Characteristics of Ethiopian Peri-Urbanization: The Case of Bahir Dar, Northwestern Ethiopia
During the second half of the twentieth century, urban growth shifted to peri-urban areas. Peri-urban areas are located between urban and rural areas and have both rural and urban characteristics. The process of peri-urbanization presents both opportunities and challenges. The objective of this study was to investigate the defining characteristics of Bahir Dar’s peri-urbanization process. Primary data collected from peri-urban households, in-depth interviews, key informant interviews, and field observations were used in the study. Quantitative data was collected from 240 study participants selected using systematic random sampling while qualitative data was collected from 15 informants selected using purposive sampling. The qualitative data were analyzed thematically, while the quantitative data used descriptive and inferential statistics. The results show that Bahir Dar’s peri-urbanization is characterized by a shift in demographic composition, emergence of new economic activities, and mixed use of land. Bahir Dar’s peri-urban areas are home to locals and people who come from all over the country. The industrial and service sectors which previously were nonexistent are emerging as main features of the peri-urban landscape. The results further show that land is used for multiple activities, including for residential, commercial, and recreational purposes. Therefore, peri-urban areas are transforming in demographic, economic, and spatial terms. To harness these areas’ potential for further development and minimize negative effects, it is wise that the government develop a peri-urban policy. The city’s master plan needs to be developed in consideration of its peri-urban areas.