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Changes in Rural Areas - LEDCs

A significant part of your study of GCSE geography is concerned with human geography. This deals with different aspects of our impact on the planet from economic to environmental. This quiz deals with a little of both as we look at the changes in rural areas caused by a number of push and pull factors.

The nature of changes to rural areas is different for LEDCs to MEDCs and affects both people and the environment. There are similarities between the two, for example rural depopulation, but there are even more differences. In both cases, the ultimate solution is to manage sustainable rural change. For the exam, you will be expected to know some of the key positive and negative changes that occur and some of the solutions.

In LEDCs, the bulk of the population is still rural and the poorest of these countries generally have the largest rural populations.

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It is the rural populations that have the least money, so people will migrate from the countryside to urban areas to earn better wages (that's a push factor) and to obtain better jobs (a pull factor). The positive side is that the migrant workers send money home which increases the cash in the local economy. The negative side is that it is generally the young males who migrate, so the remaining children will often not have the time for schooling as they are needed to work the land and there will be less 'muscle' to carry out the heavier tasks. This can trigger a cycle of decline as less food is produced.

The land is used to provide food to feed both the rural and urban population as LEDCs import less food than MEDCs meaning that changes in their rural areas have a greater significance than in MEDCs. The change from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture in LEDCs has a positive economic effect but negative environmental effects such as pressure on water supplies and eutrophication of water courses due to overuse of fertilisers. With less land to grow their own food, the poorest families suffer and will tend to migrate to urban centres.

Many rural areas in both LEDCs and MEDCs attract tourists. This can benefit the local population, however, that is not always the case as the money spent by tourists is not always put back into the local economy to improve conditions and infrastructure. This is more critical in LEDCs as the areas are deprived to begin with.

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  1. Which of the following is not a push factor that could lead to rural to urban migration?
    When farmers are encouraged to grow cash crops, less land is available for subsistence farming. Drought, flooding, mudslides or other natural disasters that ruin the crops as well as poverty, can leave families with no option other than to migrate to the nearest urban centre. Better housing conditions are a pull factor that draw people to urban centres
  2. Which of the following is not a negative impact of growing cash crops?
    Cash crops benefit the economy of the country. They provide some local employment but don't necessarily benefit everyone in the local community and can lead to migration to towns and cities
  3. Why does improving roads and communications help rural communities in LEDCs?
    Better access and links to towns makes it easier for them to sell their goods as it opens up new markets and gives them a larger customer base
  4. Charities often work with rural communities in LEDCs. Which of the following is an example of the work they do?
    The best work done by charities in rural areas of LEDCs leads to self-sufficiency and develops a sustainable community. This benefits both the local community and the country
  5. Why are rural changes in LEDCs important?
    The majority of people in LEDCs live in rural areas, producing food for themselves, urban dwellers and also for export to MEDCs so any changes in these areas will have significant implications for the economy
  6. One important way of helping rural areas in LEDCs is by improving the local economy by encouraging tourism. What does this achieve?
    One of the main negative changes to rural areas is the migration from the countryside to towns and cities. Less food is grown and urban areas are put under greater pressure by the increased population
  7. Who is most likely to migrate from a rural area to an urban area?
    In LEDCs, the rural populations are generally subsistence farmers, with the family working the farm together. When the young men move to the cities, the others need to do more work in order to maintain the same productivity
  8. Which of the following is not a benefit of migration to urban areas?
    Although the migration of a family member to an urban centre can put pressure on the family in respect of the farm, there are economic benefits which can make it worthwhile, provided that they can find employment
  9. A cash crop is ...
    Growing cash crops for export means that land is no longer used to grow food crops for local people. This food pressure can lead to migration
  10. Improving the standard of living for families in rural areas helps their communities become more sustainable. Which of the following is not an example of a government of an LEDC improving rural standards of living?
    Having a better standard of living for rural families reduces migration to urban centres and helps to ensure a stable and adequate food supply for the country

Author: Kev Woodward

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