Urbanization in Ethiopia brings opportunity for the communities if it is managed properly, scholars said.Civil Service University Urban Development and Engineering College Dean, Daniel Lirebo told ENA that the number of urban centers with 2,000-20,000 population in Ethiopia is increasing.
These can become centers of science, innovation and create employment opportunities, if managed properly, he added. “Unfortunately, most cities and towns in our country are not properly managed since they are not led by urban plan. Taking Addis Ababa as an example, it is becoming difficult to solve urban related problems in the city,” the dean noted.
Old cities of Ethiopia like Addis Ababa were established without master plan. They were villages that evolved into towns and later on to big cities, Daniel stated.The renovation of old cities is also creating economic and social hurdles among the communities.The dean appreciated the initiation of the present government in commissioning master plans for newly emerging towns. He suggested that the government provides basic services for consumption, planned settlement and develop infrastructures for towns and cities.
Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development Department Chairperson, Berhanu Woldetensae said better employment, education and health as well as infrastructural expansions come with urbanization, despite challenges. “As urbanization is inevitable development that attracts more labor force from the countryside due to expansion of industrial parks and other developments,” he noted.
According to Berhanu, the rural-urban and urban-urban migration in the country has created uneven urban population distribution in the cities which resulted in disparity between urban population growth and expansion of basic facilities and services for the population.
He pointed out that horizontal expansion of urbanization of the country has also impacted on reducing agricultural productivity and diminish the green areas of the country by annexing large amount of fertile agricultural lands into cities and towns.Vertical urban expansion, strong urban planning management, promoting structured urban planning, enhancing human resource and financial capital of cities and towns, involving the public in the process of urban planning and design are fundamental for integrated urban development in the country, the chairperson suggested.
Urban Development and Housing Ministry Public Relations and Communication Head, Ethiopia Bedecha said the government has already launched integrated and planned urban development programs through enhancing public awareness and capacity building of relevant bodies.Stating the presence of over 2000 urban centers in the country, he added that most of them lack urban planning and sufficient infrastructure and facilities. He noted that the ministry is working on resolving basic challenges in the urban centers of the country.
“The ministry is introducing urban planning to cities and towns, which were established without plans. Each regional urban planning institute in states is organized to run urban plans to be effective in cities and towns of the country,” the head stated.
It is also working on promoting green and clean urban development by creating beautiful and suitable cities with financial and material support of international financial organizations like World Bank and United Nations Development Program (UNDP), he added.
More than 20 percent of the population in Ethiopia lives in urban centers.