Managing Urbanisation in Asia

The National Academy of Science of Sri Lanka (NASSL) organised this Re­gional Workshop jointly with AASSA and with financial support from IAP

Most  industrialised  or  industrialising  countries  have  experienced  both  economic  growth  and  urbanisation.  Urban  population  growth  has  oc­curred  mainly  through  rural­ to­ urban  migra­tion, and from 2007, more than half of the glob­al population has been living in cities.Urbanisation  and  its  consequences  are  es­pecially  relevant  in  low­  and  middle ­income  countries.

With the aim of examining the status of  urbanisation  in  Asian  countries  and  to  prepare  an  analysis  of  major  problems  and  their  policy  implications,  the  National  Academy  of  Science  of  Sri  Lanka  (NASSL)  organised  a  Re­gional  Workshop  on  ‘Managing  Urbanisation  in  Asia’  jointly  with  AASSA  and  with  financial  support from IAP. On 25­-26 June 2019, 40 inter­national  and  national  experts,  including  young  planners, convened in Colombo, Sri Lanka. These experts   analysed   the   current   status   of   urb­anisation  and  industrialisation  and  developed  a  set  of  recommendations  to  promote  sustain­able urbanisation, including reforming national state  policies,  ideally  safeguarded  by  constitu­tional  reforms,  to  promote  planned  urbanisa­tion  rather  than  ad  hoc  planning.  Participants  also urged the use of science-­based approaches in  urban  planning  aligned  with  the  SDGs,  including a consideration of the health and well-be­ing of urban populations.

Here you can find the papers presented at the workshop:

Managing Urbanization in Nepal: Challenges and choices

by Dr. Sunil Babu Shrestha

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Urbanization in Nepal is happening at a fast rate. Recently, the Government of Nepal declared 293 local government units as municipalities among 753 such units. Considering the municipalities as urban areas, the urban population has reached more than 60 percent of Nepal’s total population.

The major issues for urban management in Nepal include the maintenance of sufficient open and green spaces and the preservation of agricultural production.The causes of rapid urbanization in Nepal are the high rural to urban migration and the creation of municipalities by merging a number of rural areas by the government. One of the successful urban development tools used in Nepal is the Land Pooling Project. Some Integrated Urban Development Projects have been implemented for emerging municipalities. Eighteen cities are planned to develop under a One City-One Identity concept that brands cities based on their socio-economic activities.

Recently, a large number of municipalities have been preparing their Integrated Urban Development Plans. One of the chief consequences of urbanization is the loss of productive lands resulting in a decrease in food self-sufficiency and green spaces in the cities. To tackle this urban issue, the ongoing Fourteen National Development plan has emphasized the concept of Food Green City (FGC) for integrating urban agriculture with urban planning. Research findings have revealed that there are huge opportunities for applying hydroponic technology on roof-tops.

This paper recommends an approach to managing some urbanization issues in Nepal through the concept of Food Green City using the hydroponic technology for producing food and providing green spaces on roof-tops in urban areas.

Managing Urbanization in Sri Lanka: The need for a science-based approach

by K. Locana Gunaratna

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Urbanization through rural-urban migration was associated with industrialization in 19th Century Europe and those countries did experience economic growth. Later, the prolonged mechanization of agriculture in some of those countries also provided a further impetus to urbanization in their respective populations. Thus, economic growth has come to be closely associated in the West with urbanization.

However, the conditions that generated urbanization in the West were not necessarily the same as those that are causing urbanization in the low and middle income countries (LMICs) today. Furthermore, the colonial impact did cause some urbanization in the LMICs but the prosperity it generated was inequitable. There was a spatial planning approach that arose in the late 19th century to deal with urbanization in England during their industrialization - a visionary ‘utopian’ concept that gained credence and popularity in the West. That is almost the only approach in current use in South Asia. While appropriate in earlier Western contexts, its relevance to the LMICs today needs to be questioned. The scale of urbanization in South Asia today is much greater in magnitude than its manifestation earlier in the West.

Furthermore, the impacts upon LMICs of on-going globalization, scientific developments and technological innovations including those of ICT need also to be taken into account now. Thus, the spatial planning approaches required in South Asia and discussed in the paper, strive to be science-based and consequently are different to the popular approaches based on those taken earlier in the West.

Nature of Urbanisation and Urban Policies in India

by R. B. Bhagat

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The twentieth century witnessed a rapid shift of population from rural to urban areas in most of the countries of the world. A merely 13 per cent of the global population lived in urban areas in 1900, which increased to 29 per cent in 1950 and crossed the 50 percent mark (50.1 percent) in 2009 (U.N. 2009). In 2018, 55 percent of the world’s population has been residing in urban areas. However, the pattern of urbanization is found to be very unequal between the more developed and less developed world. More than 80 per cent of population of North America, Latin America and Caribbean lived in urban areas compared to 74 per cent in Europe and 68 per cent in Oceania. On the other hand, half of the population in Asia lives in urban area compared to 43 per cent in Africa (U.N. 2018).

In India only one-third of population lives in urban areas. In the decades after 1991 India has experienced an accelerated economic growth after the Central Government launched economic reforms in the country. The economic reforms aimed at loosening the control of the Govt and encouraged entrepreneurs to actively participate in India’s economic development. The economic growth reached to about 8 percent per annum during the first decade of the new millennium compared to just 3 percent growth in the early 1980s.  This has also led a very spectacular change in the perception of the Central Government about urbanization. In Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012), it is argued that urbanization should be seen as a positive factor in overall development.  This change in the thinking is coincidental with the fact that urban sector presently contributes to about 65 percent of the GDP, and is also the product of the realization that an ambitious goal of 9 to10 percent growth in GDP fundamentally depends on making Indian cities much more livable, inclusive and competitive (Planning Commission 2008). The urban transition is considered as one of the major challenges which will require a massive expansion in urban infrastructure and services.

Under this backdrop, the results of the 2011 census on urban population growth assumes enormous significance in enhancing our understanding about the magnitude, growth and inter-state variations in the levels and tempo of urbanization in the country. This paper presents an assessment of the emerging pattern of urbanization, its spatial pattern and the components of urban growth namely contribution of natural increase, rural-urban classification of settlements and the contribution of rural to urban migration. It also throws light on some policy issues.

Simplified Hydroponics for Urban Agriculture – Opportunities and Challenges

by S.H. Liyanarachchi and M.D.J.S.Saparamadu

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Simplified hydroponics system has been proved to be an appropriate technology for urban agriculture and to produce vegetables for household consumption which is most suited for communities with limited space. Efficient use of water, nutrient, time and labour are the distinct advantages of this technology which will suit busy professionals, women, elderly people and also people with disabilities. Results of the socio-economic assessment and market feasibility conducted involving community groups and institutions revealed that for the successful adoption of the technology and for scaling up it is important to make all three components of the simplified hydroponics system to be available on commercial basis.

Urbanisation and Industrialisation in Asian Countries: The spectre of premature deindustrialisation

by Amitabh Kundu

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An overview of the contemporary development literature in Asian countries suggests that despite widely different trends and patterns, alternate policy frameworks and varying ideological dispositions of the policy makers and researchers, the dominant perspective is that the region is currently experiencing rapid urbanisation and migration and that this would continue in future years. The past decade and a half has been considered to be a period of a progressive shift of the epicentre of urbanisation from “the predominantly northern latitudes of developed countries to the southern ones of developing countries” and that “the mean latitude of global urban population has been steadily moving to south.” Several countries in Asia are noted to be experiencing acceleration in the growth in the number of migrants and urban population since the late seventies and as a result the continent currently accounts for about half of the world‟s urban population.

Urbanization and Social Sustainability: Policies and strategies for achieving well-being

by Felia Srinaga and Finarya Legoh

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Urbanization is caused by various factor, both pull and push factors from cities and rural areas. The urbanization in Indonesia increases due to lack of infrastructure and facilities in rural areas and demand pull from trade and industrial sector in urban area. The momentum of large urbanization to big cities is triggered during and after Eid Al-Fitr, when the relatively low level education workers seek a better challenge in the informal sectors such as selling street vendors, opening stalls, hawker and the like.

Large concentration area of population as a result of urbanization has an impact on environmental, social, cultural, economic and political problems. Then, In Indonesia, there is an opportunity to provide special characteristic or identity for cities with unique community life and the work that they develop. This paper aims to look at socio-cultural and psychological problems which challenge the realization of well-being in cities and rural areas. The methodology used is from both literature and review of precedents.

Urbanization should be well controlled in order to bring many benefits to the development of the city, especially for its economic development. However, the socio-cultural and psychological problems that characterize the life of migrants need special attention, as well as for urban governance. This paper then recommends policies and coping strategies in the physical and economic fields, in order to achieve well-being and to improve quality of life through social sustainability studies.

Urbanization Policies in Sri Lanka: Are urban sectors ignoring health implications?

by Saroj Jayasinghe, Zhu Yongguan, Jo Ivey Boufford and Franz Gatsweiler

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Urban living has become the principal habitat for the human species and continues to grow in almost all countries. The underlying processes of urbanization and the resultant urban population varies across regions and countries due to differences in economic activity, culture, historical antecedents,  geography and population densities.

Sri Lanka was considered one of the slowest urbanizing countries globally. In 2012 the census estimated a population of 20.359 million with 18.2% living in 64 municipal areas (including the 9 provincial capitals). However, studies using satellite imagery have found that urban sprawl and urbanization are indeed occurring at a very rapid pace and estimates of urban and peri-urban populations range from 35-45% or even 50%.

The impact of urbanization and urban living on health and wellbeing are complex. As a result, each urban area or city has a unique, dynamic mix or pattern health outcomes, morbidities, and mortalities.  Understanding the complex dynamic interactions between urban environment, urban living and these health parameters requires a systems approach (4). Under these circumstances, it is necessary to explore the importance given to health during  the process of urbanization in Sri Lanka, by sectors other than health. Colombo was selected because it is the commercial capital and the largest city. As an initial step we studied the commitment given to health and wellbeing in publicly available policy documents of government related institutions that are largely responsible for urbanization. The second part of the study will look at the financial allocations, institutional arrangements, stakeholder engagement and multi-sectoral activities in relation to health. The crucial and important role played by the health sector is not discussed in this paper.

Urbanization Situation in Kyrgyzstan

by Gulzar Karybekova

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One-fifth of the world’s population today lives in the 600 largest cities, which account for more than half of global GDP. By 2025, these cities will be home to a quarter of the world’s population, and they will produce more than 60% of global GDP. The population of cities in emerging economies is expected to double between 2000 and 2030, from 2 to 4 billion people, and their built-up area will triple in size, from 200,000 to 600,000 square kilometers.

The rapid growth of cities and urban population bring both opportunities and challenges. On the one hand, cities are drivers of economic growth and development, concentrating opportunities for businesses and people. On the other hand, urban infrastructure often fails to keep pace with demand, leading to a deterioration of living conditions and such problems as environmental degradation, a shortage and poor quality of public services, the rise of disease and health risks, and so on. This is clearly apparent in the megacities of Asia and the world.

IAP Communications Assistant