About 60% of the country’s population reside in urban areas, according to the State of the World Population report for 2007.

The report was released by the United Nations Population Fund in Pretoria on Wednesday.

The chief operating officer of the Social Development Department, Zane Dangor, said the increased rural-to-urban migration attested to the poverty in rural areas.

“It is a fact that poor people will move to areas that offer greater opportunities,” he said, adding that migration was having an impact on sustainable development in the cities.

According to the 2001 census, more than a fifth of people in major metropolitan areas were new migrants.

“There is a problem in that our cities, in terms of infrastructure and planning, are not ready for such levels of migration.” he said.

He added that cities were not robust enough and geared up for the current migration patterns.

The government should make rural areas more attractive as places where people could live decent lives.

Worldwide, urban populations of Africa and Asia were growing by one million people a week and would have doubled by 2030 to include an additional 1,7-billion people, the report said.

United Nations Population Fund executive director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid said: “We must abandon a mindset that resists urbanisation and act now to begin a concerted global effort to help cities unleash their potential to spur economic growth and solve social problems.” — Sapa