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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Population redistribution : an aspect of urbanization and settlement policy in Jamaica Jacques, Alfonso Fitz-Henley

Abstract

Urbanization as it affects the developing countries is one of the critical problems facing Jamaica today. The major urban centre, Kingston, is unable to cope with the many and varied problems introduced by the increasing number of people who are migrating from rural areas with the hope of finding a "better life" in the big city. However, its unhealthy magnetic power persists, draining the other areas of the country of the better educated, more ambitious, wealthier, as well as the less fortunate people, leaving these areas little developed and depriving the country as a whole of some of the greater social and economic potentials. The quest for a livelihood among Jamaicans, having commenced from as early as the 1380's, also encouraged significant portions of the population to migrate to foreign countries in search of employment even from such early times. Studies show that even this emigration has been largely unsuccessful. Although the migrants may realize a regular (though small) money income at their destinations they often fail miserably to be desirably absorbed in the social and economic structures of the various societies to which they migrate - they have even descended steeply from the social status which they enjoyed at home. On the basis of the above, It is contended that if Jamaica is to achieve its goals of social and economic stability, the full national inventory of human and natural resources has to be mobilized into a process of regional development. A new process of urbanization is necessary, that is, an "ordered, guided, and purposeful" approach to this phenomenon. The fundamental needs for which the population is in constant search namely: social and economic security, and the full range of services and amenities are more feasibly provided at the urban level, therefore, any development contemplated should take place in urban areas. Puerto Rico has successfully demonstrated that an acute population and urbanization problem, can be resolved by a determination to resolve it, and by careful planning. To achieve a balanced distribution of the population in Jamaica and an equitable distribution of the social services and the wealth, all areas of the island should be included In the new urbanization process. The urban areas, in order to produce aggregate efficiency should be coordinated within regional systems. Investigation of alternative regional systems of communities including the primate city hierarchy, the central place system, and the multi-nucleated system indicates that all exhibit characteristics of incompatibility with the island and would have to be subject to modifications in order to be adopted. Other determinants of location were investigated Including theories of industrial location, transportation, incidence of natural resources, occurrence of existing urban centres, and the surface configuration of the island. It is, concluded that the urban centres displaying certain potentials conducive to industrial-location (industrialization is the chosen mode for development) are to be selected for development along with other areas which the government should provide with the Industrial climate. With respect to development implementation, planning and development are considered more effective if executed at the regional level. There is a tendency for national planning to neglect the small urban centre, while planning at the local level poses severe administrative problems as well as the probability of gross aggregate inefficiency introduced by the potential rivalry between various local units. Planning and development are also deemed more effective if situated close to the source of power. The Prime Minister's office seems to be the most suitable arm of government to which this should be attached. In order to avoid the inflexibilities of the civil service which retards efficiency, it is suggested that a Jamaica Development Corporation should be formed. This is to be an autonomous body created by and accountable to the Prime Minister and charged with the function of identifying regional needs and executing regional planning and development techniques in the best interest of the country. The Corporation could be realized through a merger of the present Jamaica Industrial Development Corporation and the Jamaica Town Planning Department which should toe dissolved after its tasks are accomplished and proper provision is made for constant review. The hypothesis of the study is considered to toe generally valid.

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