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Rural exodus and urban activities in Africa

The activities of people migrating from rural to urban environments in Africa impact health. Watch Akuto Konou explain this with urban agriculture.
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In Africa, many people migrate from rural to urban locations. The steady flow of people is called rural exodus or rural migration. This form of migration has occurred throughout human history in various ways and intensities. As people migrate to urban areas, they bring with them activities that originated in the rural environment. These activities do not only shape African cities. The ties to a rural environment also impact urban health. People migrating from rural to urban locations contributes to the urban sprawl in Africa. Their migration is responsible for over half of the population growth in African cities. The migration changes the socio-cultural and economic environments of a city. It changes the lives of city dwellers in terms of knowledge, lifestyles, and income-generating activities.
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One transfer that results from the migration is urban agriculture. Rural immigrants need it as a means of subsistence. This also impacts the health conditions of city dwellers.
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To understand how, we need to look at different contexts. Urban agriculture supports food security or income generation. It may also threaten health due to pesticides, irrigation water, and the lack of drainage setups. Food consumption increasingly challenges urban resilience. Some believe the most effective way to reduce supply chains is to produce food locally or regionally. Urban agriculture can therefore ensure food security. However, the longer its production chains are, the more the food system is at risk, and the less food security goals are achieved. In urban agriculture, people also keep livestock. Close quarters enhance the risk of zoonosis. These are infectious diseases caused by pathogens that jump from animal to human. Urban agriculture thus can provoke foodborne diseases.
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So urban agriculture includes health hazards as well as benefits. Research indicates that advantages prevail and that urban agriculture impacts positively on the overall health of city dwellers. However, these findings are also debated. Let us hear what people say who are directly affected. I’ve asked urban farmers in Lomé, Togo, if they were rural migrants and what they thought were the benefits and health outcomes of agricultural activity in the city.
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Rural exodus displaces people from rural to urban areas. This displacement also affects their activities such as agriculture. The increase of agriculture in cities can have advantages as well as disadvantages, especially when it comes to urban health.
A steady migration brings people from rural locations to African cities. Their growing number gives rise to the phenomenon of urban agriculture. How does this impact the health of people living in the cities?

As Akuto Konou points out in this video, rural migration has many impacts. It adds to population growth and to urban sprawl, but also to the ascent of urban agriculture. There are benefits as well as health hazards to agricultural activities in the city.

After having watched the video, how would you evaluate benefits and health hazards? What do you think is the biggest benefit – and what is the biggest danger? We look forward to reading your comments!

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Examining African Contributions to Global Health

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