Creating opportunities will curb “city obesity” in East Africa
It is the same script every year. Millions of major cities residents in East Africa return home for christmas and other festive seasons to spend time with their loved ones, leaving the cities virtually empty and their normally congested streets free flowing. That situation, however, is short lived when the residents return to the city, often bringing with them friends and family members from the village with most of them promised better lives.A study conducted recently estimated cities across East Africa population to spike by 1,000,000 by 2017 as new arrivals make their way to the capital cities and other developed towns in search of employment and a better life with up to 200,000 newcomers expected to arrive in major towns, but roughly 45,000 will likely return home within six months. Last year, estimated 300,000 newcomers arrived in the capital cities in Kigali in Rwanda, Dar Es Salaam, commercial capital in Tanzania, Nairobi in Kenya and Kampala in Uganda and stayed permanently according to the study’s finding. Ahead of festive seasons, authorities always urge city dwellers to avoid bringing back newcomers, especially those without proper education papers or guaranteed employment.
East African secretariat officials based in Arusha Tanzania are working closely with rural development agencies across the region to discourage urban migration. The report cited least developed areas as the one that have historically been significant sources of major cities bound migration.In conclusion, the research found large number of newcomers places enormous stress on the cities public services and infrastructure. Already stretched, the cities government in East Africa have to provide costly services to immigrants who come to the capital looking for jobs. Unless the situation changes, this trend will continue, as people look for work in the cities that accounts for 90 percent of the four countries economies.The only way to stop this trend is to create new pockets of growth in other parts of the countries especially in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. For this to happen, the central governments must work with local bureaucrats to create jobs and encourage investment so that people can find opportunities at home, rather than in cities.