Rural Depopulation: The Planning Implications For The Development Of Urban Lagos

This paper investigates the challenges posed by cities in developing countries, particularly Lagos urban area otherwise called Lagos megacity against the backdrop of rural and even urban exodus from different parts of the country into it. Using mainly secondary data, the paper x-rayed the genesis of rural –urban migration and rural depopulation and implications to planning and managing a typical large urban city in developing countries such as Lagos megacity.  The impacts of the growth of Lagos and other cities on rural areas were also discussed. The paper observed that Lagos was not prepared for its status as a megacity in terms of planning frameworks, institutional apparatus, infrastructure level, and indeed on all aspects that make a megacity to be an engine of growth for its immediate areas and the country as a whole, apart from its sheer huge population. Following the demographic trends, it is suggested that a thorough hierarchical organization of human settlements in the country is made and a deliberate planning and management policy to guide the development of the different level of human settlements. The paper finally submitted that there is need for proper understanding of concepts and rigorous analysis of the challenges, appropriate technologies and relevant information, political will, cooperation and sundry participation to be able to manage the Lagos megacity. 

KEY WORDS: Urbanization, Depopulation, rural, urban, megacity, Planning, Management 

The process of urbanization continues to be more rapid and massive, challenging and affects a greater part of the world than ever before. The move from mainly rural society to an urbanized world has also impacted on all aspects of human lives. In 1950 less than one third of the human race were living in cities, but by 2025, it is expected that two-thirds will live in cities and 90 percent of this will be living in the cities of developing countries (Kante, 2004). 

The migration of hundreds of millions of rural folks to cities in these still predominantly agrarian countries is the result of both institutional and structural changes caused by economic growth and this is revolutionizing the life of humanity just as are the other major aspects of economic and social modernization.This rush to the cities, caused in part by the attraction of opportunities for wealth generation and economic development, has created the phenomenon of ’megacities’ that have a population of over 10 million. This incredibly rapid growth of megacities causes severe ecological, economical and social problems. It is increasingly difficult to manage this growth in a sustainable way. It is recognised that over 70% of the growth currently happens outside of the formal planning process and that 30% of urban populations in developing countries live in slums or informal settlements, where vacant state-owned or private land is occupied illegally and used for illegal slum housing (Kelly, 2011).

Indeed, leaders in developing countries see urbanization as a product of distorted policies that favour city growth and produces ‘urban elites’ thereby encouraging excessive migration to the cities, and in the process creating an army of unproductive and underemployed informal workers (Yunusa, 201I).The unprecedented rates of over-all population growth due to natural increase, rural-urban migration and city expansion are helping to swell the populations of individual cities more than ever before as a result, significant social, cultural, economic, and political problems are being created in the cities. This is because, where urbanization in the developed countries went hand in hand with infrastructure development, economic growth and improved welfare, this is not the case with developing countries,where rapid urban growth in these countries is both a problem for both cites and depopulating rural areas (Kante, 2004, Nanavati, 2004).

Currently, about 48% of Nigerians live in urban centres (FGN, 2010). Modern urbanization in Nigeria has been dominated by the growth of a single primate city, the political and commercial hub of the nation, Lagos. Rural - urban migration from other parts of the country into Lagos has been the major determinant for this high rate of urban population growth resulting in proliferation of slums and squatter settlements, high rate of unemployment, etc. It is estimated that between 20 and 80 % of urban growth in developing countries is informal, usually inhabited by the low-income people (Nwanna, 2012). Without secure access to land and the means of production, the paradigm of daily survival compels the poor, due to circumstances beyond their control or influence, to live within short- term horizons that degrade resources and fuel a downward spiral of poverty. These informal settlements have over time evolved informal systems of land tenure relations and management in spite of the state -sponsored land tenure law in Nigeria.

In the particular of Lagos area in Nigeria, it is evident that the promising geographical location of the region for games, fishing and farming; the security provided by the creeks, swamps and lagoons; and the prosperity which the road and water networks promises all made the progenitors of the various migrating groups to make Lagos their last resort (Ajetunmobi, Osiyale and Omotere, 2013) and form the basis of what Lagos is today.

Oladayo Ramon IBRAHIM
Department of Urban and Regional Planning,
School of Environmental Studies,
Lagos State Polytechnic,
Ikorodu, Lagos
Tel; 234-80-2323-9147 Email : [email protected]

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Ugwu, A. (2018). Rural Depopulation: The Planning Implications For The Development Of Urban Lagos. Afribary. Retrieved from

MLA 8th

Ugwu, Anderson "Rural Depopulation: The Planning Implications For The Development Of Urban Lagos" Afribary. Afribary, 29 Jan. 2018, Accessed 23 Jul. 2024.


Ugwu, Anderson . "Rural Depopulation: The Planning Implications For The Development Of Urban Lagos". Afribary, Afribary, 29 Jan. 2018. Web. 23 Jul. 2024. < >.


Ugwu, Anderson . "Rural Depopulation: The Planning Implications For The Development Of Urban Lagos" Afribary (2018). Accessed July 23, 2024.