Ali, Akeel Ellafi (2017) Examination of Effects of Expanding Cities on Peri-Urban Agricultural Areas: Implications on Farmers' Livelihoods in Qarabulli District in the Eastern Part of Tripoli, Libya. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

Many countries in the southern hemisphere are still in the process of developing. In North Africa to be specific, the development process is bringing about various degrees of land use and land cover changes which are having various levels of impact on people’s lives both in urban and peri-urban areas among others. The core causes of these changes vary, but literature indicates that the process of urbanization is the main cause since as cities and town areas urbanization, deforestation, soil erosion and the sale of land by rural farmers are encouraged. Implications of land use and land cover changes are broad and vary across geographies. It is the variations of the impact of such changes that motivated this researcher to conduct this research with the aim of analyzing effects of urbanization and expanding cities on the surrounding agricultural area. The research zeroed in on trying to understand how peri urban farmers and their livelihoods are being impacted by various land use and land cover changes that are emerging from the expansion of Tripoli, the capital of Libya.

This study examined the impact, both positive and negative, that the expansion of Tripoli has had on the livelihoods of these rural households in Qarabulli. It further sought to identify the way affected farmers and households cope and react to the various changes the expansion of Tripoli is exposing them to. The research also looked at the context in which the poor rural households pursue livelihoods, and discussed factors that make their livelihoods vulnerable. The forms of capitals, named livelihood assets, available to the rural households are also examined. The livelihood outcomes of the farmers, the strategies and the coping measures employed by affected peri urban farmers are identified and discussed.

Through the utilization of a mixed methods research approach, a mix of qualitative and quantitative data were collected, and analyzed. Data collection was done in two stages. The first stage looked at land use and land cover changes through a critical analysis of land degradation and this was done using Remote Sensing and GIS techniques. Image Classification, multi-temporal Landsat TM, and ETM+ imagery were used to determine and detect land use and land cover changes during the periods 1986 to 2009. The second stage of the research data collection process, collected qualitative data using Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methods to explore farmers’ experiences and feelings on how the land use changes are impacting their livelihoods.

Through the use of Remote Sensing and GIS techniques, the study area is divided into four categories: urban area, forest land, irrigated farmland and bare land. Land use and land cover changes during the years 1986 and 2009 were noted and analyzed based on satellite images. The study found that throughout 1986 up to 2009, the size of land classified originally as urban area changed from the original size of 4,997 hectares to 9,653 hectares while within the same time span, land originally classified as forest land reduced in size by 1,793 hectares. Further to these changes, land classified as bare land increased in size by 2,353 ha while the original size of land classified as irrigated farmland reduced by nearly 2,204 hectares. These observed changes are significant, hence pose a growing threat to agricultural land in Libya which could impact food production and water quantity and quality thus potentially destabilizing food sufficiency and sustainability of the whole nation.

Key findings concerned the identification of water quality and quantity as the main challenges faced the agricultural sector. As a way of managing this problem, the farmers asked for a speedy intervention of the Libyan government through greater regulation and investment in the agricultural sector.

Further to the land use and land cover changes that were noted through the use and analysis of the satellite images, the study also noted that livelihoods of rural farmers in the periphery of Tripoli are threatened by the expansion of the city. The expansion, which is the core reason why the images are displaying the various changes noted, confirm that land originally used for agriculture has changed its use and is now used as urban land where urban settlements and associated infrastructure have been constructed thus making farmers lose the land on which rural households activities were being conducted.

The study also found that there are both positive and negative outcomes to the rural households when cities like Tripoli expand. The expansion of Tripoli enabled some of the affected households to access new livelihoods through migration and securing of alternative sources of income in the urban area. On the other hand, the loss of land by the farmers means that there is shortage of land for agriculture. Coupled with poor water and soil qualities, the direct consequences of reduced farming activities have been low food production at household level which has negatively affected rural people’s livelihoods.

The study is the first of its kind to be conducted in Libya and among others differs from other studies conducted on urbanization and livelihoods area in Libya because of the nature of study methods. No study prior to this has ever employed a combination of Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) strategies, Remote Sensing (RS) and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) approaches in one study that sought to better understand the impact of land use and land cover changes on livelihoods of peri-urban farmers.

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