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One of the main challenges which Africa must take up at this crucial time of its development is that of feeding its people. The continent is known for its rich agricultural potential, which constitutes the major highlight of the economy in most of its countries. It is then difficult to believe that the continent is still in a race to reach a level of self-sufficiency. Unfortunately, such is the situation, and we ask ourselves millions of questions. In a country like Ghana, which is not exempt of such a situation, and where agriculture is the key sector of the economy, we wonder why rural areas are so underdeveloped, or why poverty seems to crack it and why young people are increasingly becoming rare in those areas. Moreover, we are lost as to the situation of products consumed by Ghanaians, which are mostly imported. The answer to these questions appears to be found in the substantial difference between living conditions in the urban and rural areas, which leads to the phenomenon of rural exodus. Rural-urban migration in Ghana reduces the development of agriculture, which deeply affects the economy.
After the colonial period, the black continent took up an effective development race for its countries. This is reflected in urbanization, and Ghana does not make an exception. With most businesses and activities being concentrated in Ghana's urban areas, rural areas tend to lack basic needs. It is then normal to see the youth fleeing those areas for the conquest of the city. They have, indeed, many valid reasons to leave rural areas for cities like Accra or Kumasi for example. The effects of an issue cannot be discussed without looking into its causes. Likewise, we cannot also talk about the effects of rural urban migrations without, even briefly, mentioning its causes.
Indeed, attracted by the beauty of the cities and its infrastructural developments, rural youth troop to the urban areas with the hope of finding a well-paid job and living a less stressful life. What's more, the intensity of agricultural works, which are accentuated by the use rudimentary tools and ancient agricultural techniques applied make them take flight. These agricultural works are mainly determined by climate; therefore, farmers are indulged in seasonal unemployment, which does affect their financial conditions as well as their living ones. In short, the youth leave rural areas in search of greener pastures. Nevertheless, with the massive arrival of rural dwellers into the city coupled with the issues they generate, the urban areas are quickly becoming agonized with certain effects of the migration. What are they?
The main effects of rural migration in Ghana are felt in the agricultural sector, which makes-up a big portion of the Ghanaian economy. The concentration of infrastructures in the city leading to the rural urban migration is making the countryside becoming more underdeveloped and devoid of strong energetic youth. The latter's presence being the fuel for development in the countryside; their departure negatively affects the area by pushing it deeper into underdevelopment. Indeed, the youth leave behind aged and infants who are not able to put much energy into the intricate work of farming, which constitutes most of the economic development of the area, and of the country as a whole ("Rural to Urban migration").
Consequently, the rarity of youth, that is, the labour hand in the countryside doesn't favor agricultural activities but rather brings both rural and urban dwellers deeper into poverty and starvation. Like Liebenow said in 1986: "The mass exodusâ€¦from the impoverished countryside leaves not only fewer hands to grow the nation's food but more mouths to feed" (Liebenow, qtd in Twumasi-Ankrah, 180-184). This quote shortly explains the dire effects of rural to urban migration on both the city and the countryside. With an increasing number of people leaving the rural areas, which happens to be the fertile grounds of development for any developing country, a limited number of labor forces begin to be felt as time goes by ("Rural to Urban migration"). Food production therefore becomes low, while there are more and more people in the urban areas who need to be fed. A report by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) indicates that a total of 1.2 million Ghanaians have limited access to sufficient and nutritious food throughout the year, while another 2 million are at risk, or become food insecure (Ghana News Agency, 1). It becomes
obvious that once the agricultural motor which is the labor hand is affected, the farming revenue too is attacked and is seriously decreasing. Agriculture has then a central role to play in promoting growth and poverty reduction in the Ghanaian economy at this stage of our development, and Ghana needs an agricultural revolution based on productivity growth; this will raise almost a million more Ghanaians out of poverty (Nankani, 2).
In agriculture-based countries in South Saharan Africa, like Ghana, agriculture accounts for 32 percent of GDP growth, mainly because it already is a large share of GDP (Nankani). Therefore, any mistake in farms is directly negatively affecting the whole economy of the country. Moreover, this situation favours the development of the agriculture of subsistence since farmers don't have adequate tools and conditions for a massive production. This type of agriculture production is on family scale, that is, not even enough to reach the city. Therefore, the country is no more able to export food supplies, but rather import them. The government, then, has to spend a lot of money trying to prevent its people from starvation. Such conditions slow down then Ghana in its process of becoming alimentary auto-sufficient.
In addition, developing countries usually have a limited number of social amenities to cater for their population. This situation worsens with an increasing number of people trooping from the rural areas to the urban areas. Usage of limited facilities increases. With such increases, facilities wear out quicker than expected, and this affects the economy by increasing costs for the government ("Rural to Urban migration").
An increase in the number of migrants does not only put pressure on limited facilities, but it also endangers the security of others when these migrants finally realize that the job markets are not suitable for them. With no job and no sources of income, rural migrants must make ends meet. The situation becomes a desperate one where people are ready to do anything to get money. Most migrants from rural areas then result to practices such as stealing, armed robbery, prostitution. Furthermore, since they cannot afford a decent shelter, they are likely to settle in what is popularly known as kiosks. Once started by one person, the trend follows. The area quickly becomes overcrowded with an atmosphere not worthy of living in ("Rural to Urban migration")
Other examples of migrants who end up engaging in any activity that would earn them some money are the 'Kayayos'. They are young women or girls who work as porters, carrying heavy loads on their heads (DiCampo, 1). They usually migrate from rural areas in the northern region to the bustling cities in the south (DiCampo, 1). These young girls and women usually get very little for the hard work they do. "I won't go back to that place. They are suffering there. If you don't have money, you suffer. You won't eat. At home, you can always cook and eat," said Amariya, a woman in her 20s who worked in Ghana's capital, Accra, until she had enough money to return to her village and marry (DiCampo, 1). This is the reality once in the city. Like Amariya, some of them choose to leave; others keep fighting for a better urban life and become exposed to many social vices that they further cultivate.
These people for example, with such instabilities in their lives are not able to send their children to school either in the countryside or in the city since such infrastructures are missing in the rural areas while they are expensive in town. In addition, we must not forget that rural to urban migration has devoid the countryside of teachers, a form of "brain drain" on the rural population (Twumasi-Ankrah). Rural-urban migration then, is an important factor of analphabetism which represents a danger for the future of the country, that is, the unavailability of elites to push the country forward in its development processes.
It is amazing to see how much these issues are slowly but surely affecting the country. It becomes obvious that something must be done to slow down this phenomenon. The countryside represents the power hands that feed a country and it needs to be developed, that is, to have infrastructures and good conditions of life to insure good productivity. The decentralization of the city then becomes an emergency for the survival of the country and the stability of its economic situation.
In conclusion, we can deduce from this analysis that the rural areas and urban areas are intrinsically related which besides has serious impacts on the Ghanaian economy. Rural migration is a realistic phenomenon, a real scourge that undermines the Ghanaian society and Africa as a whole, weakening at the same time the efforts for an effective development, which is mainly based on agriculture. The fact of the matter is that the rural youth desert the villages for the cities, and it creates many negative consequences for both the cities and the rural areas. It is then imperative that the government must take more effective actions in order to establish the lacking infrastructures, that is, to fix this ongoing problem. This seems to be the only way for the country to solve the problem, and to make effective steps towards development. Does the fact that rural urban migration is tearing Ghana mean that it doesn't have beneficial effects on both the city and the countryside?