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Geography

Changes in rural areas - LEDCs

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When people migrate from rural areas in LEDCs [LEDC: A Less Economically Developed Country (LEDC) has low levels of development, based on economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ] to urban centres in search of work, there are some positive but often negative impacts on rural communities. Sustainable development is a key way to enable rural communities to thrive.

Changes in rural areas - LEDCs

Key changes

The changes which are happening in rural areas in LEDCs are very important. This is because the majority of the population live in rural areas. The countries which have the highest percentage of rural population are those which are the poorest. The land is used to feed the people both in towns and rural areas - LEDCs import [import: A good or service which enters a country. ] less food from other countries than MEDCs [MEDC: A More Economically Developed Country (MEDC) has high levels of development based on economic indicators such as gross domestic product (the country's income). ]. This means that changes in rural areas in LEDCs are important.

Rural to urban migration

Rural push factors [push factors: Factors that encourage people to leave the place in which they live and to move elsewhere. ] (such as low wages) and urban pull factors (such as better jobs) cause rural to urban migration.

Positive results

  • The migrants are able to send money home.
  • With more money from the urban workers, school fees may be paid or livestock bought.

Negative results

  • It is often the young males who move - the remaining family may be less physically able to carry out heavy tasks.
  • With the absence of the young males, children may have to work on the farm, rather than going to school.

Subsistence farming to cash crops

Slash and burning of tropical rainforest, Amazon Basin, Brazil

Slash and burning of tropical rainforest, Amazon Basin, Brazil

Land which was growing subsistence crops [subsistence: Farming which produces food only for the farmer's dependents. ] is turned into commercial agricultural land for cash crops [cash crops: Crops grown commercially for profit. ].

This can have positive impacts which include:

  • The country has a greater source of income.
  • There are jobs generated for workers.

Negative impacts

  • Less land is available to grow food to feed the local population.
  • Water supplies may be used up on cash crops [cash crops: Crops grown commercially for profit. ].
  • Fertiliser [fertiliser: A substance added to the soil to increase the soil fertility. ] may enter the local water supply.
  • Rates of soil erosion [soil erosion: Loss of topsoil due to wind, water or deforestation. ] increase.
  • Local ecosystemsecosystem: A community of animals, plants and microorganisms, together with the habitat where they live. may be damaged

Population increase

The rate of natural increase [natural increase: The natural growth of a population due to the number of births exceeding deaths. ] is high in many areas. This puts pressure on the food supply. This leads to malnutrition and starvation. It also encourages rural to urban migration.

Hazards and diseases

AIDS and other epidemics [epidemic: A rapidly spread disease or infection, which affects many people. ] raise the death rate. Wars also raise the death rate. This means that there are fewer older people to work on the fields to produce food.

Environmental degradation

As people seek to gain food and income from the land, more vulnerable land is used. The processes of desertification and deforestation mean the environment degrades. Clearing forests, such as in the Amazon Rainforest, causes many problems such as soil erosion and loss of the ecosystemecosystem: A community of animals, plants and microorganisms, together with the habitat where they live..

Globalisation of tourism

Some rural areas attract tourists. The Maasai Mara in Kenya is one area which attracts tourists on safari [safari: A journey taken to observe animals. ]. This brings money into the area and may help improve local infrastructure [infrastructure: The basic structures needed for an area to function, for example roads and communications. ]. However the money spent by tourists does not always go back to the local economy.

These changes can make rural areas more vulnerable and trigger a cycle of decline.

Diagram showing the LEDC cycle of decline

Diagram showing the LEDC cycle of decline

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