Thursday, June 12, 2008

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Djibouti City

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Nearly 85 per cent of Djibouti's population is urban, with the vast majority of urban dwellers living in the capital city, Djibouti. The city's population grew 10-fold between 1950 and 2002 and is projected to grow another 25 per cent, to 800 000 people by 2025. The city is poor by international standards, but its relative prosperity for the area has attracted migrants from rural Djibouti and surrounding countries.

The country of Djibouti has little arable land, little rainfall, and limited possibilities for irrigation. Because of this it imports 80 per cent of its food, mostly through the port of the capital city.

Droughts during recent decades and desertification exacerbated by overgrazing have reduced the viability of pastoral life. This, along with high rural water insecurity, has helped to drive many rural residents to villages and cities—many of them settling in the capital.

Water availability in the capital is better than in rural areas, but limited supply and inadequate sanitation are problems there as well; the rapidly growing population will make the supply issue worse. Improving access to water in the rural areas is a way to address poverty and health issues in the countryside and at the same time reduce the rural-to-urban migration that is straining the capital city's infrastructure. A recent partnership between the European Union, UNICEF, and Djibouti's Ministry of Agriculture should bring clean, safe water to 25 000 of Djibouti's poorest rural residents.
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