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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Rural-urban migration as an aspect of regional development policy : Jamaica examined as a case study Adolphus, Blossom


The purpose of the study is to substantiate and document the notion that a comprehensive planning policy for integrated socio-economic development aimed at solving the underlying problems of the rural "push" factors would yield more effective solutions to rural-urban migration as a generic issue in developing regions than measures already proposed in these regions. The premise was examined within the context of the existing Government measures geared to make rural living more attractive in the developing country of Jamaica, West Indies. Based on a review of rural-urban migration in Latin America, of which Jamaica is a part, it is indicated that the movement has reached unprecedented levels. The impoverished economic and social conditions of the countryside are real as evidenced by the ever increasing flow of rural-urban migration mainly to one urban area. The cities are unable to employ all their inhabitants and consequently various measures of raising the level of rural living have been introduced. In Latin America the principal focus has been on land tenure and colonization but these have always fallen short of their aim. Such schemes need groupings of people into urban centres for their success. Bolder attempts at coordination of measures at the national and local level are vital. The case study of Jamaica reveals that rural to urban migration has become an increasingly important phenomenon. The main currents have meant a movement to the Kingston and St. Andrew Metropolitan Area. However, the rate and volume of the movement far exceed the current absorptive capacities of this area and this has created problems pertaining to under-employment, housing shortages and certain social ills. Faced with these problems, the Government of Jamaica has, since 1938, initiated measures to halt the growing trek of rural population to the city. The Land Settlement scheme involving the distribution of small plots of land to the rural population, previously introduced in the l880’s, was vigourously pursued after 1938. Since the 1940's, however, the main area of concentration of policy switched to measures for rehabilitation of the hillsides and improvements with the land. These have been implemented through the Farm Improvement Scheme, 1947; the Land Authorities Law, 1951; the Farm Recovery Scheme, 1951; the Farm Development Scheme, 1955; the Agricultural Development Programme, I960 and the Farm Production Programme in 1963. Improvements to the social environment have been mainly through the Social Development Commission and the 4-H Clubs. While the schemes have been instrumental in increasing total area under cultivation they have been far from successful in raising rural levels of living with the aim of controlling rural-urban migration. They were only concerned with issues relating to the land with insufficient thought for the people who occupied that land. The attempts made by the Social Development Commission have achieved little, if any, success in stemming rural flows. This thesis reveals a formidable gap between these government measures and what rural Jamaica requires. The needs of the latter are non-agricultural in nature and revolve about the provision of modest urban services which have become a normal feature of daily living. It is concluded that this could be achieved through a system leading to the "rurbanization" of rural Jamaica—a process that would create an urban environment but at the same time would not be truly urban. All the basic services and amenities would be provided and concentrated in selected existing centres. These "rurban" centres arranged in an integrated manner would have advantages that would serve to facilitate the transformation of rural areas into stable societies, and in addition assist the process of modernization which Jamaica is now undergoing. For best results the island must be divided into regions. It is concluded that the Town Planning Department of Jamaica should guide the physical planning of these settlements as it is already charged with the necessary powers. The solution has implications not only for Jamaica but also for other developing regions. Plans for rural reconstruction aimed at curbing rural-urban migration in these areas need to give a more prominent place to basic urban factors than has been customary in the past. An urban environment is necessary for the modernization process the regions are now pursuing.

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