Sri Lanka urbanisation higher than thought: World Bank

ECONOMYNEXT – Urbanisation in Sri Lanka is higher than officially estimated with almost half the people living in areas that have urban characteristics, a new World Bank report shows.

“This is a country almost close to boundary of 50 percent of urbanisation like the rest of world,” said Ede Jorge Ijjasz-Vasquez, senior director of the World Bank.
 
Official statistics on urbanisation using narrow municipal limits to show urbanisation are very different from what a new World bank study has found, he told a forum where the report was launched.

While statistics show only 40 percent of Sri Lankans live in cities and with municipal councils, when urban agglomeration units are considered about 47 percent of the people are urbanised, Ijjasz-Vasquez said.

“So the country is far more urbanised than what the statistics may be saying. That’s important for your urbanisation policy.”

The World Bank report said that In Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka, the implied official underestimations are particularly wide, suggesting “large hidden urbanization”.

That means sizable portions of the populations of south Asia are living in settlements that, “although they may exhibit urban characteristics, are governed  as rural areas,” the report said.

“In the most extreme case of Sri Lanka, (new data) shows that as much as one-third of its entire population may be living in unrecognized urban settlements,” the report said.

“These unrecognized urban settlements are likely to include former town councils that, before Sri Lanka’s 1987 tightening of its definition, were officially classified as urban alongside the country’s municipal and urban councils.

“The downgrading of these town councils to rural areas (pradeshiya sabha) contributed to a fall in the country’s official urban share from 21.5 percent in the 1981 census to 14.6 percent in the 2001 census.” Colombo/September 29 2015)
 

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