(pdf) urbanization and urban growth in africa
Sub-Saharan Africa has had the lowest life expectancy levels and the slowest rate
of improvement. Consequently, life expectancy, which was 51 years during the
period 1990-95, is still considerably below that of the other developing-country
regions (Bongaarts, 1995). Sub-Saharan Africa will continue to lag in life expectancy
partially because the continent is severely impacted by the AIDS epidemic. There are
various projections regarding the negative impact of the disease on life expectancy.
Although the AIDS epidemic can be said to have had a limited impact in the
1980s, its impact will most certainly grow with the size of the epidemic and, in the
21 st century, mortality measures will be substantially affected (Bongaarts, 1995).
Based on projections for 15 African countries, the average life expectancy during
2000-05, with and without AIDS, is reduced by more than 6 years (57.7 minus 51.2)
and the death rate is higher by 2.9 deaths per 1,000 people (13.7 minus 10.8). The
population growth rate would also be lowered but growth is expected to remain high
as the birth rate would be basically unaffected. Under this scenario, in sub-Saharan
Africa as whole, the population growth rate would be reduced by only 0.1 percent
in 2000-05 (Bongaarts, 1995).
Mortality is the result of the interaction of three sets of factors affecting an
individual’s physical well-being. These are (1) public health services, such as im-
munization, which affect mortality regardless of individual behaviour; (2) health and
environmental services (for example, clean water), which reduce the costs of health
to individuals but require some individual response; and (3) an array of individual
characteristics, including both income, which affects health through food consump-
tion and housing, and education, which affects the speed and efficiency, with which
individuals respond to health and environmental services (Birdsall, 1980). Of these
three sets of factors affecting mortality, the benefits of the first have been more or
less fully harvested. Further mortality declines depend therefore on changes in indi-
vidual behaviour that are facilitated by increasing income and education and better
access to health services.
Africa is the only region in the world that is yet to experience significant re-
productive change. The total fertility rate for sub-Saharan Africa as a whole has
remained virtually unchanged at about 6.3 to 6.6 for the past 25 years. This is sig-
nificantly higher than in other regions and countries with similar levels of income,
life expectancy, female education, and contraceptive prevalence. In a few countries
in sub-Saharan Africa fertility has, in fact, increased while it has been declining
in the rest of the developing world (Cleaver and Schreiber, 1994). Nonetheless,
there are a few countries where there are encouraging signs of fertility decline.
The currently available literature, though not necessarily agreeing on the reasons
for such a change, demonstrates fertility declines in Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya,
Nigeria, Cote d’lvoire, Ghana, Mozambique, and Sudan, for example (Adamchak
and Mbizvo, 1993; Thomas and Mercer, 1995; Thomas and Muvandi, 1994; Ruten-