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Asia, Africa See Faster Urbanisation than Rest of the World

UNITED NATIONS, Jul 10 2014 (IPS) - Asia and Africa are seeing a faster pace of urbanisation than the rest of the world and the trend is expected to continue, posing challenges for governments to provide public services and manage migration issues.

All regions in the world will further urbanise in the next decades, in which Asia and Africa, now accounting for nearly 90 percent of the world’s rural population, will be home to most of the urbanisation process, the United Nations said in its 2014 World Urbanisation Prospects report released here.

Nearly 64 percent of Asians and 56 percent of Africans will live in cities by 2050, an increase from today’s 48 percent and 40 percent respectively, according to the report. India now has the largest rural population in the world, with 850 million people.

The ongoing urbanisation trend requires governments worldwide to plan for and manage the changes in population distribution and migration, said John Wilmoth, Director of the Population Division of the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

“The thing to be afraid of is the situation in which governments do not plan for the growth that’s going to take place, then you can get sprawl and slumps,” he said. “It’s very important to anticipate the growth that’s going to take place.”

The world’s urban population exceeded the rural one for the first time in 2007 and today around 54 percent of global population live in cities. The ratio is expected to increase to 66 percent by 2050, the U.N. said.

Tokyo is the world’s largest cities with around 38 million people, followed by Delhi with 25 million and Shanghai’s 23 million, according to the report.

The U.N. has also urged countries to produce extensive and better quality data on their population trends, which would help them to better manage urbanisation issues and ensure sustainable development.

“Accurate, consistent and timely data on global trends in urbanisation and city growth are critical for assessing current and future needs with respect to urban growth and for setting policy priorities to promote inclusive and equitable urban and rural development,” it said.

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