The “Overcrowding” of Monrovia and its link to Rural-Urban Migration in Liberia: Causes, Consequences and Solutions

By Richard Fatorma Ngafuan
Department of Population Studies
Institute of Statistics and Applied Economics
Makerere University

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
June 14, 2010



When the population of Liberia reached the 3.5 million mark in 2008, several issues were highlighted by the final results of the 2008 National Population and Housing Census. For persons with the political mindset, the results of the population census of the various counties vis-à-vis the minimum population benchmark set by the Liberian Constitution for the gerrymandering of political constituencies elicited concerns, skepticism and perhaps cynicism. However the business of statecraft goes far beyond mere delineation of political constituencies. It goes further into transforming the lives of the pauperized masses of our country who have borne the brunt of the carnage and brutality experienced during our period of national madness. Hence the 2008 Census results as released by LISGIS cannot be treated as a mere document used for the intellectual edification of a select few; rather, it should be perceived as a baseline document in the formulation of future developmental policies and the bedrock upon which these socio-economic policies can be implemented in order to transform the lives of our bewildered people. In short it is a guide in the process of socio-political and economic engineering of society.

The Concept of an Urban Area in Liberia

In Liberia, all settlements with 2000 or more population are defined as urban. Nevertheless, any other locality with less than 2000 people but being the capital city of a county is also considered as an urban area (Liberia National Population Council, 2005). Otherwise, all other localities lacking these attributes mentioned can be termed as rural.

The definition of an urban area stated above, which focuses on population and political relevance, is limited in scope and focus. For instance, this definition excludes economic activity and the availability of social services and infrastructure. Critically speaking, if one could broaden the scope of the national definition of an urban area in Liberia to inculcate economic activity, availability of social services and infrastructure, many towns that are referred to as urban in Liberia would be out of the national classification of urban places.

Additionally the National definition of a city excludes land area coverage in classifying an urban location in Liberia. The lack of specification of the minimum land area that an urban area should cover has further exaggerated the vagueness of the Liberian definition of an urban area. Very small towns are categorized as cities.

On the whole, an awkward classification of urban and rural centers in Liberia tends to pose some problems in the area of population analysis with respect to the link between urbanization trends and patterns and other demographic variables. For instance, fertility and mortality differentials relative to urban centers have displayed some patterns similar to the anticipated rural patterns of population dynamics. Urban areas lacking the basic socio-economic characteristics of an urban center would obviously divert from normal patterns of urban demographic characteristics.

Another complication arising from this definition stems from the fact that a few number of cities in Liberia were created out of the need to appease some tribal elements or render favor to cronies of an incumbent regime who hail from a particular town. As a result, some towns regarded as cities tend to be typical metaphors of organized rural settlements.

Hence unless a broader meaning is given to urban and rural locations in Liberia, to include specifications of land mass and social amenities as well as economic activities, the meaning of “urban” or “rural” in Liberia would vague, hence blurring the socio-economic and demographic dichotomy between the two places.

Despite these conceptual limitations, it is important to stress that attempts at creating a harmonized definition of an urban area has proved futile overtime. Each country has got its own definition of an urban area and as such there is much relativity attached to the urban concept, hence rendering the standardization and international comparison of urbanization statistics faulty.

The state of the Liberian Urban Population and the Role of Monrovia

One major concern in terms of the spatial demography of Liberia is the increase in the population of Monrovia relative to its land area and social and economic infrastructure. According to LISGIS(2009), the total population of Greater Monrovia was 970,824 in 2008. However when one compares this population with the overall population of Montserrado County (1,118,241), it was realized that out of every ten persons dwelling in Montserrado, about nine resided in Greater Monrovia (87 percent). Also about 28 percent (close to one-third) of the country’s population lives in Monrovia, this is about 59 percent of the total share of the urban population of the country (47 percent of Liberia’s population lives in urban areas). Furthermore Montserrado County, of which Monrovia comprised 87 percent of its population, has the highest population growth rate of 3.5 percent as compared to other counties and the national population growth rate of 2.1 percent. Despite the drop in the average household size from 5.4 persons per household in 1984 to 4.7 in 2008, the total population of the capital has increased (LISGIS, 2009). Past and present trends show that the population of people living in urban areas in Liberia has been on the increase since 1974. Past census data show that 29 percent of the population of Liberia was living in urban areas in 1974 and the level of urbanization increased to 39 percent in 1984 and 47 percent in 2008 (LISGIS, 2009; Liberia National Population Council, 2005).

The question then emanating is: what are the underlying factors propelling the increasing pattern in the national rate of urban population from 1974 to 2008? One simple reason has been the upsurge in rural to urban migration. Nevertheless the increasing population of Monrovia relative to other urban centers could be explained in terms of inter-urban migration, i.e. movements of people from other urban centers to Monrovia. In other words the dominant stream of urban to urban migration could be towards Monrovia. Despite these conjectures, it is important to point out that deeper analysis into the final results of the 2008 Census will give a clearer picture of the spatial distribution of the population of Liberia, and the migration and urbanization trends, levels and patterns of the Liberian population and the prominent role of Monrovia in Liberia’s population analyses. Albeit, it is worth mentioning that the extent of Inter-censal natural increase (the surplus or deficit of births over deaths) within Monrovia itself could also provide an explanation about the current size, density and distribution of the population of Monrovia.

Given the aforementioned, concerns have been raised in some quarters about the present demographic situation of Monrovia. Nevertheless the issue of the high population density of Monrovia compared to the very few job openings in the city and the already destroyed physical infrastructure of the country is yet to be a key policy focus for national development planners as well as policy-makers.

Therefore this article shall focus on the increase in the population size of Monrovia in relation to its geographic area, available social services, and infrastructure as well as income sources needed to sustain its growing number of people. As a result, the term population density (population per unit of land area) shall feature throughout this literature to draw attention to the increasing number of people living within Monrovia.

The Determinants of High population density in Monrovia

The present demographic situation of Monrovia, like most variables in causal analyses, is determined by several factors. The extent to which these determining factors have influenced the prevailing population density of Monrovia cannot be directly measured as some have come through time, rendering direct observation unworkable. Notwithstanding, these factors discussed below have contributed to the demographic profile of Monrovia as we have it today. The magnitude and significance of such a contribution is however open to empirical statistical testing, which could be useful in adding to the wealth of demographic knowledge within the country.

Geo-climatic and Historical Factors

Liberia founded in 1822 by free slaves, existed hitherto as a vast expanse of green forest peopled by typically Mande, Kwa and Western Atlantic splinters of tribal groups. The dense jungle of Liberia, infested by anopheles mosquitoes and roamed by beasts of the jungle, made the expression the “white man’s grave” a dangerous reality for not only white colonialists but also marauding bands of African tribes from the Sahel regions of West Africa. Hence, when the Mali Empire held its reign on the western Sudan, the forest regions were typically left under the control of warrior chiefs. Even the Mandinka empire of Samori Touré could not establish a firm dominance of the forested south despite its control of parts of present day Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali and Guinea Bissau.

This abhorrence of the coastal forests made the hinterlands of Liberia a terra incognita even after the coming of the settlers. Until the expeditions of Benjamin J.K Anderson and the intermittent forays into the hinterland by the Americo-Liberian pioneers, much of Liberia was around the stretch of land along the coastal settlements covered with mangrove swamps. These “Congo settlements”, as they were widely known later in Liberia, became the centers of trade, commerce, education and politics in Liberia and consequently the hubs of socio-economic activities. These settlements offered both the settler community as well as the native population a sense of livelihood.

But population gravitation towards Monrovia had existed prior to the coming of the settlers as Ducor or Dugbor (as the present day Monrovia was called by various Liberian tribes) was the nexus of trade among tribal people even before the Americo-Liberians arrived (The is evidenced by the fact that all Liberian tribes have almost similar pronunciation of the Dey-Bassa name for Monrovia.)Hence the pull factor on Monrovia became well established at the very onset of the founding of the Liberian state.

Economic Factors

As the political and economic capital of Liberia, Monrovia is the center of trade and commerce in the country. Urban bias or the preference of urban centers over rural areas by policymakers in the dispensation of state resources and the overconcentration of development priorities on Monrovia have led to a resurging pull of population from the rest of the country towards Monrovia. Hence it is a naked reality that the present economy of Liberia, as it were in the past, is Monrovio-centric. As a result the disparity between Monrovia and other parts of the country, in terms of relative wealth is large. According to LISGIS & Macro International (2008), urban respondents and those in Monrovia are much more likely to fall in the highest wealth quintile. For instance, 56.4 percent of Monrovians lie in the highest wealth quintile and only 1 percent of the urban population lie in the lowest wealth quintile, compared to 31 percent of the rural population. This lack of decentralization of the economy and wealth has continued and will continue to place a strain on the relatively better economy of Monrovia unless this trend is reverse.

Urban population growth can sometimes be beneficial especially if it is matched by a concomitant increase in urban trade and industry and the provision of employment. But the apparent slow pace in the growth of the economy of Monrovia in comparison to its population has rendered the concept of an optimum population within Monrovia an unworkable phenomenon for the short run. The optimum population concept is one in which population tends to match available economic resources. This state of the optimality of population, though ideal in most cases, is necessary to be set as a target so as to give development and economic planning increased focus.

Political Factors

Liberia has a unitary form of government in which governance of the various counties is directed and controlled from the capital, Monrovia. County superintendents are appointed by the president and continue to serve under his/her will and pleasure through the supervision of the Minister of Internal Affairs. This idea of centrality of power has implicitly affected the running of the legislature as most assemblymen continue to represent their people from their cozy offices on Capitol Hill. Sometimes crucial issues affecting leeward counties are handled from Monrovia, thus creating a lopsided approach to people’s participation in decision-making. Some chiefs have to travel long distances to meet their legislators in the national capital city instead of the opposite being true. This apparent lack of bottom-up approach to socio-political decision-making has created a dominant urban psyche and the preference of the urban way of life among rural dwellers. Thus the urban mentality has increased the yearning of rural dwellers to move towards Monrovia.

In addition to its level of political sensitization, the population of Monrovia also makes it to be a center of political bickering and might at times serve as the powder keg of political tensions. A political demagogue whose intention is to acquire power at all cost could pander to the frustrations of the urban masses who are prone to disenchantments. This could be detrimental to national cohesion and stability, even if an incumbent government is endeavoring selflessly to ameliorate the conditions of its people in the face impediments.

Educational Factors

Presently young people who wish to acquire either higher or better education will eventually move to Monrovia since the capital has become the center of education in the country. Apart from two, all universities are found in Monrovia. Cuttington University located in Suakoko, Bong County mainly serves the needs of youths from affluent urban families instead of catering to the rural poor children who are in dire need of better education; and Tubman College in Harper has just been revamped and is yet to serve as a viable alternative for the rural poor from Southeastern Liberia. As a result, youths in rural Liberia who seek better and higher education would eventually move to Monrovia. This movement of young people from the largely agrarian rural Liberia has caused the gradual implosion of the rural population and, by extension, the reduction in productive manpower for agricultural activities.

War and Internal Displacements

The civil crisis fought intermittently from 1989 to 2003 led to major population shifts within and out of the country. Since most people were forced to leave Liberia for safety reasons, many were also uprooted from their places of residence and moved to other parts of the country. During the first half of the 1990s when Monrovia was under the control of the ECOMOG peacekeepers and governed by the various Interim Governments, many moved from rebel controlled rural Liberia to Monrovia.

But this trend increased during the last version of the war from 1999 to 2003. During the final phase of the war, the western frontier seemed hostile as an escape route for forced migrants from Lofa, Gbarpolu, Bomi and Grand Cape Mount Counties who were always reminded about the reprisal attacks they faced in Sierra Leone during the RUF Invasion of 1991. With the LURD and MODEL controlling the Northwestern and Eastern routes to Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea, most people fleeing from the war moved into Monrovia and its environs for safety, harboring the hope that the war would remain a jungle affair. Now that the war has ended, many of the internally displaced persons or IDPs (especially youths and young adults) have remained in Monrovia after getting used to the urban way of life or are compelled to stay due to schooling, business or the pursuit of better standard of living. This has also led to the increase in the population of Monrovia relative to its size and available infrastructural and social services.

Social Networks

However social networks through kinship and friendship ties, as well as marriages have also been instrumental in contributing to migratory movements from the hinterland to Monrovia. From the 1940s to the 1970s most people from Northwestern, North and Central Liberia moved to the Firestone plantation as the location of first destination. When life began to turn better they subsequently moved into tribal slums in Monrovia. The Buzzi Quarter and Camp Johnson Road developed as a slum for Lorma, Gbandi and some Kpelleh migrants. Also people from the Vai, Grebo and Kru ethnic groups moved into Clara and Vai Towns; and Jallah’s Town, Saye Town and Plunkor became enclaves from people emanating from Northwestern and Central Liberia.

Furthermore West Point and New Kru Town developed as the place of first destination for most migrants from the South Eastern parts of Liberia. During the 1970s, these practically illiterate and poor rural migrants lacked the ability to live in relatively affluent places like Congo Town, Mamba Point and Sinkor. Thus when standards of living improved, most of these people moved to the suburb of Monrovia finding relatively cheaper land to establish their families. Notwithstanding, their homes continued to serve as the places of first stop for relatives from the hinterland. This network factor has also increased the propensity of other subsequent and would-be migrants from rural areas to move to Monrovia. Family members in Monrovia have reduced the risks and cost of movements to Monrovia for rural migrants and migrants from other urban centers.

Differential in Income and Standard of livings

The differential in income and standard of living between Monrovia and the rest of the country is large. The propensity for individuals to migrate from the country side to the capital has a direct link to the size of this differential. The wider the gap in the standard of living, income and employment opportunities between Monrovia and other parts of the country, the greater the propensity for people to change permanent residence from rural Liberia to Monrovia, and the greater will be the strain on the economy of the capital, given that other factors are held constant. This proposition, however, is yet to be tested through empirical studies.

Lack of Policy Focus and Implementation

The issue of decentralization has long been harped in governmental circles; the effect of this concept has stopped short of policy implementation. Also the National Population Policy (2005) seemed to be oblivious of the problems associated with the huge movement of people from other parts of the country to Monrovia. In fact the issue of internal migration as it relates to rural-urban migration was not dealt with in its policy goals, objectives and targets, though it was mentioned in chapter four, which dealt with the general population profile of the country.

This suggests that the issue of rural-urban migration and its accompanying problems has not fallen in the ray of policy focus, not to mention the increasing population density of Monrovia relative to its overstressed social services and infrastructure.

The Consequences of the “Overcrowding” of Monrovia

There are myriad consequences associated with the “overcrowding” of Monrovia. However this article shall focus on some economic, socio-political, health and environmental consequences of the expanding population of Monrovia relative to its size and available economic resources and social infrastructure.

Economic consequences

According to Jhingan(2005), the main economic problems of urbanization are the lack of basic services in cities. This is also true for Monrovia where some of the economic consequences of its population are listed below:

(i) Low per capita availability of essential commodities

(ii) Urban unemployment

(iii) Increase in aggregate demand

(iv) Low Agricultural Productivity

With the high population density in Monrovia, the per capita net availability of essential commodities such as rice will be low. Unless this is matched by the increase in the importation of needed goods, for the short-run, the growing shortages of essential goods due to high population density could result into tensions. The ramifications can only be fathomed like in the case of the Riot for Rice and Rights in 1979.

Figure 1: Population Density-Economic Growth Circle

As earlier stated, the increase in the population of Monrovia comprising of mainly young adults who lack professional skills has led also to the increase in the unemployment rate of the formal sector. Many have taken recourse to business as the government and the few private agencies or corporations cannot absorb them. Urban unemployment has also served as a determining factor in the development of the large informal sector in Monrovia.

High population density in Monrovia also contributes to an increase in its aggregate demand and consequently could promote economic growth in the long-run. This tends to improve businesses both on the larger and smaller scales, and could serve as a cushion for the burden of urban unemployment, when most young adults who lack the education to acquire white-collar jobs could resort to small scale businesses.

Migratory movements of rural dwellers to Monrovia have reduced the level of manpower in the agricultural sector since farming in Liberia is mainly labor intensive. In the short term, this may cause scarcity and, thus, the increase in the prices of agricultural products. But given the lack of good roads and transportation facilities in most parts of rural Liberia, the resultant net return from high prices of farming products have been reduced. The sad consequence then is that farmers are forced to only produce what they can eat, hence are compelled reduce their production.

Socio-political consequences

Apart from the economic effects of the high population density of Monrovia, there are also socio-political impacts of this demographic phenomenon:

Political problems

All these interlocking problems stated above are recipes for political tension in the Monrovia and by extension the entire country. Restive youths who are frustrated about the entire economic system would usually ventilate their frustration on the seating government irrespective of the political party or the individual in power. Also since Monrovia is the home of about one-third of the country’s population who are likely to be unemployed, most of the heated political activities in the country would emanate from there. Politicians who seek to win the general election must endeavor to win the hearts and minds of the Monrovia voting populace. This frequently seems to be an uphill task for an incumbent regime as it is usually faced with an already infuriated voting populace, due to the conditions highlighted above.

Burden on public utility

Rapid increase in the number of persons dwelling in Monrovia has put pressure on social infrastructure such as schools, housing, health care, water supply, sanitation, power as well as road and transportation. For example, the problem of transportation has turned so stressful to the extent that commuters usually wait hours on the roadside in order to secure a vehicle to transport them to very short distances within Monrovia. Hence traffic jam will continue to increase as the volume of cars increases. Apart from traffic jam, the long queues on Johnson and McDonald Streets as well as the large number of people who stand waiting for vehicles, especially on the suburbs of the capital, will continue to increase as people increase in their numbers.

Also the growing population of Monrovia would affect the housing industry positively, but would have a negative impact on the population in terms of the short-run high cost of housing in Monrovia. There has been an increase in the demand for houses in Monrovia due to increase in population and the destruction of infrastructure during the course of the war; thereby increasing the price of housing in Liberia. However it is expected that in the short-run there will be a boom in the housing industry which will be followed by a long-run decrease in the demand for houses. This fall in the demand for houses would eventuate due to large scale construction of houses already obtaining in Monrovia. Since 51 percent of the households in urban Montserrado are living in their own houses (LISGIS, 2009), it is expected that as the country stabilizes, there will be an increase in this proportion of house owners in urban Montserrado.

Apart from housing, the costs of health care and education are likely to take an upward trend in Monrovia, especially for children under the age of 15. Like Liberia, Monrovia has a youthful population with about two in five (39 percent) persons under the age of 15 and one in two (51 percent) under the age of 20.

Crime and Drug addiction

With the need for a smaller and efficient public sector and the inadequacy of labor intensive industries to absorb the huge semi-skilled, youthful manpower of the city, some youths have resorted to petty thievery, armed robbery and drug addiction. Though there are other underlying reasons behind the increasing rate of criminality in Monrovia: the extent of joblessness fuel by the high population density, coupled with high levels of trauma among youths from years of war experiences, and reinforced by the upsurge of drug addiction have all contributed meaningfully to the high crime rate.

Development of a large Suburbia

Associated with the increase in the population of Monrovia is the development of an ever-expanding suburban area. This has the tendency to transform the capital into a megalopolis. Like Lagos, Ibadan and Nairobi, most large cities in Africa have developed out of an originally smaller landmass that subsequently changed into an ever-elastic urban sprawl.

An increase in the size of the capital would have several impacts. It would tend to place into question the definition of an urban area as accepted by the laws of Liberia. It would also lead to the redefinition of the boundaries of Monrovia and consequently the expansion of the authority of the Monrovia City Council. This would also mean the expansion of its personnel and budget. Moreover, maintaining law and order in Monrovia would mean increasing the number of manpower and logistics within the police force. In short, there would be budgetary as well as human resource implications when the capital city expands well beyond its present size.

Unavailability of Land and Land crisis

As the number people increase in Monrovia and its environs, the more land would be scarce and costly. The price of a plot of land will continue to increase as people increase in Monrovia, the closer the plot of land to the city center the more expensive it will be and vice versa. This would lead to the expansion of the capital. But one situation that has propped up out of this rising cost of land is the increase in the sale of land without proper title or the double selling of a single plot of land by unscrupulous “landowners”. As a result, the number of land related cases have increase at the civil courts, and unless speedy reforms are made in terms of laws on the sale and ownership of land, more land crises would be witnessed in the years to come.

Health and Environmental Consequences

The overcrowding of urban centers is likely to cause the increase in the number of slums and shanty towns. One overriding characteristic of these slums is the lack of proper sewage system. The absence or inadequacy of toilet facilities and the overall lack of proper hygienic conditions in these “urban jungles” lead to the increase in communicable diseases such as cholera, which could result into the loss of lives. The number of persons per toilet facility and the distance from a dwelling unit to the nearest toilet facility serve as reasons for the occurrence of health problems in the city. Also the volume of garbage produced tends to increase with the increasing number of persons within an area. This poses problems for municipal authorities to properly manage the garbage system. The presence of garbage heaps in communities, in addition to an unclean environment, provides good breeding grounds for mosquitoes and other parasites that serve as threats to human existence.

Furthermore the increase in the number of persons per square mile tends to cause degradation to the environment. For instance the beaches of Monrovia are littered with human refuse and garbage which affect the life of amphibious animals and plants that use the beaches as their habitat. Also the level of pollution of the Stockton Creek and Mesurado River has risen over the years due to the discarding of garbage and human refuse into water. These waterways are used by most people who live along its banks as toilet facilities. All these have adverse effects on plant and animal life within the waters around the capital and people who consume them.

Solutions to the Overcrowding of Monrovia

Direct policies aimed at rendering shifts in the direction of population flow may not be easily workable. Such policies like mass eviction and the erection of physical barriers to people’s movement may boomerang into municipal upheavals. A standing government, having its political agenda to fulfill may in fact be reluctant to carry out draconian policies which would turn its people against the status quo. Hence indirect policies that are aimed at effecting changes in population variables through other factors may be expedient.

The population density-economic growth circle (as illustrated in Figure 1) turns to gyrate continuously unless there is a break in this chain. The question then is how this chain can be broken, while maintaining sustained economic growth in Monrovia. Ordinarily economic growth, the presence of social amenities, good infrastructure and schools are all important condiments in increasing the pull factor on the city. Hence the first step is to improve the lot of rural dwellers by increasing social amenities in the form of recreational centers, communication, academic institutions in rural areas.

In terms of education, well-staffed tertiary institutions built in leeward places could assist in the short term in preventing people from migrating to the capital. But in the long run young graduates from the hinterland would eventually move to the capital to seek well-paying jobs and the better way of life. Thus government and her non-governmental partners could assist in creating sustainable employment in rural towns for rural youths. Also higher incentives and salaries could be paid to those who opt to work in areas outside of Monrovia. The more remote the location, the higher should be the incentives and salaries paid.

Furthermore emphasis should be placed on increasing agricultural productivity in rural areas through the use of labor intensive methods. A two-sided approach should be adopted where the private sector should be encouraged to increase her role in the agrarian sector. Financial institutions must also be willing to provide the necessary credit to farmers who are in need of capital. This would contribute to the provision of jobs for some poor rural dwellers and prevent mass movement towards Monrovia. Government could play a salient role in first training rural farmers about modern farming techniques and also revamping the various district agricultural cooperatives. However it is important to stress that these cooperatives must be well-monitored through periodic audits so as to prevent the corruption that was characteristic of most farming cooperatives in the 1980s. Additionally, the Liberian Produce Marketing Corporation (LPMC) should endeavor to regulate the prices of agricultural commodities as well as provide needed farming implements to farmers for affordable prices. Attractive prices of agricultural produce would encourage farmers to increase their production. But district authorities could work with their people in producing crops that they have the comparative advantage to produce. Since rice is a political commodity in Liberia, government could play a more regulatory role in controlling the price of rice so as to maintain a balance between meeting people’s demand as well as encouraging the various commercial and subsistence rice farmers engaged in rice production within the country. Furthermore, financial institutions must be available to provide the necessary credit to farmers who are in need of capital.

Nevertheless agricultural productivity would be stifled if good farm-to-market roads are either absent or in want of repair. Therefore government could increase its emphasis on constructing more farm-to-market roads in the rural Liberia (thanks to the present increment in the budgetary allocation of the Ministry of Public Works in the 2010/2011 budget). This would assist in allowing farmers to have access to markets where they can sell their product at better prices.

Furthermore conditions in other urban centers should be improved. Effort should be placed on lifting other cities in Liberia, such as Kakata, Buchanan, and Gbarnga etc. to the standard of Monrovia. Since it is assumed here that inter-urban movement has also contributed to the overcrowding of Monrovia, it would be appropriate for governmental and non-governmental partners to focus on other cities in their development priorities.

In order to prevent day time congestion, government agencies should be dispersed around Monrovia and its suburb. Also effort should be made at relocating the Central Business District (CBD) located on Cape Mesurado and its outlying vicinities. This could be done by making it compulsory for certain type of commodities to be sold outside the city center. If these are put into place the direction and flow of traffic would reduce towards central Monrovia. Also roads should be expanded beyond their present size within the capital so as to accommodate the growing volume of cars.

Apart from those exogenous factors mentioned above, population growth in urban areas should be controlled and reduced. Among the urban poor, it would be realized that high fertility may be prevalent. With the falling death rate in Monrovia due to better presence of medical facilities, and a high birth rate, the resultant rate of natural increase would be high, thus leading to a higher population growth rate within the city. Therefore, a robust family planning program aimed at reducing the present population growth rate within the capital should be undertaken. Priority should be placed on areas and population subgroups displaying the highest levels of fertility within Monrovia.

But changes in the size and distribution of human populations cannot occur dramatically. In fact in the face of these suggested reforms, the population of Monrovia would continue to increase. But since about 53 percent of the country’s population still lives in rural areas while about 19 percent lives in other urban areas apart from Monrovia, it is important that population movements be restrained from taking the direction of Monrovia. If this were to be achievable, other inherent factors increasing the population density of Monrovia could be handled.


Jhingan, M. (2005). Demography,2nd Edition. Delhi: Nisha Enterprises.

Liberia National Population Council. (2005). Liberia National Population CoNational Policy on Population for Social and Economic Development (Revised Edition). Monrovia.

LISGIS & Macro International. (2008). 2007 Liberian Demographic and Health Survey. Monrovia: Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services.

LISGIS. (2009). 2008 National Population and Housing Census Final Results. Monrovia: LISGIS.

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