A Study of Peri-Urban Areas as Sites for Understanding Urbanisation in Developing Countries: Using Nairobi Peri-Urban Areas as Base Case Study

Aggrey Daniel Maina Thuo


The process of urbanization majorly drives economic, social and physical change in developing countries such as those in Sub-Saharan Africa. Planet’s future is an urban one and that the largest and fastest growing cities are primarily in developing countries.   This rapid urban growth has led not only to an increasing demand for urban land, particularly for housing, but also for other various urban uses. The increasing demand for land is affecting peri-urban areas, where urban expansion is already encroaching into the agricultural lands and small villages. The conversion of agricultural land to urban uses is leading to rapid transformations in agricultural production, spatial structure, social structure, land ownership and land markets in the peri-urban areas.  Despite the importance of the peri-urban areas, it is still less understood especially in the context of developing countries. This paper argues that the dynamics at work in the peri-urban areas have not been fully captured, as they are often not visible until physical land conversion actually begins or takes place. It is at the peri-urban areas however that we can best understand the process of today’s urbanisation (especially in developing countries), land conversions and development, as well as the evolving conflicts over land uses.  It is also in the fringe where there is an opportunity to manage urban growth patterns before they get imprinted on the landscape.

Keywords: Urbanisation, Peri-urban areas, Land

DOI: 10.7176/DCS/10-10-05

Publication date:October 31st 2020


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ISSN (Paper)2224-607X ISSN (Online)2225-0565

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