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The Study of Social Consequence of Urbanization in Male’

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One of the most pressing development issues faced by the Maldives is the uneven spatial distribution of population. This has manifested in two related problems: firstly, relative depopulation of the already small populations on some islands, and secondly, overurbanisation of the capital Male'. Urbanisation can be attributed mainly to internal migration as a result of income inequalities between Male' and other islands and urban bias in the availability of economic opportunities and provision of services.

Urban transformation has brought with it significant socio-economic, environment and health problems. One of the most pressing social consequences of rapid urbanisation is housing congestion and the lack of adequate housing for the growing urban population. This has not manifested in the development of slums as seen in other developing countries and island states, but has created a number of negative factors that affect the livelihoods of urban residents such as economic vulnerability, family break-up, violence and substance abuse amongst the youth.

The social problems of urbanization have important developmental and policy implications for the Maldives and other small island states. However, there is a lack of adequate research in this area. This is especially the case with the Maldives. The research that exists does not explore the dynamics of the urban transformation process and its impact on issues of housing, poverty, hardship, crime and violence. Furthermore, existing research ignores issues of poverty which appear insignificant in Maldives when viewed against conventional poverty line analysis of poverty. However, poverty and hardship are significant issues in Male' and these need to be looked at from a livelihood perspective. The proposed research addresses the general lack of research on these aspects, especially of the social dimensions of urban transformation. It intends to fill a gap in the development literature of island states through an analysis of the impact of urbanisation on the social aspects of livelihoods in Male’.

A8- Research methodology (word limit: 500 words) / (15 marks)

The findings and recommendations in this proposal are based on a literature review of secondary sources. Due to this reason I have not use the questioner or any other tools to collect primary data. These sources include: To identify ways in which urbanization has impacted livelihoods, especially in relation to housing, youth violence, overcrowding and youth and drug abuse.

The problems of spatial development is manifested in the relative depopulation of already small populations on some islands and over urbanization of the capital Male’. In Maldives as in other small island developing states , internal migration and growth of a large urban centre (Male’) can be attributed to spatial inequality due to urban bias in the availability of economic opportunities and provision of services and income disparities between Male’ and other atolls. While there is some amount of inter-atoll migration, Male’ is the main destination for both temporary and permanent migration in the Maldives. Historically Male’ has been the centre of trade and administration. The advent of tourism in 1972 further increased the economic importance of Male’. Almost all the resorts that opened in the early phase of tourism development were located in Kaafu atoll, where Male’ is located. At present more than 43 percent of all the resorts are located in Kaafu atoll. The growth of tourism and the service sector contributed to the remarkable economic growth witnessed by the country in the 1980s. The development of the tourism sector around Male’, the rapidly expanding government sector operations in Male’ and setting up of major education and health facilities in the capital city created significant disparities between Male’ and other islands, which contributed to a large influx of migrants since the mid-1970s.

Figure 1 below shows the growth of Male’ population as a percentage of the total population. When the first census was undertaken in 1911, Male’ accounted for about 7.25 percent of the total population of the country. By 1965, this figure had risen to 20.67 percent. By 1985 every 1 in 4 people were living in the capital. The growth in Male’ population coincided with the onset of tourism as seen by the sudden increase in the share of population from 11.15 percent in 1965 to 20.6 percent by 1977.According to the 2006 census about 1/3 of the country’s population were living in the capital. In 1931, migrants constituted about 17 percent of Male’ population. By 1985, the figure was almost 50 percent and remains at that level at the time of the 2006 census enumeration. According to the 2006 census the average annual growth rate of Male’ was 5.59 percent, compared to -0.06 percent in atolls. The national average was 1.69 percent

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The problem of drug abuse has reached alarming proportions with estimates of about 30,000 drug users in the country, many of them in Male’. According to police records, drug offences had increased by over 500% and violent crimes by 200% between 2001 and 2007 in Male’. One of the most significant statistics in this context is the increase in the number of juveniles arrested for drug offences and violent crime over the 6 year period. In 2001 Police made only 16 juvenile arrests for drug offences. By 2007 the figure was 164. The respective figure for violent crime was 17 and 160. It is possible that the actual number of juveniles and adolescents engaged in these activities will be much higher as a number of cases goes unreported or are not investigated . A rapid assessment survey of the drug situation undertaken in 2003 found that 48 percent of key informants believed that the primary reason for drug abuse in Male’ was family problems (NCB 2003). The congested living conditions in many households mean that young people spend most of their time outside the house resulting in group affiliations and gang violence. Since 2005, Male’ has seen a rise in gang related fighting which has claimed lives. Since December 2007, five young people have been killed in gang-related violence and in April the army had to be mobilized in Male’ to stop incessant fighting between gangs.

A9- References / (5 marks)

Ministry of Planning and National Development and UNDP, 2004, Vulnerability and Poverty Assessment II accessed from:

Ministry of Planning and National Development, Household Income and Expenditure Survey 2002-2003 accessed from http://www.frdp-


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