Theoretical Underpinnings of Urban Sprawl; In search of a Universal Theory of the 21st Century Urban Management Challenge

Ayonga DSODJ&. "Theoretical Underpinnings of Urban Sprawl; In search of a Universal Theory of the 21st Century Urban Management Challenge.". In: Africa Habitat. Nairobi: Africa Habitat Review Journal; 2009.


Urban sprawl is a phenomenon which characterizes all urban spaces both in MDCs and LDCs. Managing the problems associated with urban sprawl, especially in LDCs, is, however, mind boggling, hence, the very reason why the theme of the world urban forum held in 2008 in Beijing city, China, read: cities without sprawl. In order to manage urban sprawl in a sustainable way, there is need to understand the factors which bring it about. In an effort to contribute to that understanding, this paper seeks answers to the questions: Do patterns of urban sprawl occur the same way in every city both in MDCs and LDCs? In other words, can urban sprawl be explained by use of a single and universal theory? The review of literature has established that patterns of peri-urban formation vary depending on the city-rural relationship at the rural-urban interface. In countries where the urban land use system is integrated with that of the rural, peri-urban formation takes the form of invasion and succession along the city-rural continuum. In countries where the rural and urban land use systems are dichotomized, peri-urban dichotomy. It is concluded, however, that there is no single theory to explain all forms of urban sprawl. The general consensus; however, is that urban sprawl is undesirable. A framework to predetermining desirable/ optimum patterns of peri-urban formation is conceptualized in this paper. What constitutes a universal theory that informs a desirable/optimum model is also conceptualized in this paper and termed here in as the integrated politico-social-economic optimizing model.

Key words: theoretical underpinings, urban sprawl, universal theory, management challenge, urban fringe.

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