2.35 million urbanites by 2041

Increased poverty and a lack of opportunities drives urban migration, along with climate change.

13 July 2018 | Local News

The worsening impacts of climate change are contributing to an increase in internal migration from rural to urban areas in Namibia, with the urban population expected to reach a whopping 2.35 million by 2041.

The key drivers of urbanisation are unemployment, rural poverty and loss of livelihood, which is attributed to natural hazards, among others.

At an estimated annual growth rate of 1.9%, Namibia's population is growing rapidly and the population is projected to be 3.59 million by 2041.

According to a report titled Migration, Environment and Climate Change in Namibia, the country is classified as one the nations in the world most vulnerable to climate change and natural hazards.

The report says that by 2041, Namibia's rural population is projected to be about 1.25 million or 35%, which reflects a significant decrease from 57.2% in 2011. In contrast, the urban population is projected to be about 2.35 million or 65%, indicating a significant increase from 42.8% in 2011.

The report says the country experiences significant agricultural production losses, while 70% of the population directly depend on food security for survival.

“The effects of climate change and natural hazards pose serious threats to the livelihood of communities and socioeconomic development at large.”

The report says due to increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, affected communities are forced to migrate from one area to another, mostly to escape drought-stricken or flooded areas or in search of water, grazing and arable land, in order to enhance their livelihood and survival.

It notes that climate change has increased the occurrence of droughts and floods, which negatively impacts on agricultural productivity and the livelihood of communities

According to the report Namibia's urban population increased from 42.8% in 2011 to 47.9% in 2016, while the rural population declined from 57.2% in 2011 to 52.1% in 2016, which reflects a high trend of rural to urban migration in the country.

At regional level, the Khomas has the largest share of the total population with 17.9%, followed by Ohangwena with 11% and Omusati with 10.8%. Omaheke had the smallest total share of population at 3.2%

“Across the world, urbanisation is taking place at an alarming rate and it is projected that by 2050, 66% of the world's population will be living in urban areas, and Namibia is no exception.”

Since attaining independence in 1990, Namibia has experienced a wave of urbanisation. In 1991, the urban population of Namibia stood at 28%, which rapidly increased to 33% in 2001, 42% in 2011 and 47% in 2016.

According to the report, urbanisation has resulted in the rapid expansion of informal settlements, causing a high demand for municipal services, such as water, sewerage and electricity, and increased poor housing conditions.

Windhoek reported that from 2012 to 2016, the rate of urbanisation was estimated at 4%, which exerts pressure on the city to provide housing and municipal services.

“However, due to the rate of influx, the city is unable to cope and the migrants are forced to settle in areas without municipal services, which further exposes them to harsh living conditions,” the report says.

Apart from Windhoek, other urban areas like Walvis Bay are experiencing similar urbanisation trends.

The report further adds that droughts have increased in the past ten years, a trend which meteorological reports attribute to shifts in the global circulation patterns and the El Niño effect.

“There is evidence that Namibia's temperature has been rising at three times the global mean temperature increases reported for the 20th century.”

Furthermore, it is predicted with a high degree of certainty that Namibia should expect an increase in temperatures of between 1°C and 3.5°C in summer and 1°C to 4°C in winter during the period 2046 to 2065.

The temperature increase has implications on water resources, evaporation, evapo-transpiration and agricultural productivity, which will impact on the livelihoods of people.

According to the report, when people normally do not have sufficient food and water (both for themselves and their livestock), they are forced to move in search of better livelihoods, which has an implication on internal migration.

“Natural hazards and climate change affect a wide range of social and ecological systems that are vital for the communities' livelihoods, which has a major implication on food security and leads to forced migration.”

It adds that with decreasing resilience and declining livelihoods, the affected communities are now forced to seek alternative homes, leading to increased internal migration, which fuels the rural-urban migration momentum.

ELLANIE SMIT

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