The ‘Ruralization’ of Urban Areas

City of Chaves (Trás-os-Montes)

City of Chaves (Trás-os-Montes)

It’s a statistic that is highlighted in all the urbanism conferences: for the first time in the history of the planet, the majority of the population lives in cities. In 2050, 70 percent of the population lives in urban areas. These figures are already a cliché since they are often repeated and a way to reveal the “importance” of the “cities”.

However, according to Sarah Goodyear, a specialist dedicated to the theme of cities and urbanism, “these statistics hide a deeper and more complex reality”. This reality shows that the distinction between urban and rural, between cities and suburbs and countryside, is disappearing as populations grow and traditional social structures dissolve. “The boundaries between different forms of life are blurring,” he says. This means that “urbanization” is currently different than it was in the past.

The distinction between urban and rural is disappearing

A somewhat provocative essay was published a few days ago in the “Future Capetown” and written by Beloved Chiweshe, that transforms the idea of urbanization in essence. Chiweshe, former secretary general of the Zimbabwe National Students Union, discusses what he calls the “ruralization of urban areas.” And he specifically points out to the hardness of this “ruralization” in regards to the female gender, especially in most African and Asian countries, where the cities are attracting people from isolated and remote regions who abandon their “ancestral” way of life in search of opportunities. Many of these people, mostly women, end up having a worse life and inhumane living conditions on the outskirts of cities, due to the population growth, they cease to have minimum conditions to maintain well-being, including citizens who already live there. There is water shortage, power failure, lack of food and lack of solutions to solve a human drama that underdeveloped countries are feeling as a result of globalization and the abandonment of fields and rural areas.

Meanwhile, in the Western world…

The reality is almost the same. Population flows are oriented to the cities and urban areas throughout the Western world, hence the importance of finding appropriate solutions in order to maintain a quality of life and livability within acceptable parameters of mankind and in particular for the Western citizen. The aim of cities is to discover these “smart” solutions that support the well-being of citizens both in their basic needs (water, electrical energy, food), and in the needs that are the origin of those flows (economy, employment, culture and education).

In the case of Portugal, we have been witnessing the abandonment of fields and of the countryside for decades. This phenomenon has brought problems to the cities along the coastline, which are now seeking to solve them, however, the central government policies must focus in the country’s interior, returning the rural life to urban areas, for example, promoting the emergence of suitable and strategic clusters (agro-industry, tourism, etc.) and simultaneously replicate the factors of attraction of cities, that in theory, serve firstly to attract population, secondly, to prevent its loss.

Esta publicação também está disponível em: Portuguese (Portugal)

About Vitor Pereira
Vitor Pereira

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After 20 years of Journalism and Media Professional, I'm dedicated since 2008 to new projects related with Innovation and Technology. Consultant of many municipalities to the Smart Cities theme and Tourism sector based on the newest technologies and communication tools.

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