Environment, Development and Sustainability

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 465–500

Urbanisation Without Development: Environmental and Health Implications in African Cities

  • Kwasi Boadi
  • Markku Kuitunen
  • Kolawole Raheem
  • Kari Hanninen


Sustainable development advocates for a balance between socio-economic development and the environment in the pursuit of human advancement. In Africa, high population growth and inadequate infrastructure in urban areas exert pressure on the environment and this threatens the health and wellbeing of urban residents. The population of the African continent until the 1960s was predominantly rural. This scenario has taken a swift turn and some of the major shifts in the global urbanisation process are taking place on the continent. Factors including natural increase in the population, rural–urban migration, strife and hunger leading to the internal displacement of populations have exacerbated the urbanisation process in Africa. The situation has been worsened by the imposition of Western development policies, including structural adjustment programmes on African nations, which has eroded the subsistence base of rural agricultural communities and further ignited rural urban migration. The failure of industry to absorb the increasing labour force has created massive unemployment and deepening poverty crisis in urban centres. Inadequate provision of infrastructure and services to meet the growth in urban populations has resulted in inefficient spatial development of urban centres, the proliferation of squatter settlements, inadequate basic amenities including potable water, sanitation and waste disposal. Poor environmental sanitation has resulted in the upsurge of infectious diseases and deteriorating urban health. Urban populations in Africa are also the worst affected by newly emerging diseases, particularly HIV/AIDS. The poor bear a disproportionately large share of the problems due to their particular vulnerability to environmental and health risks.


Africa environment health risks poverty rural–urban migration sanitation sustainability urbanisation 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kwasi Boadi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Markku Kuitunen
    • 1
  • Kolawole Raheem
    • 1
  • Kari Hanninen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and ScienceUniversity of JyvaskylaFinland
  2. 2.Kwasi BoadiTurkuFinland

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