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Rural-Urban Dynamics in the East African Mountains

 | 
Sylvain Racaud
, 
Bob R. Nakileza
, 
François Bart
, 
et al.

Introduction: Urban irruption in mountain rural environs

François Bart et Bob R. Nakileza

Texte intégral

1East African mountains have been first studied as farming smallholders’ quite autonomous socio-systems (Bart 1993) and, more recently, as key environment and ecological issues in relation with climate change (Afromont/MRI, Alweny et al. 2014). One of the main ambitions of this book is to explain how and to what extent these mountains are now involved in new rural-urban dynamics based on mobility, access to town and market, economic and socio-cultural globalization. In the whole of tropical Africa, Bamileke Highlands (Dongmo 1981, Champaud 1983), in West Cameroon, may be considered as an emblematic and pioneering case of those open mountains, strongly integrated in global dynamics, with interwoven rural and urban driving forces.

2This study focused on the Great Lakes Region African highlands and mountains, that’s East African Community (E. A. C.) countries, which are now cooperating in common development policies, based on many cultural affinities (for example, the use of kiswahili language, bantu heritage) and on a shared historical background (i. e. ancient kingdoms, English speaking countries except Burundi). In those five countries – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda – highlands and mountains play a key role in population settings, agriculture and tourism. This book is based on three of them, which are the most populated – Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, respectively with an estimated population of 46,000,000, 53,000,000 and 39,000,000 thus totalling 138,000,000 inhabitants (World Bank 2015), and members of EAC since 2001; each of them has some of the highest and most famous mountains: Mts Ruwenzori (5,109 m), Elgon (4,321 m), Kenya (5,199 m), Kilimanjaro (5,892 m) and many others, very famous too (Ngorongoro, Meru, Virunga). Most of them have been for long the core of densely populated agricultural regions.

3“Smallholder agriculture is projected to be economically sustainable in the future because of expanding urban centers, rapid economic growth in most of the case study countries and the accompanying demand for more diversified products, mainly fruits and vegetables... In addition, urbanization and rapid economic growth in Africa and many developing countries before the global financial crisis has pushed up consumers’ purchasing power, generated rising demand for food, and shifted food demand away from traditional staples toward higher-value foods like meat and milk. However, with the increasing amounts of land being shifted out of agriculture, urbanization also poses a challenge in the studied countries” (Salami et al. 2010: 39).

4This official text, published in 2010 by the African Development Bank, displays the classical approach of rural-urban linkages, though this report deals specifically with several East African countries (Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Tanzania). In fact, more generally speaking, many books have been written on urbanization and rural development but very few addressing the urban-rural linkages specifically in the mountain setting. What is noticeable and remarkable in East African mountains’ references is not only urban growth, but the very sudden irruption of urbanization in high rural density areas (Calas 2007), which remained, a few years ago, among the least urbanized in the world: in 1990, for instance, according to the World Bank data, the percentage of urban population was only 5 % in Rwanda, 6 % in Burundi, 11 % in Uganda, 17 % in Kenya and 19 % in Tanzania. In 2015, according to the World Bank data, the percentage of urban population is 29 % in Rwanda, 12 % in Burundi, 16 % in Uganda, 26 % in Kenya and 32 % in Tanzania.

5At least some textbooks exist on Mt Ruwenzori - Uganda/DRC – (Osmaston et al.1998), Mt. Kilimanjaro – Tanzania – (Bart et al. 1993) and Rwanda and Burundi highlands (Bart 1993, Cazenave-Piarrot et al. 2015), but they provide limited information about the impact of a recent but very fast accelerating urbanization in those rural and agricultural highlands, which may be considered as important historic and demographic strongholds. Moreover, this urban evolution of the last three decades coincides with the emergence of new forms of globalization and new technologies (ICT): new communication technologies are an important factor driving globalization and, conversely, it is due to globalization that these technologies have spread so quickly in the rural areas.

6This book, covering social and environmental science issues relating to urban-rural nature, is the first of its kind on African mountains.

7Mountains the world over are experiencing social and environmental rapid changes and yet are sensitive due to their topography, slow process of soil formation and plant growth, and strong population trends. The East African mountains are no exception to this. A CORUS (Coopération pour la Recherche Universitaire et Scientifique) project, funded by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was initiated in 2007 to underpin the dynamics in mountain social and physical processes using a case study of three East African mountains: Mt. Elgon (Uganda), Uporoto Mountains (Tanzania) and Mt. Kenya (Kenya) (fig. 1 to 5). These mountains are unique, they are generally characterized by increasing urban and dense rural populations, located along transport highway/ corridors, with intensive farming and compounded by changing climate conditions. Each of the selected mountains has a small and a medium town, located at lower and higher altitudes, and with increasing population that is closely linked to rural areas through resource flows and services. Studies undertaken capture varied dynamics and reflect on the implications on environmental management of these mountains.

8In East Africa, most of the mountains have a strong structuring role, in many fields. We can identify at least two types of functions:

9– The most paramount is contribution to productive economy due to attractiveness owing to their resources: mainly water, due to the importance of orographic rainfall in this arid or semi-arid part of Africa; but also the fertility of the volcanic soils and the biomass and biodiversity (especially mountain tropical forest). Both water and soil fertility contribute in making East African mountains reservoirs of natural resources, which may be used all the more for agriculture and cattle rearing (grazing reserve) since altitude brings better health conditions, and different altitude levels allow many complementarities. So, most of those mountains have high agricultural potentialities, favourable to high rural population densities. In fact, highlands are important human strongholds contrasting with quite “empty” dry lowlands. The history of those mountains displays the dynamics of “mountain farmers” (Spear 1997) systems based on mixed farming (cereals, beans, banana, tubers, coffee) associated with cattle and small livestock breeding: Chagga in Mt Kilimanjaro, Kamba in Machakos Hills, Kikuyu around Mt Kenya and Aberdare, Bagisu in Mt Elgon, among many, are representative of these smallholders’ communities involved in agricultural production and trade. They may be compared with other examples in Africa, especially Bamileke in the West Cameroon highlands, Banyarwanda in Rwanda, Basotho in Lesotho, Amhara in Ethiopia (Gascon 2006).

10– But, this book focuses on a recent change in those highlands: a growing urbanization which shapes new mountain systems. This phenomenon, which is actually a major upheaval, is the focal point of this book, giving rise to this question: which evolutions of rural-urban linkages in such contexts? Which impact in terms of livelihoods and development?

11In fact, those areas become more and more poles of development, which are based not only on high rural population densities and agricultural production, but also on the attractive dynamics of a major town, such as Mbeya in the Southern Tanzania highlands, Arusha in Mt Meru, Moshi in Mt Kilimanjaro, Nyeri in Mt Kenya, Mbale in Mt Elgon. This evolution fits in, of course, with the general trend of urbanization everywhere in Africa and in many other countries, and in some other African mountains, it has been already pointed out, for example in Cameroon, about Bamileke (Champaud 1983). More and more, rural and urban are interwoven, and display a kind of homogenous landscape of omnipresent high population density (both urban, rural, periurban, even “rurban”).

12What is original in those mountains is that the countryside remains important in terms of population, activities and cultural references. Consequently, new rural-urban interactions arise, in terms of flows, mobility, gender and generation relations, livelihoods, spatial configurations and multi-activity. New urban networks are noticeable too, including small towns, which may act as a key intermediary between rural and urban. Urban indicators in countryside, rural indicators in urban areas, tremendous human and goods flows among others become key features of those mountains. Are those mountains the privileged scene of a new modernity?

13Therefore, those mountains, which are more open to the outside world and less marginalized, get more involved as core areas in East African territories. In fact, in Kenya and Uganda, coastal regions play an important role: one of the biggest cities (Dar es Salaam), several harbours (Mombasa, Malindi, Lamu in Kenya, Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Zanzibar, Mtwara in Tanzania), all attract seaside beach international tourism. But, in both countries, highlands and mountains highly contribute to the economy through export crops (coffee and tea production), food crops (maize, banana) and mountain and safari tourism. Nairobi, the main metropolis in East Africa, is the core of the Kenyan industry, many small and medium cities are important market places, Mt Kilimanjaro and Ngorongoro are worldwide tourist attractions and a few rural areas display some of the highest densities in Africa (Kikuyu and Gusii in Kenya, Chagga in Tanzania) and remain as long-term agricultural mountain strongholds, where rural dynamics drive new urban dynamics.

14This book contains a broad range of information presented in the 14 papers, grouped in five parts. The first part sets the background on urbanization in the region. It comprises of two general papers dealing with the East African scale, and one case study, on a major town, Moshi in Mt Kilimanjaro (Tanzania). The second part mainly tackles landscape aspects, addressing methodological issues about how to take landscapes into account. This important stake for geographical studies is successively presented about transects, the future of rural landscapes, and land use and cover change (LUCC). The third focuses on mobility and livelihoods: each of the three papers deals with one of the three countries, and displays how the peasant strategies are based on mobility integrating the urban dynamics in rural social change and development. The fourth (two papers) brings the role of markets to light, from a specific example in Uganda (Mt Elgon), and on a more general scale in East Africa. The fifth (three papers) is more specifically dedicated to Kenya, especially near Mt Kenya, about the importance of services to farmers in towns; in this country the urban network is more and more conspicuous, associated not only with agriculture development (maize, coffee, tea, vegetables, cattle) to agribusiness (example of Karatina), but also to tourism.

15In a nutshell, this book is a contemporary output on the mountains of East Africa providing an essential reference to academics, and also a down-to-earth resource material for practitioners and policy makers who seek to make a difference in the management of these fragile ecosystems.

Figure 1. East African mountains

Figure 1. East African mountains

Drawn by Joseph Buosi, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès

Figure 2. Mount Elgon

Figure 2. Mount Elgon

Drawn by Joseph Buosi, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès

Figure 3. Mount Kenya

Figure 3. Mount Kenya

Drawn by Joseph Buosi, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès

Figure 4. Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru

Figure 4. Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru

Drawn by Joseph Buosi, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès

Figure 5. Uporoto Mountains

Figure 5. Uporoto Mountains

Drawn by Joseph Buosi, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès

Bibliographie

References

AFROMONT/MRI (Research Network on Global Change in African Mountains/ Mountain Research Initiative), http://mri.scnatweb.ch/en/networks/mri-africa (Retrieved August 7, 2016).

Alweny S, Nsengiyumva P, Gatarabirwa W. 2014 African Mountains Status Report N° 1, Sustainable Mountain Development Technical Report No. 1, Kampala and Cambridge, ARCOS network (http://www.mountainpartnership.org/fileadmin/user-upload/mountain-partnership/docs/African%20Mountains%20Status%20 Report-2014-Final.pdf (Retrieved August 7, 2016).

Bart F. 1993. Montagnes d’Afrique, terres paysannes; le cas du Rwanda. Talence, CEGET-PUB, coll. Espaces tropicaux n° 7.

Bart F, Mbonile MJ, Devenne F. (eds) 2006, Kilimanjaro, Mountain, Memory, Modernity. Dar es Salaam, Mkuki na Nyota Publishers.

Calas B, 2007. Dynamiques métropolitaines d’Afrique orientale. Les Cahiers d’Outre-Mer, 237: 3-22.

Cazenave-Piarrot A, Ndayirukiye S, Valton C. 2015. Atlas des Pays du Nord-Tanganyika. Marseille, IRD Editions.

Champaud J. 1983. Villes et campagnes du Cameroun de l’ouest. Paris, Éditions de l’ORSTOM.

Dongmo JL. 1981. Le dynamisme bamiléké (Cameroun). Yaoundé, CEPER, 2 vol.

Gascon A. 2006. Sur les hautes terres comme au ciel, identités et territoires en Éthiopie. Paris, Publications de la Sorbonne.

Hurni H, Ramamonjinson J. (eds.) 1999. African Mountain Development in a Changing World. Arusha, AMA and Tokyo, UNU.

Osmaston H, Tukahirwa J, Basalirwa C, Nyakaana J. (eds.) 1998. The Rwenzori Mountains National Park. Uganda, Makerere University.

Raison JP. 1981. Les Hautes Terres de Madagascar. Paris, Karthala, 2 vol.

Salami A, Kamara AB, Brixiova Z. 2010. Smallholder Agriculture in East Africa: Trends, Constraints and Opportunities. Tunis, Working Papers Series 105 African Development Bank.

Spear T. 1997. Mountain farmers, Moral Economics of Land & Agricultural Development in Arusha & Meru. Dar es Salaam, Mkuki na Nyota Publishers, Berkeley, University of California Press, Oxford, James Currey.

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. East African mountains
Légende Drawn by Joseph Buosi, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/1153/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 100k
Titre Figure 2. Mount Elgon
Légende Drawn by Joseph Buosi, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/1153/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 44k
Titre Figure 3. Mount Kenya
Légende Drawn by Joseph Buosi, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/1153/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 48k
Titre Figure 4. Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Meru
Légende Drawn by Joseph Buosi, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/1153/img-4.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 43k
Titre Figure 5. Uporoto Mountains
Légende Drawn by Joseph Buosi, University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès
URL http://books.openedition.org/africae/docannexe/image/1153/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 76k

Auteurs

Emeritus Professor, Bordeaux Montaigne University, UMRLAM (Les Afriques dans le Monde), Bordeaux (France), bartbart@orange.fr
François Bart conducted geographical studies mainly on tropical mountains. He was involved in multidisciplinary projects in East Africa, especially in Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania). He published about a hundred of scientific publications. His main topics are rural development and new rural-urban dynamics.

PhD holder in Environmental geography (Cape Town University) and a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Geography and Environmental Management, Makerere University, Kampala (Uganda), nakilezabob@gmail.com
His recent research and publication orientation is on dynamics in rural-urban interactions, eco-disaster risk reduction, socio-ecological systems and how this shapes the geographical space in rural and urban environments. He is an active member of Afromont.

© Africae, 2016

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