Settlement Size Distribution and Development in the Niger Delta Region : Policy Issues
The various sizes of spatial patterns’ settlements has considerable impact on the distribution of social and infrastructure facilities such as health, education, extension services, water and communications services. The vast proportion of the Niger Delta States comprise largely of rural communities with scattered settlements mainly in tiny compounds where the population range from 50 to 500 people, consisting mostly out of farmers or fishermen. This definition may not be realistic in the most parts of the Niger Delta States where the level of urban development is quite low. It is therefore appropriate to recognize different sizes of settlements in the Niger States as a basis for the understanding of the settlement pattern. A major policy challenge relating to population and development in the Niger Delta region, concerns the need to promote the emergence of medium level urban centres that can mediate development to rural communities. From the analysis of the settlement distribution pattern in the region, it is clear that an important aspect of settlement size distribution development policy must focus on the spatial distribution of settlements of various sizes. A settlement size distribution policy should be articulated and promoted in the region so that localities, which at present do not have settlements capable of delivering social and economic facilities and services can have the opportunity of the development of such centres in their locality. Here, attention is focused on issues relating to the selection of central locations and growth centres, which would form the basis of the development of a balanced settlement system in the Niger Delta region.