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Rural-Urban Dynamics in the East African Mountains

Sylvain Racaud
Bob R. Nakileza
François Bart
et al.

Part 5

Some New Drivers of Rural-Urban Linkages

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1The recent evolution of rural-urban linkages is strongly connected to new socio-economic drivers of change in both rural and urban areas, in the global economy and development issues as well. Moreover, the demographic structure is mainly characterized by the growing importance of youth aspirations, the increase of mobility and the distribution and spreading of new services from town to countryside. Therefore, this evolving context displays various facets: among others, diversification of rural activities, a growing range of urban services and tourism development, which may be profitable for both urban and rural population. The following three examples are about Central Kenya, which is strongly influenced by Nairobi’s urban metropolis.

2In those densely populated rural highlands, most smallholders attempt to benefit from the new opportunities of road transport, access to market and the use of TIC to diversify their sources of revenue, and to maintain, even to improve, their standard of living. In fact, the diversification of activities, especially in a rural context, is a more and more common key strategy to cope with risks and crises. This phenomenon is partly based on closer ties between rural and urban, mixing, in many households, urban and rural strategies.

3The first paper shows how agribusiness is the base of both rural and urban development in the Karatina area (one of the most important markets in East Africa), in Kikuyu land, close to Mt Kenya. Access to services is a major stake in rural development, but most of the services are in urban areas, although in some scattered population areas, which are quite numerous in East African mountains, it’s possible to find some social infrastructures, such as hospitals and secondary schools in the countryside, next to some parishes, which were established in the previous decades by Christian missionaries. Most of the rural population needs the urban services, dedicated to trade, health, financial issues and education, especially when development trends originate from agriculture and drive the urban development.

4In the second paper, the role of small and medium enterprises is pointed out in the same region of Mt Kenya. Those SME are located both in rural areas and in small-medium towns scattered along the highway Nairobi-Mt Kenya-Nyeri, which is a major artery between the main urban region of the country (Nairobi Metropolitan), and one of the most active agricultural (maize, coffee, tea) areas between Mount Kenya and the Aberdare Ranges.

5Furthermore, in Mt Kenya too, the third paper explores the linkages between mountain tourism and rural development. Mt Kenya in Kenya, Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, and many other mountains in the three countries -Mt Meru and Ngorongoro in Tanzania, Mt Elgon in Kenya and Uganda - become major touristic regions (trekking, safaris in National Parks). Tourism may be a significant instrument of development in rural areas (for instance, more and more guest houses and bed and breakfast accommodations in Kilimanjaro) and urban centres (travel agencies, hotels and restaurants, curio shops). To what extent is tourism a new way of diversification for rural and urban dwellers?

© Africae, 2016

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