Nepal | April 08, 2020

Urban development: Determinants and devices


Industrial development is the bedrock of urbanization. Industries are located in urban areas, especially in larger megalopolis, because they gain from ready avenue to capital and labor coupled with financial, legal and technical support

urbanisationUrbanization entails transformation of the population, production process, and ambiance of a predominantly rural economy that is comparatively evenly allocated over space and labor-intensive in character into an urban economy of relatively high spatial accumulation, lofty specialization in the manufacture of commodities and services, and close interdependence – private and public – as well as of a high level of technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

The attributes of contemporaneous urbanization in developing nations diverge significantly from those of historical exposure. While urbanization in the developed nations took many decades, the course of action in developing nations is happening at a more rapid tempo, against a scenario of soaring population growth, appalling incomes, and paucity of prospects for global migration.

Initially, the salient determinant of the pace and sequence of urbanization in developing nations appears to be rural urban migration. The flow of migrants is regularly disparaged for precipitating rural stagnation, inordinate urban development, urban unemployment and hand to mouth existence. Nonetheless, this is at best a partial and at worst a fraudulent view. First, inborn population growth, rather than migration, is the pivotal reason of urban population pullulation. Likewise, even if the inundation of migrants as a rule imposes extra pecuniary onus on public services, these impediments could be eradicated if the services were more suitably priced and distributed.

The tempo of industrial development is the bedrock of urbanization. Industries are located in urban areas, especially in larger megalopolis, because they gain from ready avenue to capital and labor coupled with financial, legal and technical support inputs. Cities proffer markets for industrial products, and furnish convenient ingress to other domestic and global markets through the established transportation networks. Urbanization is also impaired by the stride of rural development. The penchant of the agricultural sector to absorb a bloating rural labor force is administered by such determinants as the climate, the availability and distribution of land, the choice of agricultural technology, the demand for agricultural commodities and the availability of credit, fertilizers and technical aid.

Transportation and communications channels instigate the movement of people, and commodities and information between areas. If the growth of transport and communications is to function a key part in mitigating spatial concentration and fostering the growth of less-developed areas, it must be formulated as part of a broader grand design to attain those goals.

Deplorably, it is inordinately abstruse, if not impossible, to decide the optimum degree of urbanization and the best spatial distribution of economic enterprise in any given country. Information on the comparative demerits and merits of urban versus rural developments and of the development of gargantuan versus small cities, is woefully limited. In any case, economic efficiency is not the only facet of urbanization with which most governments are concerned. Urban growth is a comparatively recent incident in Nepal but is gaining propulsion because of high natural population growth and rural-urban migration. The principal cities are of small dimension by global standards. There is a massive centralization of economic activities in a few cities, purveying unmitigated contrast to the economic sluggishness and much appalling average incomes in many of the peripheral regions.

A slew of measures can be proposed to streamline the urbanization course of action. Policies should be concocted to increase the demand for unskilled urban workers, improve the functioning of the urban labor market, and deter the growth of the urban labor supply through family planning programs and accelerated rural development. These policies must be pursued at the country level. Attainable and well-serviced land for industrial, commercial and residential utilization is indispensable to the able and nondiscriminatory development of urban regions. The administration of municipal territory in its multifaceted dimensions-land transpose and tenure governance, public investment decisions, and taxes, among others- is therefore a salient component of an appropriate urban policy package.

Improvements in transport investment policies must be supplemented by enhancements in transport pricing policies. This would not only make urban transport more competent, but also abet in preserving energy, foreign exchange and public resources, increasing employment and rendering services to the urban poor. Even the most prominent urban development scheme comes to naught unless there are certain organizations that can execute it. Improvement in the institutional framework is accordingly a prerequisite.

Finally, it is exigent to boost coordination and cooperation between municipal and central authorities for finance, planning and other functions germane to urban resource administration. The purview and capacities of the growing tasks of urban administration need adequate scrutiny from the pertinent planners and decision- makers.

Dr. Pant is a free-lance consultant

A version of this article appears in print on March 21, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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