Urban Development in OIC Countries
Date: 16 December 2019

SESRIC has launched the report on “Urban Development in OIC Countries: Towards Sustainable Urbanization” that discusses the current state of urbanization in OIC countries while highlighting main factors leading to increase in urbanization. The report also underlines the impacts of urbanization and assesses some critical issues related to urban development in OIC member countries, such as human mobility in different forms and environmental pressures and urban resilience. The report concludes with a discussion on sustainable management of urbanization and presents relevant policy recommendations.

The findings of the report highlight that there is a shift in speed of urbanization from developed world towards developing one. In the last decade, with over 3% of annual urbanization rate, the OIC member states as a group are urbanizing faster than non-OIC developing countries, and hosting around 22% of global urban population. The OIC population in urban areas grew by near 497 million people between 1990 and 2016. However, in 2016 only 31 OIC countries had a population that is over 50% urban. Uganda, Niger, Chad, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Comoros, Guyana and Burkina Faso are in the list of world’s 20 least urbanized places. Yet, with growing urbanization, by 2050, 68.2% (1.7 billion) of the OIC’s population is expected to live in urban areas.

Although large OIC cities such as Cairo, Dhaka, Karachi, Istanbul and Lagos serve as magnets for millions of people, who are in search of better livelihood opportunities, the fastest growing urban centres are the small and medium cities. The number of cities with half a million people or more reached from 14 in 1950 to 202 in 2015, and is expected to increase to 343 by 2035. Batam (Indonesia), Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso), Nnewi (Nigeria), Abomey-Calavi (Benin) and Bamako (Mali) are among fastest growing OIC cities in terms of population, all of them growing over 6% annually.

In 2018, average population density (per square kilometre) of 217 large OIC cities was 6,501 persons, double than the average population density in 217 large urban areas of developed countries (2,980 persons), but significantly less than the average population density of 630 large urban areas in non-OIC developing world (8,688 persons). Between 1999-2003 and 2010-2015 periods, the expansion of urban land (40%) outpaced the growth of urban population (31%) in randomly selected 42 OIC cities located in different regions. This finding shows that non-compact urban expansion has been guiding city planners over years. OIC cities on average are less dense as they grow, causing unplanned urban sprawl, where informality is becoming more common over time.

Since the rate at which populations and land cover are becoming urban is faster than at any other time in history, the conversion of land from rural to urban should be guided by effective policies, in harmony with sound municipal plans or regulations. Integrated urban development should be adopted in compact cities and transit-oriented development, which advocates the management of the peripheral expansion of cities in the interest of more compact cities with higher density and employment densities can reduce energy consumption, vehicle miles travelled, CO2 emissions, as well as save land for agriculture, wildlife and habitat by using less land for urban development.

Online Electronic Version

  • Urban Development in OIC Countries: Towards Sustainable Urbanization (English)