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Urban Sprawl in sub-Saharan Africa: A review of the literature in selected countries

Gerald Albert Baeribameng Yiran
Austin Dziwornu Ablo
Freda Elikplim Asem
George Owusu


Urban sprawl has gained popularity in academic discourse in recent times, but the majority of the research was conducted in developed countries. There is a marginal body of works on the character and nature of urban sprawl in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), although the region is
experiencing one of the fastest rates of sprawl. Urbanisation in SSA is very rapid, and in addition to the emerging challenges of globalisation, climate change and poverty, SSA cities have an enormous task to manage urban sprawl. This paper reviews the literature on urban sprawl in SSA
to identify research gaps and propose a research agenda. Published articles from five Anglophone countries in three of the four regional blocks in SSA were selected. The literature was organised into the causes and effects of urban sprawl and showed that the previous research on the subject
focused mainly on its environmental impacts. Few studies have looked at the effects of sprawl on rural livelihoods, agriculture and food security considering the challenges of global climate change and poverty. Other studies have used Remote Sensing and Geographic Information
Systems, but these were conducted largely for change detection. The paper recommends the deployment of a more comprehensive methodology incorporating remote sensing/GIS with ethnographic methods to capture better the complexity and impacts of urban sprawl in SSA.
Additionally, further research attention must be paid to the effects of urban sprawl on rural livelihoods and overall sprawl-induced agrarian change.

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eISSN: 2821-8892
print ISSN: 0855-9414