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Disadvantages and Advantages of Rural Areas

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The challenge of delineating rural activities from urban ones has long interested geographers and economists though interestingly it has been recognized that attempts to make clear demarcation between the two create more confusions than they solve. Nevertheless, the rural- urban issue has been widely accepted as a continuum in which evident distinctions can be made between the two extremes but where there is increased blurring towards the middle. Hence economists and philosophers have generalized other areas as being predominantly rural and others urban. It is therefore, the aim of this essay to assess whether the concept of philosophers and economists that Malawi is predominantly rural is an advantage or a disadvantage.

In the first place, being predominantly rural, Malawi remains the container of raw materials from which urbanized countries tap their resources. This stems from the background that most African countries have an agrarian economy. Even though they may not gain enough money out what they sell, developing countries are nonetheless involved in uplifting the economic status of urban centers, by supplying them with necessary resources (Abayo: 1999:45). In addition, a country primarily indulging in agriculture rarely faces a shortage and does not have to rely on imported sources for food production. With agriculture they can be self sufficient in crops, raw materials for clothing, livestock and dairy products.

It is also important to note that rural areas posses the natural beauty unlike urban areas. According to Abayo (1999:102) most rural areas still have their natural outlook...as they do not have enough machinery and capital for exploitation. Inadvertently, this unexploited natural environment makes the rural areas look even more beautiful and attractive to tourists. In Malawi for example there are so many beautiful and attractive sceneries that have not been exploited and yet they are a source of attraction to tourists. Places such as Nyika plateau, Mulanje Mountain remain pillars of tourism because of their physical nature. On the other hand, devastating effects of development have left some urban areas scarred and disfigured. That is why even in most urbanized countries such as England economists have tried to improve living standards by other means such as improved agriculture other than heavy industrialization that results into disfigurement of the environment Allen and Thomas (2000:509).

Note should also be taken that rural areas experience reduced levels of pollution. Since rural areas are dominantly agrarian with few or no manufacturing industries the chances of pollution are minimal. Allen and Thomas (2000) stress that as countries industrialize there will be large increase in pollution particularly the atmospheric pollution which has been claimed will cause catastrophic climate change. This increase in atmospheric pollution is attributed to increase in energy generation through burning coal, oil or gas in the developed world. In the same way Waugh () pointed out that pollution of air by smoke from cars, and pollution of rivers and other water resources by effluents from factories has been a growing concern in most urban areas.

Similarly, a rural area is advantageous because people are mostly self-sufficient. Typically there is room for a vegetable garden and a few domestic farm animals, such as chickens, goats or pigs, which can provide fresh produce and protein staples year-round which is had to find in urban area. In a related development, Baeward and Fraser (1993) noted that most rural areas have an excess of specialists on all things to be grown and eaten, whether of the crop or crop variety. This is cheap as people have to rely even in hard time on what they already have in their homestead. In Malawi items such as seeds and fertilizer can be easily bought because of the government's core food-security-related Farm Input Subsidy Programme, which is intended to insulate farmers from escalating input costs and hence stimulate domestic maize production on which many rural poor Malawians depend.

Furthermore, living costs can be significantly less in rural



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