areas. It should be kept in mind that municipalities are better prepared than the central government to tackle local issues


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Updated: Feb 22, 2021
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Rural - Urban Migration and Ways of Stopping the Migration. (2017, Jan 29). Retrieved from

Rural - Urban Migration and Ways of Stopping the Migration essay
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