Vol. 13 (November 2010 - June 2011)
AFRICA'S LARGE CITIES
By Timothy Gachanga Recent events in Cairo, Africa's largest city, have inspired people throughout the continent. In this first venture of the Ezine into North Africa, Timothy Gachanga of Kenya shows why the liberation struggle of people in Cairo matters. In fact, many of their aspirations and problems — poverty, hunger, gender injustice, poor transportation and housing, unemployment, corruption, unresponsive government and lack of freedom — are shared by Africans in other large urban centres, as seen in the earlier articles of this series.
Par/By Mik Missakabo Kinshasa, la capitale de la République démocratique du Congo, est présentement la troisième plus grande ville d'Afrique et est en voie de devenir la plus grande ville. Pour plusieurs observateurs, cette situation se traduira nécessairement par plus de problèmes, incluant des logements inadéquats, des infrastructures désuètes et une pauvreté grandissante. L'auteur de cet article nous propose en fait une thèse différente. Tout en ne minimisant pas les défis réels et énormes que devra surmonter la mégalopole, Mik Missakabo présente Kinshasa comme un "espace d'action collective" riche et créatif et insiste sur son potentiel de devenir une "ville dans laquelle il fait bon vivre".
Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, is currently the third largest city in Africa and is on course to become the largest. For many analysts, this necessarily means more problems, including inadequate housing, hopeless infrastructure and grinding poverty. The author of this article argues otherwise. While not ignoring the very real and enormous problems facing the megacity, Mik Missakabo reveals Kinshasa as a rich and dynamic "space for shared action" and highlights its potential to become "a city where one can live well."
By Munyaradzi Makoni Cape Town is often considered one of the most attractive cities in the world. But appearances can be deceptive, for within Cape Town there are a number of large slums, where many people live in unimaginable poverty and squalor. Munyaradzi Makoni reveals this jarring reality, especially highlighting the lack of infrastructure and social services in poor areas. In view of Cape Town's highly divided society, he questions its commitment to basic human dignity and equality and challenges authorities and people to build a better, common future.
By Teke Ngomba Many African nations are committed to the goal of providing decent housing for all, and many Africans view decent housing as a right. Within the context of rapid urbanisation and extreme poverty, however, the provision of adequate housing has proven particularly challenging. In this article, Teke Ngomba looks at two major African cities, Lagos and Johannesburg, and examines the gaps between policy and implementation, together with small successes and wrong-headed strategies, within the larger effort to realise "cities without slums."
By Timothy Gachanga Nairobi today is a city of over 3 million people, but roughly half of the rapidly growing population is thought to live in slums such as Kibera, Korogocho and Mathare, which cover only about 5 percent of the city's area. In this article, Timothy Gachanga looks at the problem of social disintegration in the slums, its causes and the obstacles it poses to the realization of values. He also suggests ways to effect better social integration, ways that include the participation of the slum residents themselves.
By J-P Thompson From Dakar to Cairo to Cape Town, Africa's large cities are in trouble. Wracked by a host of problems from a lack of clean water and sanitation to bad government and high unemployment, these cities are growing rapidly and major parts of them are turning into extremely poor, overcrowded and disease-ridden slums. In this editorial, which begins a new series in the Ezine, J-P Thompson gives an overview of the challenges facing Africa's major urban centres with a particular focus on housing, environmental and policy issues.
by Timothy Gachanga
|Cairo and the Quest for Freedom and Social Justice|
"Any people anywhere, being
inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the
existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most
valuable, a most sacred right, a right which we hope and believe is to liberate
(Abraham Lincoln, 1848). Lincoln's famous quote resonates across North Africa
and the Middle East today. Indeed, one and a half centuries later, Egypt did "rise
up and shake off the existing government". Workers and peasants jammed the
streets of Cairo to demand freedom and social justice. They wanted a say about
where they live and work. They wanted to be free from the corruption that stole
the value of their resources. Women wanted to be free from sexual harassment
when on the streets of Cairo. Young people wanted jobs so that they could start
their own families. They also wanted to use the internet to communicate near
and far with their peers and friends. They wanted a government that would
listen to them and serve them well. What was lacking, however, was a catalyst
for revolution. The uprising in Tunisia provided the model they needed to
advance their quest for justice.
| ||They wanted a government that would
listen to them and serve them well ... The uprising in Tunisia provided the model.|| |
an ancient city full of paradoxes. It is a place filled with joy and sadness,
love and hate, good and bad, rich and poor. Globally, it is considered one of
the safest cities in the world. According to the UN Habitat State of African
Cities Report 2010, it is the largest city in Africa and the largest in Middle
East. It has a population of 20 million people and a population increase of 30
people per hour. Street life has a
patent charm to it. Late model cars compete with cabs, donkey-carts and
livestock transportation for space. It also consists of a little joking and
haggling with neighbors and street vendors. However, beneath this veneer
lies a "collective narrative" of poverty, social injustice,
desperation and hopelessness.
Cairo is full of hardships. Rising inflation, rising food prices and
unemployment have made life unbearable, especially to the poor already prone to
malnutrition, water-borne diseases and respiratory infections. In order to
cope, the poor are forced to stretch their resources by selling their personal
property, working long hours, sometimes in harsh conditions, begging, engaging in
prostitution and even selling body organs.
According to Mullins (2009), poverty has become so harsh that
organ selling is viewed as a means to survive. He describes an incident where
one woman sold a kidney for $2,185 in order to pay off debts and feed her
family. Elsewhere, a young couple in Cairo was forced to sell a kidney each
after selling nearly everything else they had. The two were later dumped
semi-conscious into a taxi with the payment for the kidneys tucked into their
clothes. A year later, their health had deteriorated so much that they spent
much of the day in bed in a dark room (Keysen, 2009).
To cope with the increasing food prices, the
poor are forced to buy poor quality food. As a result, obesity has now become an epidemic in
among adults, particularly women, has reached very high proportions while
malnutrition rates in pre-school children remain stubbornly high. Sably (2009) observes that in
1998, around 70 percent of women and 48 percent of men were overweight or
obese. This figure has shot up due to high inflation that has made the cost of
food unaffordable to average Egyptians. In May 2010, for instance, Cairo restaurants
were forced to withdraw red meat in their menus due to high costs. On average,
a kilo of beef sells for $10 to $12. This is not affordable to the vast
majority of ordinary Egyptians who earn less than $2 per day (Jensen, 2010).
The only commodity that has not gone up is the subsidized baladi bread. This has led to an increase in demand for the
commodity. Egypt started
subsidizing staples like bread, sugar and tea around World War II, and has done
so ever since. When it tried to stop subsidizing bread in 1977 there were
Bread is the staple food in Egypt. Every day people
line up 3 to 4 times a day to buy the subsidized bread. This however is a fierce affair. People spend an average of between two and
three hours daily just to get their daily bread supplies. This has led to
violence, mainly in Cairo's impoverished neighborhoods. In 2008, for instance,
at least 11 people died in bread queues from exhaustion, and two were stabbed
when fights broke out between customers vying for places in the queue. A woman
was hit by a car while standing in a queue that stretched into the street.
Elsewhere, an argument between two boys over their place in line escalated to a
brawl in which four people were hurt. Schoolchildren are also forced to miss school
while queuing (Jonstone, 2008).
The situation for
women in Cairo is no better than for poor people in general. To be a woman in
Cairo is to accept sexual harassment on a daily basis. In Cairo, pursuit of
justice for women is fraught with images of despair and hopelessness. This is
clearly highlighted in a film, Cairo 678, which tells the story of
three fictional women from different backgrounds in search for justice from
daily sexual harassment. One of them is separated from her husband and sexually
harassed by a group of men after a football match, another insists on taking
her harasser to court despite pressure to drop her case and the third responds
by stabbing harassers in the groin with the pin from her head scarf. Widespread
sexual injustice also caught international attention on February 11, 2011, when
CBS correspondent Lara Logan was sexually assaulted and beaten on the final
night of the 18-day revolt (Rothe, 2011).
| ||To be a woman in
Cairo is to accept sexual harassment ... 80 percent of Egyptian women experience sexual harassment on a
daily basis and 62 percent of men admit harassing women sexually.|| |
to a report released in 2008 by the Egyptian Centre for Women's
Rights (ECWR), 80 percent of Egyptian women experience sexual harassment on a
daily basis and 62 percent of men admit harassing women sexually. Sexual
harassment is regarded as a private matter in Cairo. Women often are afraid to
report sexual assault or harassment for fear that they and their families will
be stigmatized. In a bid to stop this, a new internet
site called Harassmap was launched in
October 2010 to provide Egypt's women with a new voice and a renewed sense of
empowerment. The site allows women to instantly report incidents of sexual
harassment via text message or Twitter. Each report is then pinpointed on a
digital map of Cairo, in order to determine particularly dangerous areas of the
city. Users who submit the reports remain anonymous and the collected data is
shared among activists, media and police. Women who send text alerts also
receive safety suggestions, support, and instructions on filing police reports.
however, this doesn't seem to have done much. On March 8, 2011, a demonstration to commemorate International Women's Day turned
violent when more than 200 men charged on the women – forcing some to the
ground, dragging others out of the crowd, groping and sexually harassing them
as police and military figures stood by and failed to act. The female
demonstrators were protesting against Egypt's chronic sexual harassment
problem, against the many barriers women face in public life, and against the
pervasive conservatism that curtails the freedom of women in society at large.
The women chanted slogans that had been used in the revolution itself, calling
for freedom, justice and equality. But their demonstration quickly attracted a
counter-protest. When the women argued back, many were dragged away individually
by small groups of men who attacked them. The police continued to direct
traffic around the square as the incident was taking place (Younis, 2011).
terms of mobility, poor people do not own private means of transport. There are two main
transport options for the poor: the tuk-tuk
or the mini-trucks. Tuk-tuks operate in a grey zone of unlicensed, unregistered business.
The transport authority does not consider them to be regular vehicles and hence
has neither registered nor licensed them. These three-wheeled Indian imports,
however, are too expensive for most poor people (Nassr, 2007). The other
possibility is the use of the mini-trucks. The trucks are cheaper than the tuk-tuks in that they cost 50p per
journey and have set routes. According to Sabry (2009), children usually jump
on the truck while it is moving and then pay the driver. The mini-trucks are
all unlicensed and usually very old. They cannot leave the informal settlements
as they would not be granted a license in their state to drive around the city.
A lot of the mini-trucks are driven by unlicensed under-age teenage boys who
have dropped out of school. While they serve the purpose of moving people from
the edge of the informal settlements into the depths of the different areas,
they are quite dangerous. An estimated 8,000 people die in car
accidents annually in Egypt (Hasrawi, 2010). The US Embassy in Cairo strongly recommends
that its personnel not use mini-buses in Cairo. In 2010, there were several
accidents involving these trucks and international tourist buses. In the spring
of 2010, a lorry with malfunctioning brakes slammed into stalled rush-hour
traffic resulting in a forty vehicle pileup and nineteen deaths (OSAC, 2011).
| ||Poor people do not own private means of transport ... The mini-trucks are
all unlicensed and usually very old ... (and) quite dangerous.|| |
In terms of
housing, the poor have quietly
claimed state or public lands and cemeteries on the outskirts of the city.
Bayat (1996) observes that there are more than 111 ashwa'iyyat (spontaneous communities) in greater Cairo and together
they house over six million people. The City of the Dead, a cemetery, is a good
example. It is currently inhabited by almost 800,000 people who occupy funeral
chapels and other places where the dead are buried, making them their permanent
homes. However, life here is characterized by deprivation, neglect, insecurity
and the constant threat of forcible eviction. In November 2009, Amnesty
International accused the Cairo government for condemning Cairo's poor to
living conditions that place their lives in peril. The rights group said the
government was failing to prevent rock-slides in areas around informal
settlements that house millions of Cairo's poor. In
September 2008, at least 107 people were killed and 58 were injured when a
rock-slide hit the overcrowded, eastern Cairo slum of Manshiyet Nasser
Selling personal property and
cheap products in the street has become a common way of augmenting family
income in Cairo. With
an unemployment rate of around 12 percent and significant bureaucratic
obstacles to setting up small businesses, many families and individuals simply
step onto the street and start trading. The problem is exacerbated by a youth
bulge that has become a common characteristic of many African cities. A review of the
literature reveals that youths constitute a third of Cairo's population. Assaad
and Barsoum (2007:5) observe that 83 percent of the unemployed are in the 15-29
year-old age group, and 47 percent are between the ages of 20-24. Youths with a
secondary education or above constituted 95 percent of the unemployed. Clearly
the educational system is poorly attuned to the needs of the labour market.
| ||The (unemployment) problem is exacerbated by a youth
bulge that has become a common characteristic of many African cities ... 83 percent of the unemployed are in the 15-29
year-old age group.|| |
The poor have
quietly taken over public main roads to conduct their businesses. It is
estimated that there are over 200,000 vendors in Cairo. As a result, street vendors have become a
major part of Egypt's large "informal sector" which makes up around
30 percent of the national economy. This, however, has severe limitations. Informal
vending is fraught with frustrations and uncertainties. The law requires vendors
to pay a fee of 50-100 Egyptian pounds (US$9-18) for a street trading license. The
vast majority of vendors cannot afford this. For those who can afford it, the
licenses are hardly ever granted or take too long to be granted. As a result, a
constant cat-and-mouse game ensues between illegal vendors and the municipal
police – known as the baladiyya .
To escape the municipal dragnet, the vendors are forced to pay regular bribes
to the police to ensure their continued tolerance. Those who cannot afford the bribes
are often arrested and harassed by police and their wares confiscated. This
leads to stress, a missing inventory of goods and continued suffering in many
parallel situation, this is what triggered the uprising in Tunisia. Mohamed
Bouazizi, 26, was a vegetable vendor in a small town outside Tunis. Protestors
described him as a generous man who would give free fruit and vegetables to
very poor families. He became the sole bread winner of his family when he
was 10 years old. As in Cairo, police would confiscate his scales and his
produce, or fine him for running a stall without a permit. Six months before his
attempted suicide, police sent Bouazizi a fine for 400 dinars (US$280) – the
equivalent of two months of earnings. The harassment finally became too much
for the young man. On the morning of December 17, it became physical. A
policewoman confronted him on the way to market. She returned to take his
scales from him, but Bouazizi refused to hand them over. They swore at each
other, the policewoman slapped him and, with the help of her colleagues, forced
him to the ground. The officers took away his produce and his scale. Publically
humiliated, Bouazizi tried to seek recourse. He went to the local municipality
building and demanded to meet with an official. With no official willing to
hear his grievances, the young man obtained paint fuel, returned to the street
outside the building, and set himself on fire (Yasmine, 2011).
The future of Cairo
took 18 days to get rid of President Mubarak; it is going to take more than 18
days to build institutions that can guarantee freedom and social justice. To do
this, Egyptians must have an impartial,
accountable judiciary to promote equity, social justice and human dignity. They
must have a strong civil society that is built on respect for freedom
of expression, freedom to organize and freedom to assemble. There must be
freedom for people to express diverse views and develop unconventional and
unique ideas, and members of society must have the confidence to engage and
interact with each other, and to build mutual trust while acknowledging their
differences. Likewise, they've
got to rebuild the economy. A new constitution has to be written that guarantees
these important components of the rule of law and enshrines democracy.
In addition, the government and civil society must build a strong partnership
for creating horizontal connections among divided groups as well as vertical
connections between the state and its citizens. The long-suffering, brave
people of Cairo will benefit from such change and only then be able to move
forward to address the serious daily life problems encountered in their city –
endemic problems that have been accumulating for decades.
Timothy Gachanga teaches Peace
Education and Conflict Resolution and Transformation at Tangaza College,
Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). He is also the Coordinator of the
Community Peace Museums Foundation (CPMF) and an advisory board member of the
International Network of Museums of Peace (INMP).
Bibliography & Links
Asef, Bayat (1996). Cairo's Poor: Dilemmas of Survival and
Solidarity. Available online at http://www.jstor.org/stable/3013030.
and Barsoum, G. (2007). Youth Exclusion in Egypt: In search of "Second Chances". Middle
East Youth Initiative Working Paper.
Center for Women's Rights (ECWR), August 2008. Available online at http://www.preventgbvafrica.org/content/ecwr%E2%80%99s-august-2008-updates-campaigns-and-analysis-issues-effect-sexual-harassment-economy.
Hasrawi, Salah, "8
Americans tourists killed in Egypt bus crash", CBS News, December
26, 2010. Available online at http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/12/26/world/main7185668.shtml.
Jensen, John, "Priced
out of Cairo meat market," Global
Post , May 24, 2010. Available online
Johnstone, Cynthia, "In Egypt, long
queues for bread that is almost free." Reuters, April 6, 2008. Available online at http://ca.reuters.com/article/oddlyEnoughNews/idCAL0404033220080406.
Jason, "Organs for Sale: Egypt comes under pressure to end thriving underground organ trade." Associated
Press. March 17, 2009. Available online
Abraham (1989). Lincoln: Speeches and Writings, 1832 – 1858. Edited by Don E.
Fehrenbacher. New York, Library of America.
Sukhpreet, "Amnesty: Egypt's housing plans failing Cairo's poor." TopNews.in. Available online at http://www.topnews.in/amnesty-egypts-housing-plans-failing-cairos-poor-2236922.
K.J. "Egypt's poor selling organs to survive." Digital Journal , December 28, 2009. Available online at http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/284611.
Nassr, Nahed, "Tuk-tuk
Talk," Al-Ahram Weekly, 8-14 November, 2007. Available
online at http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2007/870/fe1.htm.
Rothe, Nina, "Life
Imitating Art: How Cairo 678 forecasted the Lora Logan Incident," Huffpost
Entertainment , May 16, 2011. Available online at http://www.huffingpost.com/e-mina-rothe/life-imitating-art-ca_b_8623332.html.
Ryan, Yasmine, "The tragic end of a
street vendor." Aljazeera News ,
20 January 2011. Available online at http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/01/201111684242518839.html.
(2009). Poverty in Greater Cairo:
Underestimating and misrepresenting poverty .
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), UK.
2011 Crime and Safety Report," United States Department of State (OSAC), 21st April 2011. Available online at https://www.osac.gov/Pages/ContentReportPDF.aspx?cid=10882.
Younis, Jumanah, "Egypt's Revolution means nothing if its women are not free." The Guardian , March 9, 2011. Available online at http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/mar/09/egypt-revolution-women.
by Mik Missakabo
|Kinshasa et la dynamique urbaine|
(For the English version, click on
"Kinshasa and the Urban Dynamic".)
Dans l’imagination populaire, les images qu’évoque le mot « Afrique » sont celles des safaris, animaux exotiques et villages pittoresques. Et pourtant, selon Anna Tibaijuka, secrétaire générale adjointe des Nations Unies et directrice d’ONU-Habitat « L’Afrique s’urbanise plus rapidement que tout autre continent, à tel point que d’ici 2030, l’Afrique cessera d’être un continent rural. Malgré cela, peu de leaders africains prennent la question au sérieux ». Pour les experts s’exprimant à travers la presse internationale ainsi que la multitude de rapports tant de l’ONU que d’autres organisations internationales, l’urbanisation à Kinshasa comme ailleurs en Afrique galope à une vitesse alarmante.
L’urbanisation de l’Afrique nous est présentée comme étant intrinsèquement un problème social qu’il est ardu de résoudre. En est-il un? Même si elle est l’accoucheuse de divers maux affligeant les villes africaines telles que la sous-alimentation, le chômage endémique, la divagation, la délinquance juvénile et la prostitution, l’urbanisation n’en est pas forcément la génitrice. L’urbanisation n’est pas à présenter seulement comme un problème, on peut aussi l’imaginer comme porteuse des solutions à certains défis endémiques.
| ||L’urbanisation n’est pas à présenter seulement comme un problème, on peut aussi l’imaginer comme porteuse des solutions à certains défis endémiques. || |
A en croire René de Maximy, « être africain et citadin d’une grande cité, ce n’est pas facile. Surtout quand cette cité s’appelle Kinshasa ». De Maximy décrit les Kinois (habitants de Kinshasa) comme « …vivant agglutinés et misérables au bord du fleuve le plus puissant du continent!... ». Pour ceux qui connaissent Kinshasa, ces propos creux et simplistes escamotent une réalité bien complexe. Pour Pascal Kapagama et Rachel Waterhouse (2009), « la ville de Kinshasa est, sans conteste, le reflet des paradoxes de la République Démocratique du Congo dont elle est la capitale ». Des paradoxes qui se réduisent au tandem: pays riche et population pauvre!
Nous nous proposons de discuter de la dynamique urbaine de Kinshasa, la capitale de la RDC. Cette importante agglomération urbaine, officiellement vieille d’un peu plus d’un siècle, est une des plus grandes villes d’Afrique subsaharienne. Avec plus de 10 millions d’habitants éparpillés sur une superficie de 9 965 km2, Kinshasa est la ville-province la plus peuplée de la RDC. Les jeunes de moins de 20 ans représentent plus de 60% de la population. Avec un taux de natalité bien au-delà de 50%, de tout le pays, elle est aussi l’agglomération la plus sujette à une expansion incontrôlée des quartiers populaires. Il y a 25 ans, la croissance était d’environ 7 km2 par an.
Historiquement parlant, Kinshasa est une ville toute agglomération d’environ 5000 habitants vivant essentiellement du commerce. Les origines des villes africaines sont souvent expliquées à travers deux cadres théoriques qui s’opposent : la thèse africaniste et la thèse classique. Faisant fi des critères de taille et de densité, la thèse classique soutient que l’Afrique n’avait pas de ville avant la colonisation européenne. Comme on peut s’y attendre, la thèse africaniste soutient l’existence des villes africaines avant l’arrivée de colons européens. Et, la colonisation en a changé la dynamique.
Lumenganeso (1995) avance qu’il y au moins 40 000 ans que le site actuel de la ville de Kinshasa abritait des ateliers de taille de pierres et des sièges d’importantes industries lithiques. Aussi, il fait référence aux témoignages des missionnaires tels que F. Botninck, William H. Bentley et Geronimo de Montesarchio qui attestent de l’existence d’une importante agglomération de gros villages au XVIIe siècle. Ces faits indiquent que Kinshasa était un milieu de vie bien avant l’arrivée de Henry M. Stanley. Avec une population estimée à 30 000 habitants regroupés dans 66 différents villages, Kinshasa était aussi un marché accueillant divers groupes ethniques. Sans une présence humaine significative et un appui bienveillant des habitants, Stanley ne s’y serait pas installé. Selon Léon de Saint Moulin (1971), ces mêmes communautés qui ont accueilli Stanley ont été par la suite systématiquement détruites par les autorités coloniales belges.
| ||Kinshasa était un milieu de vie bien avant l’arrivée de Henry M. Stanley. Avec une population estimée à 30 000 habitants regroupés dans 66 différents villages, Kinshasa était aussi un marché accueillant divers groupes ethniques. || |
Connu sous l’appellation de Ntsasa -qui veut dire « marché »- pendant la période précoloniale et élevé au statut d’agglomération urbaine en 1895, Kinshasa (ou Léopoldville) est devenu la capitale du Congo en 1929. Sans toutefois faire fi de l’histoire pré-coloniale de Kinshasa, nous convenons avec Michel Lusamba (2008) que Kinshasa, tel que nous le connaissons aujourd’hui, est une « grande ville née du contact de la civilisation mercantile et chrétienne d’une Europe brutale ».
Dans les quartiers populaires, l’autorité coloniale utilise l’origine ethnique comme critère déterminant dans l’allocation des lots. Selon Lusamba (2008), l’organisation spatiale de Kinshasa avait des objectifs spécifiques : « …économiques afin de faciliter l’exportation des matières premières, sociales à travers le bien-être des européens résidents au Congo et esthétiques à travers la production de villas et des beaux paysages ». Ainsi, le pouvoir colonial transforme Kinshasa en une ville de type ségrégatif avec un centre commercial, administratif et résidentiel pour les Européens. Les Africains « …étaient surtout admis et reconnus comme population laborieuse, à la disposition d’une économie urbaine extravertie, fonctionnant par et pour la Belgique… » (De Maximy, 1984).
L’état du marché
Même dans ses incarnations antérieures, Kinshasa a toujours été un espace de vie multiethnique facilitant le contact entre divers groupes tels que les Batéké, les Bahumbu, les Bakongo, les Bayanzi ainsi que les Bangala. Aujourd’hui, presque toutes les ethnies de la RDC y sont représentées.
Selon Marc Pain (1984), le marché est à la base de l’organisation urbaine de Kinshasa. Il avance que c’est autour des marchés que se forment et fonctionnent les divers quartiers de cette ville. Presque tous les ménages de Kinshasa s’adonnent au micro-commerce pour arrondir les fins du mois. En grande majorité pratiqué par les femmes, le micro-commerce permet d’endiguer les effets néfastes d’une inflation. L’intensité de ces activités humaines fait que la nature est souvent mise à mal. Par exemple, la production du charbon de bois a un impact dévastateur sur la végétation en contribuant au ravinement qui menace plusieurs quartiers populaires.
Ville et cité
Fidèle à la tradition coloniale, Kinshasa offre encore deux types d’espace de vie que l’on appelle communément : la « ville » et la « cité ». L’autorité coloniale voulait une ville mais pas forcément une cité au sens d’une unité politique et économique conférant des prérogatives à ses habitants. D’un côté, il y a les quartiers bourgeois instaurés et légués par l’autorité coloniale belge. De l’autre, la cité était essentiellement constituée des camps de travailleurs. Autrement dit, « ce sont des cités populaires moins planifiées et opposées aux quartiers européens. Elles sont séparées de ces derniers par des zones neutres telles que le camp militaire » (Lusamba, 2008, p.22). Dans ces cités populaires ou « centre extra-coutumier », l’autorité coloniale utilise l’origine ethnique comme critère déterminant dans l’allocation des lots. Cette pratique a effectivement créé et accentué les clivages sociaux.
| ||Dans ces cités populaires ou « centre extra-coutumier », l’autorité coloniale utilise l’origine ethnique comme critère déterminant dans l’allocation des lots. Cette pratique a effectivement créé et accentué les clivages sociaux. || |
Ainsi la ville a bénéficié d’une urbanisation reflétant une vision ségrégationniste du développement de l’Afrique. « Dans les quartiers européens, construits dans les secteurs les mieux exposés à la brise et bien ventilés comme le bord du fleuve, le mont Ngaliema, la pointe de la Gombe et les collines de Mbinza, la législation foncière interdisait de céder, vendre ou louer les lopins de terre à des non-européens. Y circuler la nuit et y habiter étaient formellement prohibés aux africains, sauf pour les domestiques vivant avec sa famille dans une dépendance de la maison du patron blanc » (Lusamba, 2008, p.29). Ces clivages sociaux persistent encore et informe la gestion urbaine.
Après l’indépendance, une nouvelle élite se forme. A celle-ci s’adjoint une classe moyenne plus ou moins dépendante de l’oligarchie politique. Dans la cité, les infrastructures de base sont insuffisantes. C’est ainsi que les beaux quartiers ont continué à bénéficier des investissements importants de l’État. Malheureusement, cela n’a pas été le cas pour les quartiers populaires qui accueillent la grande majorité des néo-kinois.
Comme à l’époque coloniale, l’investissement de l’État s’y limite souvent à quelques routes en terre battue ainsi que quelques points d’approvisionnement en eau potable.
La disparité entre la ville et la cité est frappante. Kinshasa comprend des quartiers résidentiels huppés ainsi que des quartiers populaires (anciennes cités, cités planifiées et quartiers semi-ruraux). Avec l’abolition du régime de travail forcé qu’imposaient les autorités belges aux autochtones, les quartiers populaires ont connu une croissance démographique importante due à l’exode rural. Cette tendance s’est maintenue même après l’indépendance. Par exemple, Kinshasa est passé de 1 650 000 habitants en 1975 à 3 000 000 habitants en 1985, exacerbant ainsi la dépendance économique de la cité vis-à-vis de la ville. Ce qui explique la prolifération des circuits illicites voire frauduleux de l’économie du quotidien.
La combinaison de cette croissance démographique ainsi que le flux migratoire a eu l’effet générateur de ce que René de Maximy (1984) appelle les extensions excentriques . Sous le règne de Mobutu, ces quartiers se sont développés sans qu’on y prenne garde. Aujourd’hui, ces extensions excentriques représentent plus de deux tiers du site de Kinshasa. Pour la majorité des habitants de ces quartiers populaires, l’habitat est marqué par la pauvreté. Des fois, la pénurie les pousse à recourir à des solutions extrêmes. En janvier dernier, Radio France International rapportait la présence des familles entières vivant dans le cimetière de Kinsuka ou l’on procède encore aux enterrements.
Habiter un quartier populaire implique bien des défis. La ville cesse d’y être ville! Les avantages socio-économiques de la ville y sont dilués. Hélas, loin de la ville veut dire aussi loin des emplois. L’inexistence d’un réseau de transport en comment adéquat fait que le problème de transport se pose avec beaucoup plus d’acuité pour les habitants de quartiers populaires. Cette carence s’étend aux autres services de base qui relèvent de la compétence de l’État.
En dépit de l’hypercroissance démographique ainsi que les problèmes environnementaux que cette dernière entraîne, la gestion urbaine semble souffrir d’un manque de planification. Le fonctionnement interne des extensions excentriques obéit la même logique imposée par les autorités coloniales et, par la suite, par divers gouvernements nationaux qui a toujours eu comme conséquence : un manque criant d’infrastructure et d’équipement.
Infrastructures et équipement
Kinshasa est une ville de contrastes frappants. Depuis l’époque coloniale, la gestion de la cité n’a pas toujours été le principal souci des autorités. Le contraste entre la ville et la cité est saisissant. On y trouve des quartiers commerciaux et résidentiels de haut de gamme juxtaposés aux habitations d’une modestie déconcertante. Avec sa forte concentration d’immeubles à plusieurs étages, le centre-ville situé dans la commune de la Gombe fait pâlir les quartiers populaires des communes voisines telles que Barumbu, Lingwala et Kinshasa.
| ||Kinshasa est une ville de contrastes frappants... Le contraste entre la ville et la cité est saisissant. On y trouve des quartiers commerciaux et résidentiels de haut de gamme juxtaposés aux habitations d’une modestie déconcertante. || |
Lusamba (2008) remarque que l’implantation des quartiers populaires comporte des biais. On s’aperçoit assez vite de la disparité entre ville et cité . En fait, les quartiers populaires ne s’intègrent pas à la morphologie urbaine. Ce manque d’intégration est très évident aux niveaux des infrastructures et équipement. Par exemple, le réseau de canalisation nécessaire à l’évacuation des eaux de pluie est vétuste. En fait, il n’est plus en phase avec le réaménagement actuel des infrastructures routières. Toute pluie de plus d’une heure entraine des débordements de caniveaux. Radio Okapi rapportait qu’en dépit des travaux de réhabilitation des infrastructures routières nouvellement réalisées par les entreprises chinoises, les caniveaux dégorgeaient les eaux de pluie sur la chaussée.
Et pourtant, les infrastructures routières constituent le « système nerveux et circulatoire » de la ville. Les initiatives d’amélioration des infrastructures et équipements ont diminué sensiblement depuis l’accession de la RDC à l’indépendance. Cette carence d’infrastructure et d’équipement se répercutent tant sur la viabilité des biens d’utilité publique que sur la circulation des gens et des biens. Depuis 2009, d’importants travaux de réaménagement de principaux tronçons routiers sont en cours. En dépit de l’extension du réseau routier, se déplacer rapidement reste néanmoins l’apanage des privilégiés. Pour le Kinois moyen, le déplacement se fait souvent à pied.
Dans les quartiers populaires, se brancher aux réseaux urbains de distribution d’eau et d’électricité n’est pas chose facile. Bien qu’un peu partout à Kinshasa, on trouve l’eau à fleur de terre, au début du mois de mars, Radio Okapi rapportait que l’eau potable était « …devenue une denrée rare dans certains quartiers à Kinshasa ». Paradoxalement, le coût de l’eau est souvent plus élevé dans les quartiers populaires qu’au cœur de la ville . Pour ce qui est de l’électricité, l’insuffisance de transformateurs fait que la régie de distribution d’électricité recourt au délestage pour éviter une surcharge du réseau. Bien évidemment, les quartiers populaires ne sont pas prioritaires dans l’ordre de distribution.
Mode de gestion
La mode de gestion urbaine semble être une constante dans l’histoire de Kinshasa. « De la création de poste de Léopoldville (1881) et celui de Kinshasa (1883) jusqu’au 30 juin 1960, date marquant l’indépendance de la République Démocratique du Congo, la ville exprimait l’organisation sociale dans l’espace selon les seuls besoins et les seuls projets des colonisateurs. Même l’habitation destinée aux noirs dans les cités dites indigènes répondait à des normes établies uniquement par les belges » (de Maximy cité par Lusamba, 2008, p.27). Avec l’indépendance, l’élite politique nationale s’est substituée aux autorités coloniales.
Les défis auxquels fait face Kinshasa semblent être intimement liés à la gestion du pays en général. La centralisation du pouvoir qui caractérisait le régime colonial et, par la suite, celui de Mobutu informe encore la gestion politique et administrative de la ville. Comme nous l’avons remarqué plus haut, la gestion de Kinshasa répond encore à la logique de l’urbanisme colonial. On peut dire l’après indépendance a exacerbé les manquements hérités des autorités coloniales. Ainsi la gestion de la ville est sclérosée par l’État-ogre.
L’affaiblissement de l’état se traduit par l’incapacité d’offrir des services urbains de base. Et pourtant, la conjonction des forces politiques et macro-économiques impose l’exode rural comme solution viable à la problématique existentielle des jeunes habitants en diverses zones rurales. Ces nouveaux venus viennent gonfler les effectifs des quartiers populaires et, comme ceux qui les ont précédés, ils seront abandonnés à eux-mêmes. Cet état des choses laisse croire à l’absence d’un projet urbanistique découlant d’une vision moderne de la ville. Le défi d’absorber les nouveaux venus ainsi que celui de gérer l’impact des activités humaines sur l’environnement se posent avec beaucoup d’urgence. Mais, le manque d’une planification nous indique l’absence d’une implication réelle des autorités politiques et administratives dans l’instauration des conditions adéquates de vie sur toute étendue de la ville. Le peu que l’état investit dans les secteurs prioritaires tels que la santé et l’éducation, est généralement dans les grandes villes.
Comme dans bien des pays en développement, ce n’est pas l’industrialisation qui anime le processus d’urbanisation de Kinshasa. C’est plutôt la pauvreté. Les habitants des quartiers populaires se débrouillent pour mettre sur pied grâce à leur créativité ainsi que leur génie, divers mécanismes qui leur permettant de faire face aux défis quotidiens avec un brin de dignité.
Pour Pius Ngandu-Nkashama (1979), ce n’est pas par hasard que l’essor des agglomérations urbaines et industrielles coïncide avec la naissance de la musique populaire urbaine. Il soutient que la musique congolaise « …était exigée par le dépassement d’une situation sociale qui achevait de désintégrer l’homme traditionnel ». En fait, le son de la musique congolaise est un produit de la dynamique urbaine des quartiers populaires devenu indispensable à la vie quotidienne du congolais. L’espace public étant confisqué, le son offre un ersatz de liberté qui facilite et permet l’expression de l’imagination. Ainsi, la musique devient plus qu’une métaphore illustrant la créativité et l’imagination dont la fécondité résulte de la diversité culturelle de Kinshasa.
| ||L’espace public étant confisqué, le son offre un ersatz de liberté qui facilite et permet l’expression de l’imagination. || |
Déjà à l’époque coloniale, la cité ou le quartier populaire était un espace de vie accueillant divers groupes ethniques. Chaque groupe était riche de plus ou moins une culture musicale ayant une fonction divinatoire, incantatoire ou simplement ludique. Au contact avec la ville, xylophone, tam-tam, likembe, flûte et autres se voient remplacés ou suppléés par les instruments modernes tels que la batterie, la guitare, le saxophone ainsi que la trompette. Dès le début, le son était en porte à faux vis-à-vis des autorités coloniales. Antoine Kolosoy alias Papa Wendo, un des pionniers de la musique congolaise connu pour sa chanson Marie-Louise , eut à purger une peine de prison sous l’instigation de l’église catholique qui l’accusait de pratiquer le satanisme.
Depuis les années 40, le son catalyse le sens de l’identité ainsi que la fierté nationale. C’est à travers le son , entre ville et cité , que s’élabore « la société congolaise en devenir ». Souvent, les paroles reflètent les préoccupations des masses de la cité . Indépendance Cha Cha de Joseph Kabasele alias le Grand Kallé illustre bien ceci. Les paroles de cette chanson exprimaient éloquemment les aspirations de la population. D’ailleurs, le Grand Kallé contribua à la campagne électorale de Patrice Emery Lumumba en lui prêtant sa voiture. Pour l’une des vedettes populaires de la musique congolaise, Werrason, c’est la musique qui garde la nation congolaise en vie.
Kinshasa « …a une culture particulière qui fait parler d’elle, de ses habitants, de ses artistes, musiciens particulièrement. Elle est chargée de symboles et comme toute ville, d’une histoire » (Kapagama & Waterhouse, 2009, p.1). Les diverses histoires de Kinshasa se confondent avec les diverses histoires du Congo. La gestion matérielle de la ville de Kinshasa est reléguée à la périphérie. Et pourtant, cette mégapole incarne bien le cœur ainsi l’âme de la nation congolaise. Il est difficile de ne pas s’y sentir chez soi. Malgré les conditions de vie difficiles qu’impose Kinshasa, peu des gens voudraient retourner au village. Ah, Kinshasa kiesse Yaya , disent les Kinois. Comme le dit René de Maximy, « on y pressent que Kinshasa pourrait être une ville à l’économie florissante, où il fait bon vivre ».
Kinshasa est un espace d’action partagé. Cependant, la création de représentations communes est un produitdes quartiers populaires. Les écarts culturels s’y négocient et une identité s’y forge. Loin d’être statique, cette identité kinoise est riche et dynamique. Elle s’aventure bien au-delà des carcans imposés par la colonisation ou les couleurs politiques en vigueur. Le capital est remarquable par la vivacité de la société civile. Malheureusement, le foisonnement des églises du réveil cloisonnent l’espace public et court-circuitent le système d’action en en diminuant l’envergure. On s'attendrait à ce que les diverses composantes de la société civile contribuent au nivellement de cet espace d'action qu'est Kinshasa au lieu de creér des porte-à-faux compromettant la distincte territorialité qui semble animer les Kinois. Malgré tout, ce sens de la territorialité contribue au développement de la citoyenneté qui est le fondement d’un état démocratique. Comme partout ailleurs, la viabilité de Kinshasa dépendra de son capital social, et du poids des intérêts communs.
| ||Kinshasa est un espace d’action partagé. Cependant, la création de représentations communes est un produitdes quartiers populaires. Les écarts culturels s’y négocient et une identité s’y forge. || |
Kapagama & Waterhouse (2009) suggère que Kinshasa est aussi un lieu caractérisé par un ordre caché dans le désordre apparent. Divers schémas d’expression y « organisent la vie locale en dépit de l’absence généralisée de services publiques et mêmes, des fois, de l’état tout court ». N’est-ce pas possible de voir quelques opportunités en ce que J-P Thompson, dans l'éditorial de cette série sur les villes africaines, appelle le « nœud gordien de défis » ?
Croissance et développement
Même si elle est co-génératrice des maux qui affligent l’Afrique, l’urbanisation peut être un facteur contribuant à la renaissance de l’Afrique, qui inclut la viabilité économique et écologique. Comme le souligne Anna Tibaijuka « …l’investissement dans les infrastructures et les logements dans les villes africaines constitue une formidable opportunité pour le secteur privé ».
Bien d’avis experts concordent que le site écologique de Kinshasa est « favorable et propice au développement d’une grande ville ». Avec 200 km2 favorable au développement urbain et sous la poussée d’une inexorable croissance démographique, Kinshasa se transforme en une mégapole. Si cette tendance se maintient, Kinshasa comptera bientôt 12 millions se propulsant ainsi dans le groupe de 30 plus grosses agglomérations de la planète. Cependant, une question s’impose: comment maîtriser cette croissance et faciliter la prestation de services de base à la population?
La croissance continuant d’amener sa trame de défis, la viabilité de Kinshasa dépend d’une vision et une planification qui intègre les habitants de la cité dans un schéma de modernisation. Par exemple, faut-il promouvoir des « extensions verticales »? Pourquoi pas! Au moins, elles ont le mérite de minimiser les distances séparant l’habitant et les points de services essentiels tels que les écoles, les hôpitaux, etc. et, par voie de conséquence, minimisent aussi les empreintes écologiques en faisant la promotion d’un mode de vie dépendant moins de l’automobile. Ainsi, il incombe aux nouvelles autorités de forger une vision qui fait de Kinshasa un lieu qui attire le talent ainsi que l’ingénuité afin d’actualiser son rôle de moteur du « corridor de développement régional ». Et, surtout que l’on fasse de Kinshasa une ville où il fait bon vivre.
Kinshasa and the Urban Dynamic
by Mik Missakabo
In the popular imagination, the images evoked by the word “Africa” are safaris, exotic animals, and picturesque villages. Yet, according to Anna Tibaijuka, Under-Secretary General and Director of the UN-Habitat, “Africa is urbanizing faster than any other continent to the point that sometime between now and 2030, Africa will cease to be a rural continent. In spite of this, few African leaders are taking this issue seriously.” For the experts writing for the international press and in many reports, as much from the UN as from other international organizations, the urbanization of Kinshasa, like other African places, is galloping ahead at an alarming rate.
The urbanization of Africa is presented to us as essentially a social problem which is difficult to resolve. But is it? Even if it is the midwife for various ills afflicting African cities, such as under-nourishment, endemic unemployment, alienation, juvenile delinquency and prostitution, urbanization has not inevitably created them. Urbanization should not be presented solely as a problem; it can also be seen as bringing solutions to some endemic challenges.
| ||Urbanization should not be presented solely as a problem; it can also be seen as bringing solutions to some endemic challenges. || |
If we can believe René de Maximy, “to be African and the inhabitant of a large city is not easy. Particularly if this city is Kinshasa.” De Maximy describes the Kinois (those living in Kinshasa) as “living wretchedly stuck together on the banks of the greatest river on the continent!” To those who know Kinshasa, these hollow, simplistic words hide a very complex reality. To Pascal Kapagama and Rachel Waterhouse (2009) “the city of Kinshasa is, no doubt about it, the reflection of the paradoxes of the Democratic Republic of Congo, of which it is the capital.” Paradoxes which can be reduced to one:
rich country and poor people!
This paper will discuss the urban dynamic of Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC. As an important urban conglomerate, Kinshasa is officially a little more than a century old, but it is one of the largest cities in sub-Saharan Africa. With more than 10 million inhabitants, scattered over an area of 9,965 km2, it is the most densely populated city-province in the DRC. Young people under 20 make up more than 60% of the population. With a birthrate well above the 50% of the country as a whole, it is also the conurbation most at risk of an uncontrollable expansion of its working-class districts. For the last 25 years, it has grown by around 7 km2 a year.
Historically speaking, Kinshasa was a closely built up city of 5000 inhabitants living essentially on commerce. The origins of African cities are often explained by two opposing theoretical frameworks: the Africanist thesis and the classic thesis. Making light of the criteria of size and density, the classic thesis maintains that Africa had no cities before European colonization. As might be expected, the Africanist thesis insists on the existence of African cities before the arrival of European colonists. And it was colonization that changed the dynamic.
Lumenganeso (1995) argued that for at least 40,000 years, the present site of the city of Kinshasa supported stonemasons’ workshops and important centres for stone-working industries. He also referred to the witness of missionaries like F. Botninck, William H. Bentley, and Geronimo de Montesarchio who attested to the existence of an important conglomeration of large villages in the 17th century. These facts show that Kinshasa was a flourishing centre long before the arrival of Henry M. Stanley. With a population estimated at 30,000 inhabitants, grouped in 66 different villages, Kinshasa was also a market attracting various ethnic groups. Without a significant human presence and the friendly support of the inhabitants, Stanley would not have camped there. According to Léon de Saint Moulin (1971), these very communities which welcomed Stanley were later systematically destroyed by the Belgian colonial authorities.
| ||Kinshasa was a flourishing centre long before the arrival of Henry M. Stanley. With a population estimated at 30,000 inhabitants, grouped in 66 different villages, Kinshasa was also a market attracting various ethnic groups. || |
Known as Ntsasa―meaning “market”―during the precolonial period and raised to the status of an urban conglomeration in 1895, Kinshasa (or Leopoldville) became the capital of the Congo in 1929. Without, however, ignoring Kinshasa’s pre-colonial history, we agree with Michel Lusamba (2008) that the Kinshasa we know today is a “great city born out of contact with the Christian and mercantile civilization of a brutal Europe.”
In the working-class districts, colonial authority used ethnic origin as the determining criterion for the allocation of land. According to Lusamba (2008), the spatial organization of Kinshasa had specific objectives : “economic, to facilitate the export of primary materials, social for the wellbeing of the European residents in the Congo, and esthetic, for the production of villas and beautiful landscapes.” Thus colonial power transformed Kinshasa into a segregated city with a commercial, administrative, and residential centre for the Europeans. The Africans “were accepted and recognized primarily as labourers, at the disposition of an urban, outward-looking economy, functioning with and for Belgium.” (De Maximy, 1984).
The State of the Market
Even in its earlier incarnations, Kinshasa had always provided space for multi-ethnic life, facilitating contact between various groups, such as the Batéké, the Bahumbu, the Bakongo, the Bayanzi and the Bangala. Today, almost all the DRC’s ethnicities are represented there.
According to Marc Pain (1984), the market is the base for Kinshasa’s urban organization. He claims that the various districts of the city formed and functioned around the markets. Almost all the households in Kinshasa are involved in micro-commerce to keep going to the end of the month. Largely run by women, micro-commerce allows them to counteract the harmful effects of inflation. The intensity of these human activities often takes a toll on natural resources. For example, the production of charcoal has a devastating impact on vegetation, contributing to an increase in gullies which menace several working-class areas.
Ville and Cité
Faithful to colonial tradition, Kinshasa still has two kinds of living space, called locally the ville and the cité. The colonial authority wanted a ville , but not inevitably a cité in the sense of a political and economic unity which would give its inhabitants prerogatives. On the one hand, there were the bourgeois districts, set up and allotted by the Belgian colonial authority. On the other the cité was essentially made up of workers camps. In other words, “they were the people’s cités, less planned and distinguished from the European districts. They were separated from the latter by neutral zones like a military camp” (Lusamba, 2008, p. 22). In these people’s cités or “informal centres,” the colonial authority used ethic origin as a criterion to determine who got land. This practice effectively created and exaggerated social divisions.
| ||In these people’s cités or “informal centres,” the colonial authority used ethic origin as a criterion to determine who got land. This practice effectively created and exaggerated social divisions. || |
Thus the city got a form of urbanization reflecting the segregationist vision of African development. “In the European districts, constructed in the areas which got the most wind and were best ventilated such as the banks of the river, Ngaliema mountain, Gombe point and the Mbinza hills, land laws prohibited leaving, selling or renting plots of land to non-Europeans. Moving around there at night or living there were formally prohibited for Africans, except for domestics living with their families and working in a white owner’s house” (Lusamba, 2008, p. 29). These social divides still persist and affect urban growth.
After independence, a new elite developed. Joined to this was a middle-class more or less dependent on the political oligarchy. In the cité the basic infrastructure is inadequate, because the better districts have continued to benefit from important state investment. Unfortunately this has not been the case for the people’s districts which have taken in the majority of new Kinois. As in the colonial period, the state’s investment is often limited to several beaten-earth roads and several outlets where drinkable water is provided.
The disparity between the ville and the cité is striking. Kinshasa includes uppercrust residential areas as well as people’s districts (old cités, planned districts, and semi-rural districts). With the abolition of the system of forced labour imposed by the Belgian authorities on the natives, the people’s districts experienced important demographic growth due to rural exodus. This tendency continued, even after independence. For example, Kinshasa grew from 1,650,000 inhabitants in 1975 to 3,000,000 inhabitants in 1985, thus exacerbating the economic dependence of the cité on the ville . This explains the proliferation of illicit even fraudulent dealings in the economy of daily life.
The combination of this demographic growth and flood of migration have had the effect of generating what René de Maximy (1984) calls eccentric extensions . During Mobutu’s rule, these districts developed without anyone noticing. Today these eccentric extensions make up more than two-thirds of the Kinshasa site. For the majority of the inhabitants of these people’s districts, the environment is marked by poverty. Sometimes penury drives them to desperate solutions. Last January, Radio France International reported the presence of whole families living in the Kinsuka cemetery where burials were still taking place.
Living in a people’s district involves many challenges. The city ceases to be a city! The socio-economic advantages of the city are diluted. Unfortunately, being far from the city means being far from work. The lack of a transportation network in any way adequate means that the problem of transport is far more acute for the inhabitants of these districts. This deficiency extends to other basic services which are state responsibilities.
In addition to the demographic super-growth and the environmental problems it brings with it, urban development seems to suffer from lack of planning. The internal functions of the excentric extensions follow the same logic imposed by the colonial authorities, and in turn by various national governments, and as a result have always cried out for infrastructure and equipment.
Infrastructure and Equipment
Kinshasa is a city of striking contrasts. Since colonial times, the administration of the cité has never been the authorities’ principal concern. The contrast between the ville and the cité is stark. There are classy commercial and residential districts cheek by jowl with shockingly mean housing. With its high concentration of multi-storey buildings, the city centre located in the Gombe district overshadows the working-class districts of neighbouring communes like Barumbu, Lingwala, and Kinshasa.
| ||Kinshasa is a city of striking contrasts... The contrast between the ville and the cité is stark. There are classy commercial and residential districts cheek by jowl with shockingly mean housing. || |
Lusamba (2008) notes that the establishment of people’s districts brings discrimination. The disparity between ville and cité is grasped very quickly. The people’s districts are not integrated into the urban morphology. This lack of integration is obvious when it comes to infrastructure and equipment. For example, the network of drainage channels necessary for rain water run-off is dilapidated. In fact it no longer fits with the current restructuring of the roads. Rain lasting more than an hour causes the gutters to overflow. Radio Okapi reported that despite rehabilitation work on the road infrastructure recently undertaken by Chinese companies, rainwater still overflows from the gutters into the road.
Yet roads constitute the nerves and circulation of the city. Attempts to improve infrastructure and equipment have noticeably diminished since the DRC gained independence. This inadequacy has as great an effect on the viability of public services as on the circulation of people and goods. Since 2009, important reconstruction work has been going on on major stretches of road. Nevertheless, despite the extension of the road network, moving swiftly from place to place is still the perk of the privileged. The average Kinois often walks.
In the people’s districts, connecting to the urban distribution networks for water and electricity is not easy. Almost everywhere in Kinshasa, the water supply is laid at ground level. At the beginning of March, Radio Okapi reported that drinkable water had “become a rare commodity in certain Kinshasa districts.” Paradoxically, the cost of water is often higher in the people’s districts than in the heart of the city. As for electricity, the shortage of transformers means that regulation of electricity supply relies on temporary diversions to avoid overloading the system. Obviously, the people’s districts are not a priority when it comes to distribution.
Urban management seems to have been a constant in the history of Kishasa. “From the creation of the outposts of Léopoldville (1881) and Kinshasa (1883) to June 30, 1960, the date marking the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the city has organized its social space to suit only the needs and projects of the colonizers. Even habitation intended for blacks in so-called ‘native’ districts mirrored the norms established solely by the Belgians” (de Maximy, cited in Lusamba, 2008, p. 27). With independence, the national political elite took the place of the colonial authorities.
The challenges which face Kinshasa seem to be intimately tied to the administration of the country as a whole. The centralization of power which characterized the colonial regime, and in turn that of Mobutu, still governs the political and administrative management of the city. As was said earlier, the administration of Kinshasa still mirrors the logic of colonial urbanism. It could be said that the aftermath of independence has exacerbated the failings inherited from the colonial authorities. Thus the administration of the city is ossified by the ogre-state.
The weakening of the state leads to an incapacity to offer basic urban services. Despite this, a combination of political and macro-economic forces affecting the rest of the country offers exodus as an attractive solution to the current problem of young people living in various rural areas. These newcomers have swollen the population of the people’s districts and like those who preceded them, they will be left to their own devices. This state of affairs suggests there is no urban plan with a modern vision of the city. The challenge of absorbing the newcomers and mitigating the impact of human activity on the environment is an urgent one. But the lack of a plan shows that the political and administrative authorities have no real stake in setting up adequate living conditions throughout the city. The little that the state invests in priority sectors such as health and education is usually focused on the big cities.
As in many developing countries, it is not industrialization that is animating the process of urbanization in Kinshasa. Rather, it is poverty. Through their creativity and their ingenuity, the inhabitants of the people’s districts manage to set up various mechanisms which let them face the daily challenges with a scrap of dignity.
For Pius Ngandu-Nkashama (1979), it is no accident that the booming urban conglomeration coincides with birth of an urban popular music. He claims that Congolese music “was needed because of an impossible social situation which had totally destroyed the traditional man.” In fact, the sound of Congolese music is a product of the urban dynamic of the people’s districts which is indispensable to the daily life of the Congolese. Since public space has been confiscated, the sound offers an imitation of freedom which facilitates and allows imaginative expression. So music becomes more than a metaphor, illustrating the creativity and imagination whose richness is a result of Kinshasa’s cultural diversity.
| ||Since public space has been confiscated, the sound offers an imitation of freedom which facilitates and allows imaginative expression. || |
In the colonial period, the cité, or the people’s district, was a living space attracting various ethnic groups. Each group had a more or less rich music, used for religion, ritual, or just pleasure. When this music reached the city, the xylophone, tam-tam, likembe, flute and other instruments were replaced or supplemented by modern instruments like drums, guitars, saxophones, and trumpets. From the beginning, the sound was barely tolerated by the colonial authorities. Antoine Kolosoy alias Papa Wendo, one of the pioneers of Congolese music, known for his song Marie-Louise , had to serve time in prison indicted by the Catholic church which accused him of practising satanism.
For 40 years, the sound has been a catalyst for a sense of identity and national pride. Through the sound, between ville and cité , “the evolving Congolese society” will develop. Often the words mirror the preoccupations of the masses in the cité. The Indépendance Cha Cha of Joseph Kabasele, alias the Grand Kallé, is a good example. The words of this song eloquently express the people’s aspirations. The Grand Kallé also contributed to Patrice Emery Lumumba’s electoral campaign by lending him his car. For Werrason, one of the popular stars of Congolese music, it is music which keeps the Congolese nation alive.
Kinshasa “has a particular culture which speaks for it, for its inhabitants, its artists, and particularly its musicians. It is full of symbols, and, like every city, of history”
(Kapagama & Waterhouse, 2009, p. 1). The various histories of Kinshasa are mixed into the various histories of the Congo. The physical administration of the city of Kinshasa is relegated to the sidelines. Yet this megalopolis also incarnates the heart and soul of the Congolese nation. It is difficult not to feel at home there. In spite of the difficult living conditions that Kinshasa imposes, few people want to return to their villages. Ah, Kinshasa kiesse Yaya , say the Kinois. As René de Maximy says, “You have the feeling Kinshasa could be a city with a flourishing economy, where the living is good.”
Kinshasa is a space for shared action. The creation of common representations is a product of the workers’ districts. Cultural differences are negotiated here and an identity is forged. Far from being static, this Kinois identity is rich and dynamic. It ventures way beyond the yoke inflicted by colonization or the political colours in force. The capital is notable for the liveliness of its civil society. Unfortunately, the abundance of evangelical churches partitions the public space and short-circuits the system of action by diminishing its scope. We wait to see how the diverse members of civil society can overcome these false partitions and create an equal public space that can tap into the distinct nature of Kinshasa that seems to animate the Kinois. In spite of all this, this sense of territoriality contributes to the development of citizenship which is the foundation of a democratic state. As everywhere, the viability of Kinshasa will depend on its social capital, and the weight of common interests.
| ||Kinshasa is a space for shared action. The creation of common representations is a product of the workers’ districts. Cultural differences are negotiated here and an identity is forged. || |
Kapagama and Waterhouse (2009) suggest that Kinshasa is also a place characterized by a hidden order in an apparent disorder. Various schema “organize local life despite the general absence of public services and even, sometimes, of the state altogether.” Isn’t it possible to see some opportunities in what J-P Thompson in the editorial to this series on African cities calls the “Gordian knot of challenges”?
Growth and Development
Even though it is a co-creator of the ills that afflict Africa, urbanization can be a factor contributing to an African renaissance, including economic and ecological viability. As Anna Tibaijuka emphasizes “investment in infrastructures and housing in African cities offers a major opportunity for the private sector”.
Plenty of experts agree that the ecological site of Kinshasa is “favourable and propitious for the development of a great city.” With 200 km2 suitable for urban development and under the pressure of inexorable demographic growth, Kinshasa is transforming itself into a megalopolis. If this trend is maintained, Kinshasa will soon have 12 million inhabitants, thus raising itself into the group of the 30 largest conglomerations on the planet. However, the question must be asked: how to manage this growth and facilitate the provision of basic services to the population?
As growth continues to bring its load of challenges, Kinshasa’s viability depends on a vision and a plan that will integrate the inhabitants of the cité in a scheme of modernization. For example, should “high-rise development” be promoted? Why not! At least high-rises have the advantage of minimizing the distances separating the inhabitant from essential services such as schools and hospitals, and consequently also minimizing ecological footprints by promoting a way of life less dependent on the car. Thus, it is the responsibility of the new authorities to forge a vision which will attract talent and ingenuity to Kinshasa so that it can realize its role as a driving force for the “corridor of regional development”—and above all, make Kinshasa a city where one can live well.
Beaudoin, Thierry. La ville, nouveau territoire productif, Multitudes, 6 septembre 2001
De Maximy, René. Kinshasa, ville en suspens, Dynamique de la croissance et problèmes d’urbanisme. Approche socio-politique, Éditions de l’ORSTOM, Paris, 1984
De Saint Moulin, Léon. Les anciens villages des environs de Kinshasa, Études d’Histoires africaines, II, Ed. Nauwelaerts, Louvain, 1971
Kapagama, Pascal & Waterhouse, Rachel. Portrait of Kinshasa : A City On (the) Edge, Crisis States Working Papers Series No. 2, DESTIN, London School of Economics, 2009
Lusamba Kibayu, Michel. Portrait des quartiers populaires à Kinshasa (RDC) : un territoire, une identité, 2009
_______. La typologie des quartiers dans l’histoire de développement de Léopoldville-Kinshasa en RDC, CITDD, 2008
Lumenganeso K., Antoine. Kinshasa : Genèse et sites historiques, AGB, Kinshasa, 1995
Ngandu-Nkashama, Pius. In Olema Debhonvapi, Société zaïroise dans le miroir de la chanson populaire, Revue Canadienne des Études Africaines, 1984
Pain, Marc. Kinshasa, écologie et organisation urbaine, Imprimerie du Zaire, Kinshasa, 1979
Pain, Marc. Kinshasa, la ville et la cité, Éditions de l’ORSTOM, Études urbaines, Coll. Mémoires no 105, Paris, 1984
Thompson, J-P. Problems in Africa’s Large Cities, AfricaFiles, At Issue Ezine, Vol. 13, November 2010
Tubaijika, Anna. In Irin, Monde : USAID appelé à se pencher sur le problème de l’urbanisation, 20 mai 2010
by Munyaradzi Makoni
|The Struggle for Basic Services in Cape Town |
Early in 2010, the
city of Cape Town had to grapple with the horror of open toilets that had been
constructed in the informal settlement of Khayelitsha, in Makhaza section on
the outskirts of the city. People there had to suffer the indignity of covering
up with blankets when they went to relieve themselves. At the centre of the
controversy were 65 toilets without walls. The incident highlights the struggle
for better social services in poorer communities in a city famed for its
That such an
incident occurred is an indictment of the country's morals. South Africa has
made some strides in changing the lives of its people since the coming of
democracy in 1994, but looking at the successes so far, especially through the
eyes of the black majority, there is much to be done.
| ||Looking at the successes so far, especially through the
eyes of the black majority, there is much to be done. "We don't
accept that the city has no funds."|| |
accept that the city has no funds to build proper toilets for our people, as we
know that Cape Town has got the best suburbs in the country, comparable to the
best in the world," raged Clarence Mayekiso, Secretary-General of the Pan
For its part, the
African National Congress Youth League lodged an official complaint with the South
Africa Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) and also complained to the opposition
Democratic Alliance (DA) party that governs Cape Town.
"As the so-called custodians of morals and human rights, the DA has to
explain how, under its political leadership, the community of Makhaza who
include women and children have to relieve themselves in open toilets without
In a letter to
Sicelo Shiceka, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs,
Helen Zille, the premier of Western Cape Province said the so-called "open-air
toilets" saga was an issue that had been hijacked for specific agendas to
the detriment of residents in this community.
Zille said that
ensuring that all citizens have access to adequate sanitation is an objective
that should motivate public representatives in all spheres of government. The
high court eventually ordered the City of Cape Town to build the toilets
again—this time covered.
both sides of the fight, the whole issue highlighted the fact that the poor
need basic services. The problem lies in the informal settlements that teem
with shacks and impoverished habitants drawn from rural areas into Cape Town.
The core of the issue is service delivery. How can the city cope with a growing
population when it claims that such basic provisions are too costly for the
In recent times,
Cape Town has grown in leaps and bounds to become a major commercial and
industrial hub. Today, oil refining, food, chemical, fertilizer processing, the
manufacture of automobiles, leather and plastic goods, and clothing are the
| ||Cape Town has grown in leaps and bounds to become a major commercial and
industrial hub ... This growth is the
magnet that continues to attract people.|| |
This growth is the
magnet that continues to attract people of all colours, both skilled and
unskilled, to Cape Town. Poor workers who labour in some of the factories
scattered across the city live in equally scattered communities such as
Makhaza, Joe Slovo, Imizano Yethu and Du-noon. The majority of informal
settlement dwellers are black or coloured (people of mixed parentage).
population growth is a constant concern. As the State of African Cities 2010: Governance,
Inequalities and Urban Land Markets (a report by the United Nations
Centre for Human Settlement) indicates, the population of African cities is set
to triple over the next 40 years. In the case of Cape Town, the City's
Five-Year Housing Plan says Cape Town has already doubled in size over the past
20 years and had a population of almost 3.5 million in 2007. This is expected
to grow to over 4 million in the next few years—and it takes into account a
slowing population growth because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and a probable drop
in migration from the Eastern Cape.
Retired Cape Town
Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu voiced his concern clearly after the first
ever soccer World Cup was held in Africa in 2010. "This has been a
wonderful World Cup, but it doesn't negate the fact that the majority of South
Africans don't have houses, schools, clinics, running water and many more
things," Tutu was quoted as saying by the South African daily newspaper, The Times. "If we were able to
deliver such a project in just six years, imagine what we could have achieved
in 20 years," the Nobel Peace Prize laureate added.
Anzabeth Tonkin, a
research programme leader at the Development Action
Group and author of the book, Sustainable
medium-density housing: A resource book, borrowed
views from the employment equity report in the Western Cape and described the
city as "backward" compared with Johannesburg. One respondent in the
report described Cape Town as a sad place with a sad psyche, "such a
beautiful place but there is no soul."
| ||One respondent ... described Cape Town as a sad place with a sad psyche, "such a
beautiful place but there is no soul."|| |
Tonkin went on to
analyse such views of the city. "There is ample reason to become sad and
unsettled, especially if the two elements that doubtless have the most
potential to integrate a highly divided society, namely housing and land, are
not utilised in creative ways to integrate, equalise and assimilate," Tonkin
wrote in The Cape Times.
However, some of
the problems are beyond the city's control. For instance it is widely
recognised that there is a shortage of available well-located land for housing
in Cape Town. The city's estimates are that roughly 10,000 hectares of vacant "greenfield"
land will be required (based on one family per plot) to meet the current
Tonkin, "This sad state of affairs has serious implications for democracy,
equality, citizenship and human relations. Considering the enclaves of
affluence prevalent in our 'paradise' at the foot of Africa, it is fair to ask
whether we even care."
between1993 and 2005, informal dwellings grew from approximately 28,300 to
98,031. This now affects over 400,000 poor people in Cape Town. Clearly, the
housing problem has grown more acute over time, and such conditions could lead
to civil unrest.
Poverty and crime
Barely three months
had passed after President Jacob Zuma's election in
2009 when strikes by poor South Africans exploded. It was a time when a
series of protests against poor delivery of essential services such as housing,
water and sanitation facilities were everywhere in the news.
Cape Town was not
spared. The Malawi informal settlement near Bishop Lavis in the city had nearly
200 residents throwing stones at passing vehicles, demonstrating against a lack
of electricity and housing. One of the biggest informal settlements near Cape
Town in Khayelitsha was also engulfed in service delivery demonstrations as
residents called for better houses. The Bush Radio, a community radio station,
reported that on 21 July angry residents from 15 informal settlements marched
to the office of city mayor, Dan Plato, demanding better living conditions.
Nthamaga Kgafela, a
researcher with the South African Institute of Race Relations, wrote in the Municipal Outreach bulletin of May 2009 that there were over 140,000
households in the City of Cape Town living in makeshift houses and of these, 77% lived in informal
settlements while the rest lived in shacks in backyards.
were without basic services such as water, sanitation facilities, and
electricity. Only 539,893 of households in Cape Town had access to water inside
their houses. Some 111,258 of the households had access to water via a
Kgafela said more
than 58,000 of these households used a community stand more than 200 metres
from their homes. The remaining 22,348 households used boreholes, spring water,
rainwater tanks, dams, rivers or streams, and other water sources.
households had access to a flush toilet and the remaining 55,000 had no
sanitation facilities at all with some 34,296 using bucket latrines. The
remaining 23,230 households use flush septic tanks, chemical toilets, VIP
toilets, and pit latrines.
facilities cannot exist without sufficient water resources. Households without
water and sanitation facilities are often vulnerable to health risks, such as
cholera, pneumonia and typhoid.
An article written
ahead of the Major Urban Poverty Challenges Identification (MUPCI) workshops
for Cape Town stated that 52,708 were without access to electricity and
dependent on paraffin and candles.
These statistics on
living conditions were in line with the City's poverty rate of 23.6% which
ultimately meant that more than 183,000 households live in poverty, that is,
households with incomes below R800 per month.
poverty can ultimately be eradicated through jobs, the city has been found
wanting. As of 2007, the city had an unemployment rate of 16.8% but much higher
among the black population that had a 20.4% unemployment rate, compared to
14.4% among the coloured population and 6% among the Indians.
City of Cape Town has continually performed better than most other
municipalities, poverty and inequality remain prevalent," Kgafela noted.
Mirrored against achievements since the coming of democracy, it shows the city
has been doing something, but that is no consolation in the eyes of a labour
union leader. "All these good sounding statistics do not tell the full
story," said Zwelinzima Vavi, the secretary general of South Africa's
largest labour movement, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) at
the social forum meeting.
commercialisation and commodification of basic services means that even though
water taps may be in each yard where they have been provided, a growing number
of these are dry as the poor are being made to pay in advance for an increasing
number of these services, including water," he added.
Vavi had an
opportunity to go door-to-door in many informal settlements around Cape Town in
2009. "Every time I did so I came out completely depressed, realising the
challenges we still face. Most of these informal settlements do not have the
most basic infrastructure—no water, no sanitation, no electricity, no clinics,
no schools, and no streets. It is just sand and a terrible stench of poverty
| ||"Every time ... I came out completely depressed, realising the
challenges we still face. Most of these informal settlements do not have the
most basic infrastructure."|| |
announcements that the City of Cape Town had been voted one of the best
municipalities showed that the panel who decided on this had not been where he had visited. In his generalized assessment,
governments all over the world were guilty of failing to develop the rural
areas and ensure food security. This inevitably leads to a massive rush to the
cities by people looking for work, compounding existing housing shortages. Cape
Town has to be one of the worst cases.
a state of affairs has earned Cape Town a top spot as one of the world's most
dangerous cities. Its beauty contrasts sharply with its high level of
robberies, rapes, kidnappings and murders. The police are on record as saying
that the homicides usually occur in the poorer districts and suburbs of the town,
rather than in upscale areas, showing the link between crime and poverty.
Together as one
Cape Town remains a
favourite destination for job seekers, immigrants from other countries and
rural to urban migration. But the challenge to deal with shanty towns remains a
tall order for responsible authorities. The speed at which they provide
critical basic services is below the rate at which people give themselves homes
on public land, unoccupied buildings or even sidewalks in the areas near the
Cape Town is the
only city in a province of South Africa that is governed by an opposition
party. While it has largely become a functional city, the accusation of the
black majority being sidelined and women being less represented cannot be
No doubt the social
cohesion, minimising disparities and
avoiding marginalisation, were dampened by the whole toilet saga. But when
Zille presented her state of the province address in February 2011 for the
Western Cape, she showed her determination to address the challenges for
"Our role is
to extend to every person the opportunity to live a life he or she values. But
citizens also have a part to play. It is to take responsibility for making the
most of the opportunities on offer. Building a shared future requires each of
us to understand our role and what it means to achieve the better life for all,"
Kgafela, Nthamaga. "The Poor in Cape
Town," Newsletter, 21 (15 May
2009), The Municipal Outreach Project, http://www.eumunicipaloutreach.org.za/newsletters/newsletter-21-2013-the-poor-in-cape-town-15-may-2009/.
SAPA, "Poverty the
Root Cause of Crime," News 24, 6 October 2008, http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Poverty-the-root-cause-of-crime-20081006.
UN Habitat, The State of African Cities 2010:
Governance, Inequalities and Urban Land Markets, 2010, http://www.unhabitat.org/content.asp?cid=9141&catid=7&typeid=46&subMenuId=0.
UN Habitat, "Population of African
Cities to Triple," http://www.unhabitat.org/documents/SOAC10/SOAC-PR1-en.pdf.
by Teke Ngomba
|Challenges of Urban Housing Provision|
in Lagos and Johannesburg
November 2010, UN-Habitat (the United Nations Human Settlements Programme)
published a pertinent report on the state of African cities. The report
confirmed that Africa is the fastest urbanizing continent in the world and that
by 2030 "Africa’s collective population will become 50 percent urban"
from multi-storeyed buildings, traffic jams and street beggars, one of the
central "faces" of Africa’s rapid urbanization in most if not all of
its large cities is "non-standard, poor-quality housing units"
(Kasarda and Crenshaw, 1991:479) which the UN calls "urban slums".
According to UN-Habitat (2010:4), Africa currently has a slum population of
199.5 million people and this represents "61.7 per cent of its urban
population" (UN-Habitat, 2010:4).
the scale of urbanization increases, the task of providing appropriate and
affordable housing to the urban poor has
persisted as one of the most intractable problems facing developing
countries. In the wake of an unprecedented pace of urbanization in sub-Saharan
Africa and a corresponding increase in urban poverty, how have African
governments been handling this problem? What are the challenges they face and
what are the chances of these governments living up to the ideal of having
"cities without slums"?
| ||Africa currently has a slum population of
199.5 million people and this represents "61.7 per cent of its urban
population" ... What are the chances of these governments living up to the ideal of having
"cities without slums"? || |
article focuses on the situation in
Lagos, Nigeria, and Johannesburg, South Africa. The countries of both these
cities are members of the Cities Alliance, the "brain" behind the
global City without Slums Action Plan. (The Alliance is a global
coalition of cities committed to poverty reduction. The Cities without Slums Action Plan was
launched by Nelson Mandela at the inaugural meeting of the Alliance in Berlin
in December 1999.) Through an overview of some scholarly discussions of these issues, this
article highlights some of the main measures taken by both governments and city
officials within the last two decades to clear Lagos and Johannesburg of slums
and provide affordable and appropriate housing to the urban poor.
the Urban Poor in Lagos
former federal capital of Nigeria, is the country’s economic hub and biggest
city. With a current population of about 10.5 million people, UN estimates
indicate that by 2015 the population of Lagos will be close to 12.5 million
Gandy (2006:372) there are as many as 200 different slums in Lagos,
"ranging in size from clusters of shacks underneath highways to entire
districts such as Ajegunle and Mushin". As Morka (2007:7) points out, over
two-thirds of the population of Lagos lives in the "informal settlements
or slums scattered around the city". Most of these slums are densely
populated with some estimates indicating that "more than 75 per cent of
urban slum dwellers live in one room households with a density of 4.6 persons
per room" (Adelekan, 2009:6).
the above situation, combined with other challenges such as city
transportation, electricity and potable water provision, Morka (2007:4) argues
that "to say that Lagos is a city in crisis is to understate the severity
and enormity of the challenges that confront its residents and managers".
The massive problems facing the city notwithstanding, the Lagos Executive
Development Board was established with a mandate to clear the city of slums.
Successive federal and state governments have taken several measures to
"establish the necessary institutional frameworks to radically
transform" Lagos into a functional megacity (Ilesanmi, 2009:11). At both
the federal and state levels, some of the main measures taken thus far have
included the creation of specialized agencies both at national and state levels
to handle issues concerning housing for the urban poor and of specific housing
policies designed to increase the provision of appropriate and affordable
housing in Lagos.
government measures have included plans to construct about 2,000 housing units
in each state annually within the framework of the Fourth National Development
Plan (1984-1985) as well as the construction of about 143,000 "low-cost
housing units across the country" (Ademiluyi, 2010:157). Such measures
were continued between 1990 and 1992, during which time the federal government
intensified its sites and services scheme to solve the issue of inadequate
urban housing and also commenced the construction of hundreds of housing units
in Lagos and Abuja (Ademiluyi, 2010:157).
among the state-level housing measures taken has been the establishment of the
UN-backed Master Plan for Metropolitan Lagos (1980-2000). Among other things,
this called for the provision of about one million housing units for low income
households in Lagos and the World Bank-supported Lagos Slum Upgrading
Programme, which was instituted in 1999 (see Abosede, 2006:6). As part of the
strategy to improve housing conditions in Lagos and to stop the proliferation
of slums in particular, both the federal and state governments have also
engaged in forceful evictions of slum dwellers. According to Morka (2007:8),
such evictions, like those of July 1990 and April 2005, have been inappropriate
and ineffective and have instead helped to "fuel the growth of new slums
or the expansion of existing ones with more complex dimensions".
| ||Both the federal and state governments have also
engaged in forceful evictions of slum dwellers ... such evictions, like those of July 1990 and April 2005, have been inappropriate
and ineffective. || |
the strategies mentioned above, the persistence of the housing problem in Lagos
has continued to put the state government under pressure to look for lasting
solutions. Recent state-level initiatives in this regard have included the
establishment of the Lagos Metropolitan Development and Governance Project, the
Lagos Island Revitalization project which aims to "upgrade derelict
residential areas" in Lagos (Abosede, 2006:7) and the formulation of the
Medium Term Sector Strategy of the Housing Sector for Lagos for the period
2011-2013 which has an ambitious vision to achieve "a Lagos State where
every citizen has access to quality housing that meets their needs".
all these interventions within these past two decades, the concrete
achievements in terms of "providing adequate housing" for the urban
poor in Lagos and in Nigeria as a whole remain "essentially minimal"
(Ademiluyi, 2010:158). Onibokun’s (1971:283) conclusion three decades ago is
still valid today: both the state and federal governments have been
"unable to meet the challenges posed by Lagos". Worse, there seems to
be the absence of a "practicable government policy that could solve the housing
problems of Lagos" (Olayiwola et al, 2005:187) and even the formal
public-private partnerships to address the issue have so far produced a
"relatively low quantity of affordable housing for the low income people
of Nigeria" (Ibem, 2010:14).
such a balance sheet, it goes without saying that there are significant
measures that need to be put in place if the federal and state governments hope
to provide appropriate and affordable shelter to Lagos’ urban poor and live up
to their subscribed ideal of a city without slums. Some of these issues are
highlighted in the latter part of this article.
the Urban Poor in Johannesburg
to UN-Habitat, Johannesburg, South Africa’s economic hub, currently has a
population of about 3.670 million and by 2015 the city’s population is expected
to be about 3.867 million (UN-Habitat, 2010:53). With visible "scars"
from the apartheid era, Johannesburg, as Bollens (1998:739) noted, is a city of
"enormous economic and social contrasts" where sky scrapers co-exist
with "townships and shanty towns of intentionally degraded living
recent years, the number of people living in what are termed "informal
settlements and backyard shacks" across South Africa has been increasing
(see Landman and Napier, 2010:303) and it is estimated that "between
150,000 to 220,000 households in Johannesburg live in informal dwellings"
(Planact, 2007:2). According to the Center on Housing Rights and Evictions
(2005:6) some of these "informal dwellings" in which the urban poor
in Johannesburg live often include urban shack settlements (with close to 200
of them across the city). There are also 235 so-called "bad
buildings" in the inner city and "shelters" in "backyards,
on pavements, or under highway bridges".
measures to address this situation and provide affordable and appropriate
housing to the urban poor in Johannesburg in particular and across South Africa
are "informed by the history of the country" (Goodlad, 1996:1644).
Following the historic election in 1994, successive post-apartheid governments
have focused on conceiving and implementing policies to "combat the
spatial manifestations of apartheid" (Bollens, 1998:741), especially with
regards to the provision of housing for the urban poor.
to Parnell and Robinson (2006:346), though hard to "pin down", the
ANC has had an important influence on local governments to the extent that in
the case of Johannesburg, policies relating to the management and upgrading of
the city have been "synergistic with national ANC policies".
Similarly, Beall et al (2000:113) had earlier argued that, in dealing with
Johannesburg’s housing crisis, city officials have "largely deferred to
the national and provincial government" (see also Development Action Group
| ||South Africa's housing strategy has centered on a combination of private,
public and community initiatives ... where
"market and community involvement" in housing provision is
"maximized". || |
looking at national policies on the provision of appropriate and affordable
housing for the urban poor, some evidence regarding strategies within
Johannesburg to house its urban poor become apparent. Briefly, within the last
decade in particular, South Africa’s housing strategy has centered on a combination of private,
public and community initiatives wherein the state, rather than take a center
stage in direct housing provision, has focused on creating an environment where
"market and community involvement" in housing provision is
"maximized" (Goodlad, 1996:1636; see also Landman and Napier,
2010:299). This is currently evident in the new national housing policy dubbed
"Breaking New Ground" (BNG). Framed as South Africa’s "new
housing vision", a central aim of the BNG housing policy is to accelerate
the delivery of quality housing to the poor as part of the government’s plan to
promote the development of "sustainable human settlements" in South
policies and strategies in contemporary South Africa have been hailed for being
"progressive" (du Plessis, 2005:126) and, though not perfect, are
said to be registering some success (see Cross, 2008:3). Pro-poor housing
policies and strategies in Johannesburg have been listed as one of the "best
practices" worth copying in South Africa (see see Development Action
Group, 2003). Recently, in September 2010, the UN-Habitat awarded a Scroll of
Honour for human settlements development to the Johannesburg Social Housing
Company (JOSHCO), a company established by the City of Johannesburg to provide
quality low-cost housing services and products to the citizens of Johannesburg.
UN-Habitat, the Scroll of Honour was awarded to JOSHCO in recognition of the
company’s provision of "tens of thousands of affordable housing units,
improved living conditions and basic services to poor families" (see UN-Habitat for the
complete statement). Such recognitions notwithstanding, overall, the challenges
to significantly and sustainably resolve the "huge housing shortage"
in Johannesburg and in South Africa as a whole remain very daunting (Lemanski,
the much-criticized forceful eviction of the urban poor from slums has also
been among the policy options used to address the housing crisis in
Johannesburg. This was clearly evident for instance in the 2004-2007
Johannesburg Inner City Regeneration Strategy Business Plan which recommended
the closing down of "bad buildings"— a "euphemism for evicting
the building’s occupants and sealing it off" (Centre on Housing Rights and
Evictions, 2005:42). Such evictions have often led to clashes between residents
and the police. According to Harrison (2006:330), for example, in August 2005
police used stun grenades to:
… quell an angry mob in the suburb of
Marlboro in north-eastern Johannesburg which was protesting against the
eviction of residents who had long occupied empty factories in response to the
serious housing backlog in the neighboring township of Alexandra. (For more
reports on cases of forceful evictions in Johannesburg, see, for instance,
Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, 2005:60-64).
Comparing Lagos and Johannesburg
a general perspective, contemporary strategies adopted to provide appropriate
and affordable housing for the urban poor in Lagos and Johannesburg are fairly
similar. The strategy for the largest cities in both countries has revolved
around the establishment of national and city-based housing policies and
targets; the creation of specialized agencies to handle urban housing tasks;
the acquisition of multilateral assistance especially from the World Bank and
UN to implement national or city-based housing-related projects; the tilting
towards a more neo-liberal, market-based approach as far as
the provision of urban services and facilities are concerned; and the resort to
forced evictions as one "weapon" in the "arsenal" for
dealing with the proliferation of slums.
| ||The strategy for the largest cities in both countries ... (includes) the tilting
towards a more neo-liberal, market-based approach as far as
the provision of urban services and facilities are concerned; and the resort to
forced evictions as one "weapon" in the "arsenal" for
dealing with the proliferation of slums. || |
Such similarities in strategy and policy continue to
support Stren’s (1972:492) previous conclusion that the responses to the
problem of inadequate urban housing across African countries "have shared
many common features, in spite of important socio-cultural and ideological-political
differences" among these countries.
there are also important differences between the approaches taken. They include
the scale of the institutionalization of community-based approaches to urban
housing provision for the urban poor (more formalized in South Africa than in
Nigeria) and differences in the "level of maturity and entrenchment"
into the economy of the housing finance sector/system (more entrenched in South
Africa than in Nigeria). Another major difference between housing strategies in
South Africa and Nigeria has been the provision in South Africa of a public
housing subsidy for the lower-middle and low income populations.
seen in the case of Lagos and Johannesburg, South Africa appears to have a
relatively more "evolved approach" to pro-poor housing provision than
Nigeria. In addition to the differences mentioned above, two recent
developments in South Africa separate it further from Nigeria. In September
2005, according to Cross (2006:4), "all the
major South African role players in housing" signed a Social Contract for
Rapid Housing Delivery which aims to replace "informal housing stocks with
new standardized subsidy housing" and set stakeholders on the course of
"working to eliminate all shack housing in the country" by 2014.
Secondly, as Landman and Napier
(2010:301) have pointed out, commercial banks in South Africa have signed a
Financial Sector Services Charter with the government, "promising to
provide mortgages for housing to lower income households". Taken together,
such pro-poor strategies testify to South Africa’s relatively more
"evolved" housing strategy. As Cross (2006:3) noted, "no other
country in Africa promises its poor the levels of social provision" that
the successive post-apartheid governments in South Africa have committed
in Africa has a long history (see Abate, 1978:23) but currently its pace is
making it one of the "most dramatic social phenomena" taking place in
Africa since the colonial era (Mabogunje, 1990:121). For several years, as
Stren (1992:533) has argued, research on African cities has centered on two
main themes: "their poverty and their rapid rates of growth". These
were also the central Messages in the UN-Habitat 2010 report on African cities
which highlighted, among other things, the central problem of urban housing
provision for the urban poor across the continent. As concerns the continent as
a whole, while there are a few signs of progress, the enormity of the challenge
to provide a "decent house" for every urban dweller in Africa is
simply overwhelming (see UN-Habitat, 2010:2).
in Africa ... is
making it one of the "most dramatic social phenomena" ... while there are a few signs of progress, the enormity of the challenge
to provide a "decent house" for every urban dweller in Africa is
simply overwhelming. || |
the last two decades, governments have made a plethora of pledges to tackle
this challenge. In June 1996, for instance, heads of state and government from
all over the world met in Istanbul, Turkey, for the UN Conference on Human
Settlements (Habitat II) and reaffirmed, among other things, their
"commitment to the full and progressive realization of the right to
adequate housing as provided for in international instruments". Fourteen
years after that conference, hundreds of millions of people are still stuck in
the rapid increase in urban populations in Africa, the corresponding increasing
demand for urban housing, the persistently dire financial situation of the
urban poor, persistently significant levels of bad governance in Africa and the
insufficient financial and material resources available to African states to
tackle this issue, it is not possible or pragmatic, at least for now, to
envisage a situation where every urban dweller in sub-Saharan Africa will live
in a "decent house" in the near future.
These practical constraints notwithstanding, there
is need for all stakeholders in the housing sector in Africa to continuously
strive to provide adequate and affordable housing to the urban poor given that
the acquisition of such a house is a central part of every individual’s human
rights, recognized and codified in both national and international instruments
such as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (see Leckie, 1989:525).
the right to adequate housing to become a sustainable reality for the urban
poor across Africa, a lot needs to be put in place. In a 1992 essay, Nwaka
(1992:95) argued that, as concerns housing policies, Nigeria has probably had
"enough policy advice already". This holds true for all countries in
the region. The fact that years of policy advice and pledges have not produced
dramatic reductions in slums suggests that something very fundamental is
lacking in Africa: visionary, democratic and dedicated leadership.
Substantially realizing the right to adequate housing demands, among other
things, that African leaders develop and manifest the political will to live up
to their commitments. It also demands that these leaders should be continuously
pressurized through legal and peaceful strategies to fully implement their
commitments to the poor.
the world slips into the second decade of the third millennium, for millions of
slum dwellers across the world, the message to their governments is simple:
Enough is enough! Help us obtain adequate housing — it’s our right!
Teke Ngomba is
a PhD student at the Institute of Information and Media
Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark.
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by Timothy Gachanga
|Hurdles to Social Integration in Nairobi’s Slums|
Many people think that a peaceful and
socially integrated society is easy to achieve. All that is necessary, they
believe, is to involve the services of experienced peacemakers and human rights
activists using their skills and knowledge in this field. This is what happened
after the December 2007 post-election crisis in Kenya, when Dr. Kofi Annan intervened to end the political
stalemate that threatened to plunge the country into civil war. From this
perspective, social disintegration is simply a result of the inadequate
application of human rights and peace-building skills. But the situation is not
that simple. In many ways, social disintegration is a symptom of underlying
social and cultural problems. This is well exemplified in Nairobi's slums.
Examination of the underlying political, social, and economic instances of
injustice in slums leads one to understand the problem of realizing one's
values. Often, the values held by people are adversely affected by obstacles to
facilities and human rights
Nairobi's slums are a tragic story of despair and hopelessness
and represent a microcosm of an unjust society. A review of existing literature on slums in Nairobi reveals this state of deprivation.
Elsewhere (Gachanga 2007) I have noted that 40% of
the slum residents are destitute, 45% are poor, 13% middle class and 2%
affluent. The unemployed constitute 35%, while 30% are engaged in hawking and
petty trade as a means of survival. Only 15% of the population is involved in
some mainstream commerce and business, while 15% have waged employment, but
mostly as casual workers in various parts of the city. In terms of living
conditions, 25% of the population lives in makeshift slum shelters, while 20%
lives in poor semi-permanent shelters. The rest of the population, that is 55%,
lives in permanent shelter that is nevertheless poorly constructed and
offers no form of secure tenure. Evictions, often violent, occur at the
whim of landowners. Defaults in rent payments are rarely negotiated and result
in evictions. In some cases, arson is used by unscrupulous landlords to evict
non-complying households or the residents of entire slums. Ventilation in all
the shelters is very poor. Coupled with overcrowded living space and inadequate
sanitation facilities, these result in greater exposure to disease and
| ||Evictions, often violent, occur at the
whim of landowners. Defaults in rent payments are rarely negotiated and result
in evictions. In some cases, arson is used by unscrupulous landlords to evict
non-complying households.|| |
The road networks are generally very poor in the slums. Some roads
where the few affluent live are tarmacked and have street lights. The rest are
dusty footpaths which become muddy and impassable during the rains. Pedestrian
bridges exist which allow the rest of the population to flow freely around and
over the slums. The majority of slum residents cannot afford any of the
motorized transport options in the city. To cope, they must either limit their
travel outside their settlement or live close enough to employment prospects to
be able to walk to their jobs. Without mobility options, many people with
little money live in crowded, unsafe, and unsanitary conditions near the centre
of town (Salon and Gulyani 2009, 242). Although over half of the population has
access to electricity for lighting, 1 in 5 households are connected to poor
quality and unsafe power supply via illegal lines. This has resulted in many
electrical accidents and fires. In
February this year for instance, two people were burnt to death at Mukuru-Lunga
Lunga slums in Industrial Area after six shanties caught fire after an illegal
connection caused an electric fault (Daily
Nation, 21 April 2010). In October, several families were left homeless and
property worth thousands of shillings destroyed after a fire razed slum
dwellings in Southlands, Lang'ata. More than thirty houses, shops, pubs and
video halls were also burnt down (Daily
Nation, 25 October 2010). Those not connected to electricity use
paraffin as fuel for light and cooking and this also results in fires.
Facilities for water, health and education are also poor.
Access to water ranges from adequate for the affluent to severely inadequate
for the majority of the population. Some settlements have been provided with
communal water taps, but these are controlled by water vendors who sell the
commodity at an exorbitant price compared to the metered piped water. Health services and education are no better.
Hospitals are beyond the slum dwellers' reach. They often depend on distant
clinics or dispensaries or the occasional passage of voluntary or semi-official
medical teams for medical care (Moschetti 1997). There are very few schools in
slums, and they mostly run by voluntary organizations or denominational bodies.
These schools are informal and, because of the high school fees, are
unaffordable for many children.
The description above reveals the state of deprivation,
exclusion and frustration facing poor slum residents. Typically, the poor not
only have few economic resources, but also very little opportunity for
meaningful participation in, and access to, social or political life. This
makes them feel the pain, burden and disadvantage of their lower socio-economic
status. Accessibility to amenities such as schools, health services, water and
electricity is an important element for a socially integrated society. These
are the basic services that create conditions for people to feel included and
not suffer the painful consequence of being unable to afford them. Populations
whose demands exceed the amenities available will tend to fight for
the survival of their kin group and ignore any claims of "others"
to access the same. Accessibility to basic services therefore underlines the
cohesion of a society and reinforces the notion that every citizen should feel
| ||Accessibility to amenities such as schools, health services, water and
electricity is an important element for a socially integrated society ... Populations
whose demands exceed the amenities available will tend to fight for
the survival of their kin group and ignore any claims of "others"
to access the same.|| |
especially for women
Chronic violence has been a great impediment to social
integration in Nairobi.
Amnesty International decried the high level of insecurity in Nairobi's slums
in a recent report entitled Insecurity and Indignity: Women's Experiences in
the Slums of Nairobi. Through
brutal first-hand testimonies, the report revealed the trauma, pain, and
desperation women experience in order to access basic services such as communal
toilets and bathroom facilities. One resident of Kibera, Wanjiku, lost a tooth
in a terrible ordeal. "It was around 8 pm and I needed to use to the
toilet. As I walked towards one, I saw a group of men, one of whom I recognized
so I knew they would not do anything to me," Wanjiku said. "I called
out the name of the man I knew and was surprised when he was the one who held
me while the others tried to undress me. They beat me up because I was
screaming and one of them knocked [out] my tooth. My screaming saved me because
people came to my rescue as one of the men was removing his trousers."
This, according to the report, has made women become prisoners in their own
houses at night and sometimes well before it is dark. Due to the long distances
between their houses and the toilets, some women resort to using "flying
toilets" (plastic bags thrown away after use instead of a toilet) hence
increasing the risk of illness.
sometimes women are not even safe in their own homes. "It was two years
ago when three young men stormed into my house, ransacked it and raped me in
turns," said Mama Joseph, a kiosk owner in Kibera. "I pleaded that I was old enough to be
their mother but they could hear none of my pleas. I realized they were indeed
determined in their mission. I disclosed to them that I was using
anti-retroviral drugs to sustain myself but they could not listen." After
the rape, which lasted an hour, the men stole her household items and left
(Amnesty 2010; Daily Nation, July 7,
2010). Unfortunately Mama Joseph's story is not unique.
Such incidents are compounded by the complacency of the police
and the fact that there are no police posts and police patrols in most of the
slums. Police frequent the slums only when arresting illicit brewers in order
to extort money from them. This has made
slum residents lose confidence with law enforcement agents. "People have
become demoralized and have resorted to using their own devices to ensure their
own security," lamented Muturi, a Kibera resident. "We have community
policing but it isn't effective. The information volunteered to the police on
criminal activities is leaked to criminals who later come to threaten residents
for betraying them to the police. " This has made criminal gangs take
advantage of the situation by claiming to provide security to the residents.
The gangs demand protection fees from the poor residents and those who refuse
to pay risk being killed or having their houses burnt. In October this year,
the government gazetted 33 criminal gangs and warned the public against dealing
with them in any way (East African
Standard, October 20, 2010). Eighteen of these gangs operate in Nairobi slums
and were responsible for the eviction of people from their houses at the height
of the post-election violence. Today, their members continue to control many
houses, dictating who occupies them. Members of the public living in such
houses are forced to pay rent to the group. The disappointment, the
helplessness in the hands of criminal gangs, makes slum residents feel
excluded. Maintaining the security of all individuals and their living
environment is therefore paramount in creating a feeling of inclusion and an
atmosphere of participation in society.
| ||Slum residents lose confidence with law enforcement agents ... "The information volunteered to the police on
criminal activities is leaked to criminals who later come to threaten residents
for betraying them."|| |
Lack of good governance/leadership
leadership and lack of good governance are other major obstacles to social
integration in Nairobi's slums. In terms of governance, the slums fall under
the Nairobi City Council (NCC). However, the performance of the NCC in
resolving the problems in informal settlements has been unacceptable because of
corruption, lack of consultation, poor leadership and mismanagement. According
to the East African bribery index released by Transparency International in
July this year, NCC was ranked the second most corrupt public sector
organization in Kenya (Transparency International 2010). Incidents of financial
mismanagement within the executive are rampant. For instance, in October this
year, the mayor of Nairobi was brought to court for allegedly acquiring Sh283.2
million (US$3.5 million) from the Ministry of Local Government claiming it to
be the purchase price for cemetery land at Mavoko Municipality, Machakos
District. The graft conspirators are alleged to have inflated the cost of the
land, hastened the release of the money, and paid the seller about a third of
the quoted price before sharing the balance among themselves. The mayor was
forced to step down (Daily Nation,
October 26, 2010).
of consultation has also created a condition where the majority feel excluded
from decision-making processes. "We are not consulted when decisions on
development are being made. For instance, we know very little on how Community
Development Fund (CDF) is being utilized. We only see projects, some very
irrelevant, coming up and we are left wondering who approved them. The people
we elect do not come to us for consultations before they undertake a project in
our area," lamented Wanyama, a Korogocho resident. In October this year,
an attempt by the City Council to increase parking spaces offered by the
council was challenged in court for failure to consult and to deliver services.
"We are not against increasing parking fees but the manner in which it was
done and the lack of consultations," said Mr Mutoro, the Chief Executive
of Kenya Alliance of Resident Associations (Kara). Kara cited lack of security
and poor upkeep of parking lots as some of the concerns and that the increased
parking fees should be matched by tangible service delivery (Business Daily,
October 30, 2010). In June this year, a high court ruled that the city council
should not collect rates/taxes from more than 3000 traders in Eastleigh division
in Nairobi because it had failed to provide requisite services
commensurate with the huge taxes and rates remitted by the business community
(Alshahid, June 18, 2010). Eastleigh is
one of the filthiest and dirtiest divisions in Nairobi. Its roads are impassable; heaps of uncollected garbage are
everywhere; a poor drainage system causes waste from stinking lavatories to
flow over paths and roads.
| ||The majority feel excluded
from decision-making processes ... This eventually
makes them feel as though they are not part a system. When people are not consulted they stop participating.|| |
the failure to consult and deliver services to the disadvantaged in slums
results in further exclusion and marginalization. Corruption denies the
rightful people access to resources, opportunities and power. This eventually
makes them feel as though they are not part a system. When people are not consulted they stop participating, choose
to remain silent and deny existing problems, rather than face and address them.
In order to create an inclusive society, therefore, the city council must be
accountable to the people, consult and reflect the needs and concerns of the
disadvantaged and those who are not included.
How to build an
Access to accurate and
timely information for slums residents is a key to social integration. A lack
of information often leads to doubts, suspicion, inflammatory statements,
accusations, and ultimately, exclusion and conflict. This is the case in the
informal settlements of Nairobi. The detachment between the civic leaders and the residents
has given rise to political and ethnic rhetoric that has tended to overshadow
positive images for a socially integrated society in the slums. We need to
understand what the slum dwellers are doing to promote a socially integrated
society. This is because in order to realize a socially integrated society, we
need to build on the positive values latent in the slums, and have those values
shared and understood by every member of society. Such values include respect
for human rights, good neighbourliness, civic responsibility, accountability,
good leadership, tolerance and respect for diversity.
The following actions
may be among those that will help to realize social integration in Nairobi's
Respect for the
rule of law. Every resident, no matter what his or her economic resources,
political status or social standing, must be treated equally under the law.
- Freedom for
people to express diverse views and develop alternative ideas. Members of
society must have the confidence to engage and interact with each other and to
build mutual trust while acknowledging their differences.
- Open dialogue
among all communities and social groups represented in the slums.
- A deliberate
attempt to learn and understand different cultures, values, and perspectives of
various social groups as a method towards creating unity while managing
diversity. This is especially important given the cultural mosaic in Nairobi's
- Efforts to
reduce the socioeconomic disparity between the rich and the poor.
building and intensive education to foster an understanding of a just society,
good governance and effective leadership.
participation in civic, social, economic and political activities by
individuals at all levels.
of relevant information such as what a community owns, generates or benefits
- Effective use
of the media and effective partnerships with policy makers to formulate an
agenda for a just society.
of such actions could be like a magnet drawing society towards a better future.
A society with no vision for the future indicates a society in decline.
Societies that maintain a unity of purpose, or a shared common goal
embraced by the community, and that encourage broad-based stakeholder
participation in the formulation of that goal, will be more socially integrated
as every member will be working towards a unified objective.
News & Analysis. "City Council of
Nairobi Stopped from Collecting Rates from Eastleigh Traders." June
18, 2010. http://english.alshahid.net/archives/7950.
Amnesty International. Insecurity and
Indignity: Women's Experiences in the Slums of
Business Daily. "Lobby group seeks court's leave to block parking fees." October
Daily Nation. "City mayor felled
by graves scandal." October
Nation. "Fire destroys Nairobi slum dwelling." October 25, 2010.
Nation. "Tales of Agony at the Hands of slum rapists."
July 7, 2010.
Daily Nation. "Vandalism Costs Power Firm
Billions." April 21, 2010.
African Standard. "State Outlaws Criminal Gangs." October
Gachanga, T. "Pathway to a Just Peaceful Kibera." Wajibu Journal (September–October 2007).
Moschetti, D. Urban Ministry in Africa: Need for
New Models . Eldoret, Kenya: AMECEA Gaba Publication,
Ndinda, B and D. Lamba. "Urban Management in Kenya." Sage Publication 3, no. 1 (April 1991).
Salon, D. and S. Gulyani. "Mobility, Poverty, and Gender: Travel 'Choices'
of Slum Residents in Nairobi." Transport
Reviews 30, no. 5 (September 2010): 641–657.
Transparency International. East Africa Bribery Index 2010. http://www.tikenya.org/documents/EABI-2010.pdf.
by J-P Thompson
|A Gordian Knot of Challenges:|
Africa’s Large Cities under Pressure
August 10, 2010 a fire swept through the Kennedy
Road shack settlement in Durban,
It left thousands of poor people homeless. The previous fire to sweep through
the Kennedy Road
shack settlement claimed four lives. The Abahlali baseMjondolo (Shack Dwellers) Movement
reported on this latest incident:
If electricity, water and adequate housing were provided
in the Kennedy Road shack settlement these recurring shack fires could
have been prevented… When the state refuses to provide the poor
with electricity and then violently disconnects us from electricity when we
connect ourselves it is sentencing us to burn… The poor in Durban have been
abandoned to fire, left to burn, because we do not count in this city.1
glimpse into the reality facing shack dwellers in Durban
is mirrored across the continent. More than 3,000 shack fires occur in South
Africa alone, killing around 100 people a year.2
Overall, UN Habitat estimates that all manner of urban environmental problems
kill an estimated one million Africans each year3
and disrupt the lives of millions more. Alongside urban environmental problems,
African cities face a multitude of challenges:
- Housing ,
which is grossly inadequate;
conditions , which divide cities into haves and have-nots, many of whom lack
clean water and electricity;
- Employment ,
which sees formal economic sectors waning and being replaced by informal
- Governance ,
which requires major improvements in central and local governments;
- Environment ,
which encompasses huge pollution and degradation problems in developing cities;
- Food security ,
which necessitates finding new ways to feed the large numbers of people moving
from the countryside to the cities.
the next five months At Issue Ezine
will examine the urban stories of Kinshasa,
This editorial, after exploring urban growth rates, will examine some of the issues
that are increasing the pressure on urban centres. It will also introduce potential
antidotes for African cities that might abate an otherwise grim future.
Urban growth rates: historical and demographic overview
colonialism maintained stringent regulations that governed native populations'
access to urban land. Africans did not have a "right to the city" and
those who worked in cities were largely viewed as temporary residents in the
service of colonial administrators. Africans were forced to live in desperate
conditions on the edge of cities. Apartheid is the most extreme example of
urban disenfranchisement through the State criminalizing urban migration and
brutally displacing a million Africans from urban centres. Almost everywhere, the
1960s brought national independence movements and the accompanying civil
turmoil. This triggered exponential urban growth. For example, after seven
years of colonial warfare in Algeria, the population of Algiers tripled between
1962 and 1964 as the "bidonvilles" or shantytowns absorbed the
displaced rural populations. In other places, like the DRC, independence
brought leaders like Mobutu who kept control centralized and who imposed
virulent economic and taxation policies on the rural population forcing them to
give up their agricultural livelihoods and migrate to urban centres to seek
jobs. As for South Africa,
Rian Malan poignantly captures the disintegration of apartheid laws in relation
to Cape Town
which saw its black population triple between 1982 and 1992:4
hated pass laws were scrapped, it was as if a distant dam had broken, allowing
a mass of desperate and hopeful humanity to come flooding over the mountains
and spread out across the Cape
They came at a rate of eighty, ninety families a day… Within two years, the
sand dunes had vanished under an enormous sea of shacks and shanties."5
examples illustrate the urban growth seen after independence which eventually
slowed to become a steady flow of rural to urban migration. In addition,
massive population displacements were driven by sporadic events like armed
conflicts, economic shocks and natural disasters. Over time, this migration
would result in most countries witnessing an urban growth that was double the
natural population growth rate. The extent of the urban growth can be witnessed
in examples of urban population changes in African countries between 1950 and
2001 (Table 1).
|Country ||Urban population, 2001 (000) || % of population in urban areas (level of urbanization) |
| 1950 || 1990 || 2001 |
|Kenya ||10,751 ||5.6 ||23.6 ||34.4 |
|Mozambique ||6,208 ||2.4 ||26.8 ||33.3 |
|DRC ||16,120 ||19.1 ||28.1 ||30.7 |
|Gabon ||1,038 ||11.4 ||45.7 ||82.3 |
|Egypt ||29,475 ||31.9 ||43.9 ||42.7 |
|Libya ||4,757 ||18.6 ||82.4 ||88.0 |
|South Africa ||25,260 ||43.1 ||49.2 ||57.7 |
|Botswana ||768 ||0.3 ||23.1 ||49.4 |
|Nigeria ||52,539 ||10.1 ||35.2 ||44.9 |
|Cote d'Ivoire ||7,197 ||13.2 ||40.4 ||44.0 |
Table 1: Urban population changes in selected African countries6 (Source: Machumu 2001: 4; Sebastian 2006: 11)
this growth, Africa
currently remains the least urbanized region in the world. But for how long? In
the early 1990s, two-thirds of Africans still lived in rural areas. In 2007,
cities across the continent accounted for 38.7% of the total population or
373.4 million urban dwellers. It is expected that by around 2030, Africa
will have entered its "urban age," when half of the total population
will be urban dwellers (759.4 million). And by 2050, it is projected that just
under two-thirds of Africans will live in urban areas (1.2 billion). In brief,
despite a slowing growth rate, within the time-span of approximately 60 years
there will have been almost a total reversal of the rural-urban balance.7
Major cities will account
for a third of the urban growth rates across Africa. Moreover, it is the "second-tier"
cities, with populations of less than 500,000 that will account for two-thirds
of all urban growth rates.8
In 1950 only two cities (Alexandria and Cairo) had populations of more than one million
inhabitants. By 2005, there were 43 cities with at least a million people and
an additional sixteen cities are expected to reach this benchmark by 2015. Lagos is a prime example of a megacity that has
experienced meteoric urban expansion. In 1950, Lagos had 300,000 inhabitants; in 2004 it had a
population of 13.4 million. This means it is now over 40 times its original
In addition, local estimates report that the city welcomes 6,000 newcomers a
In fact, Lagos goes beyond the traditional definition of a city. It
is an agglomeration that is at the heart of an urban corridor across West Africa connecting with neighbouring towns and cities
like drops of mercury. The OECD reports that "by 2020, this network of 300
cities larger than 100,000 will have a population comparable to the US east
coast, with five cities of over one million… and a total of more than 60
million inhabitants along a strip of land 600 kilometers long, running east to
west between Benin City and Accra."11
The Lagos megapolis is one of three "urban development
corridors" in Africa. The other two are the North Delta Region of Egypt (the urban network
including Cairo, Alexandria, Port Said and Suez) and the Gauteng Urban Region of South Africa (Johannesburg, Tshwane/ Pretoria and Emfule/ Vereeniging). In these cases, the
symbiotic melding of urban areas and regional peripheries is creating a
landscape that is neither rural nor urban but a hybrid version of both, "wherein
a dense web of transactions ties large urban cores to their surrounding
In the case of Lagos, "it probably will also be the biggest
single footprint of urban poverty on earth."13
Poverty and urban growth
urbanization had been determined by the onset of industrialization and subsequent
socioeconomic transformation. This is not true of Africa.
African urbanization is a process driven by poverty. First there is the poverty
that drives people from rural areas to the city. Migration from rural areas is
propelled by a number of economic, political, social and security-related reasons.
For instance, agricultural policies of post-colonial governments and
international institutions have placed excessive demands on farmers by forcing
them to sell their crops at below-market-value or imposing higher taxes.
Natural disasters, like droughts and famines, as well as man-made wars, can
also uproot entire communities who are forced leave their land. Add to this mix
of factors the notion that governments are seen to be spending more on public
services in cities on health, education and infrastructure improvements. It is
unsurprising that cities seem to offer a promise of a better life and a route
out of impoverishment for rural families. In the end, however, the urban
promise holds true only for the political and economic elites. Upgrades
occurring in cities generally do not benefit incoming migrants who are left
struggling on the periphery with few prospects for economic integration. Therefore,
the breadth and depth of poverty within the cities is fuelled by the growing
number of people living there and the lack of adequate urban planning to absorb
| ||It is
unsurprising that cities seem to offer a promise of a better life and a route
out of impoverishment for rural families. In the end, however, the urban
promise holds true only for the political and economic elites. || |
55% of the continent's GDP originates in cities, 43% of urban residents live
below the poverty line. This figure reaches 50% in some regions such as West and
With the predicted future growth of African cities in mind, these figures will
worsen given the extent of urban poverty. Urban poverty is not driven by a
linear set of issues but rather a complex, inter-related set of factors and
pressures that originate both from the micro-level (e.g., local factors like access
to safe drinking water) and the macro-level (e.g., broader spheres of influence
like government policies). This a miserable Gordian knot for many millions of
urban Africans. There are three broad strands that make up this knot.
poverty is most visible when dealing with the issue of housing. The term "slums"
conjures up images that proliferate in today's media of unsafe shanty towns
built out of wood, corrugated iron, mud bricks and plastic sheets. UN-Habitat
estimates that in 2000, on average, about 70% of all African urban dwellers
lived in slum housing. Available data revealed that in eight countries, 90% of
urban residents lived in slum housing (Ethiopia,
African Republic, Niger,
Table 2 identifies Africa's largest slums and the number of people who reside there.
|Name (City) ||Millions ||Name (City) ||Millions |
|1) Ajegunle (Lagos) ||1.5 ||8) Kibera (Nairobi) ||0.8 |
|2) Soweto (Gauteng) ||1.5 ||9) City of the Dead (Cairo) ||0.8 |
|3) Cape Flats (Cape Town) ||1.2 ||10) Inanda INK (Durban) ||0.5 |
|4) Pikine (Dakar) ||1.2 ||11) Manshiet Nasr (Cairo) ||0.5 |
|5) Imbaba (Cairo) ||1.0 ||12) Mathare (Nairobi) ||0.5 |
|6) Ezbet El-Haggana (Cairo) ||1.0 ||13) Agege (Lagos) ||0.5 |
Table 2: Africa's largest slums (2005)16
|7) Cazenga (Luanda) ||0.8 ||14) Masina (Kinshasa) ||0.5 |
concept that "housing is a verb" signifies the constantly shifting
nature of the issues slum residents have to face and balance continually. In
other words, "the urban poor have to solve a complex equation as they try
to optimize housing cost, tenure security, quality of shelter, journey to work,
and sometimes, personal safety."17
crux of the housing problem is the issue of land rights. The dawn of
independence in many countries triggered a population rush to claim their "right
to the city." However, this did not necessarily translate into a right to
the land. Many post-colonial elites kept the same zonal restrictions and
segregation policies of their colonial masters, separating the emerging African
professional classes from the poorer masses. For example, in Luanda,
the political elites and the wealthy inherited the Portuguese-built "asphalt
city," whereas the edge of the city housed the poor in settlements called "musseques."
These settlements would become massively over-crowded with thousands of
refugees during the ensuing civil war. However, these settlements are viewed as
temporary by residents who cannot prevent the government from "tidying up
the city" by carrying out forced removals of communities and destroying
thousands of homes. SOS Habitat estimates that at least 6,000 families lost
their homes between 2000 and 2007 and received minimal compensation at best.18
pattern of government abuse is replicated throughout the continent. The most
widely reported recent example is, "Operation Murambatsvina" (Drive
out the Filth) perpetrated by the Zanu-PF government in Zimbabwe
in 2005. Among other devastating results, more than 500,000 people lost their
housing across the country. Some urban centres lost as much as 60% of their
housing stock. The government denounced these settlements as illegal, even
though families had been living in these areas for decades.19
Operation Garika/Hlalani Kuhle (Live Well), a government program to re-build
housing for the displaced population, has apparently been discontinued and was
reported to have helped only Zanu-PF sympathizers and government civil
example of a government trampling over land rights is happening at the time of
writing in Chad.
More than 10,000 people are facing forced evictions from the neighbourhood of
Ambatta in the capital city N'Djamena. The Deby government is supposedly
planning on building social housing in the area, despite previous assurances to
residents that the area was protected. No compensation will be offered to
displaced residents, some of whom have lived and worked there for over 20
| ||The crux of the housing problem is the issue of land rights ... slum
dwellers have no legal documentation ... (or) security of tenure and are left to the mercy of
governments who can pursue evictions with little fear of reprimand." || |
areas on the periphery of urban centres generally consist of informal
settlements that have no clearly defined legal status. Therefore, the slum
dwellers have no legal documentation to support their residency. This means
residents do not have security of tenure and are left to the mercy of
governments who can pursue evictions with little fear of reprimand because the
poor do not possess the political clout to hold the government accountable.
the problems of impoverished housing and derisory land rights are the squalid
conditions that are synonymous with the poverty of slum settlements. A lack of
clean drinking water, inadequate sanitation facilities that help the spread of
numerous diseases, along with overcrowding, the increased use of motorized
transport and hazardous energy supplies, among other factors, all contribute to
detrimental living conditions. These pose a constant threat to the lives of
millions as well as causing natural environments to degenerate. As slum areas
continue to expand in a haphazard fashion with little or no urban planning and
as the population in these areas continues to grow, an ever-increasing demand
on resources and services already stretched beyond capacity is created. Safe
drinking water is a case in point.
first, access to safe drinking water in recent years seemed to be improving. For
example, UN-Habitat estimated that 26 out of 54 countries are on track for
meeting the MDG drinking water supply target. Also, 245 million Africans gained
access to improved drinking water between 1990 and 2006. However, because of
population increases the number of people without access to improved drinking
water actually increased from 280 million in 1990 to 341 million in 2006.22
for example, although the urban population without access to safe drinking
water declined from 20% in 1990 to 13% in 2004, the number of urban households
without a residential piped water supply increased from 76% to 93% in the same
period. The lack of residential supply has been shown to be linked to increases
in unplanned settlements in urban centres and the accompanying population
Two outcomes arise from this situation. Firstly, slum residents have to pay
more for their water. Secondly, because the cost is prohibitive, more people
have to rely on unsafe sources risking exposure to more water-borne diseases.
In the slums in Kampala,
the Ugandan capital, water costs three times more than it does in planned
neighbourhoods. Additionally, this leads to a situation of profiteering where
entrepreneurs can exploit municipal water sources and sell it on to slum residents
at exorbitant costs. Many residents have little choice but to draw water from
unsafe sources, resulting in frequent outbreaks of various diseases like
cholera and dysentery.24
other problem is the immediate danger to potable water posed by the pollution
and waste products that can contaminate water sources. In this respect, it is
not an exaggeration to say that many African cities are drowning in their own
refuse. A lack of even the most basic sanitation facilities, like adequate pit
latrines, is creating health crises for millions of people in urban centres.
Sanitation deficits were inherited from colonial times, when the controlling
empires ignored the need for infrastructural upgrades like drainage and sewage
systems for the local populations. However, this situation of neglect has
largely continued in the intervening years—so much so that according to the
Mercer Index on Health and Sanitation, 16 out of 25 of the world's dirtiest
cities are African. The extent of the filth and refuse is inescapable and is
creating a social and economic nightmare. For example, the Ethiopian capital, Addis
Ababa, ranks sixth on the list and "faces one of the worst sanitation problems on both the
continent of Africa as well as in the world. The lack of adequate sanitation
programs results in infant mortality, low life expectancy and the transmission
of water-borne diseases."25
No other continent is as well represented on this Index. Contributing to this are
the inadequate and sometimes harmful policies of different levels of
governments and institutions.
| ||It is
not an exaggeration to say that many African cities are drowning in their own
refuse ... according to the
Mercer Index on Health and Sanitation, 16 out of 25 of the world's dirtiest
cities are African." || |
are essentially economic vehicles. Cities possess the physical, financial and
intellectual resources that can be used to spur and sustain economic growth and
prosperity for a country. The levels of urban poverty witnessed in African
cities indicate that this dynamic is largely missing. In fact, negative
economic factors, like inflation, falling wages and price increases, have
actually contributed to urban population growth. This is paradoxical, but in
African cities physical, financial and intellectual resources are massively
under-utilized or often criminally-utilized. In many respects, this situation
can be attributed to policy failures at the national, municipal and
states have failed their cities. The laissez-faire
approach to urban planning has ensured that slum settlements have expanded
beyond control. With this, governments have no incentive to provide sufficient
and adequate housing stock for their population. Furthermore, governments can
ride roughshod over legitimate claims to land, such as egalitarian communal
landownership, in preference of market forces that will generate profit. So,
selling land to line the pockets of government officials will either turn
ordinary landowners into renters or may force existing inhabitants to move to
another poor settlement in the city which increases the density of population
in that area and creates an additional strain on resources. In any number of
countries—Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Egypt, to name a few—examples exist where the
poor urban majority are held hostage by a minority of unscrupulous
land-speculators that include the wealthy elite, tribal chiefs and politicians.26
the while, municipal governments, often paralyzed by a state emphasis on
centralized government, have failed to invest the necessary financial capital
into upgrading basic essential services like piped water, sewage systems,
refuse collection and electricity. As well, an inability to administer fair
taxation policies indicates the combination of corruption, inefficiency and
diminished capacity of municipal governments. For example, many municipalities
are unable, or unwilling, to assess and collect property taxes, particularly
from wealthy landowners. The urban rich are generally reluctant to pay their
taxes because of the levels of corruption; they do not believe their money is
put to good use. The tax evasion of the rich has even been described as "criminal"
by some observers.27
Additionally, in places like Nairobi,
and Dar es Salaam,
state governments own huge tracts of land but do not pay municipal taxes.28
It is often the case that municipalities put emphasis on sales taxes and user
fees, which places most of the burden on the poor and not on the rich. Tax
revenues from employment are also well-below capacity, since 60% of urban
employment is estimated to be in the informal sector.29
institutions have failed African cities as well—not least, the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund-imposed Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) in the 1980s and
1990s whose effects are still felt today. For example, the informal employment
sector in cities continues to thrive in Africa,
to the point where the UN has projected that this sector will have to absorb up
to 90% of new workers in the short term.30
Formal job creation has virtually ceased in many countries.31
Formal job creation was not the only victim of these neo-liberal conditional
loan agreements. These policies forced governments to reduce their spending on
public programs and domestic policies. In other words, "Everywhere the IMF
and World Bank… offered poor countries the same poisoned chalice of
devaluation, privatization, removal of import controls and food subsidies, enforced
cost-recovery in health and education, and ruthless downsizing of the public
The focus of many SAPs was to redress perceived biases in national policies
that favoured urban centres. For example, national bureaucracies in urban
centres, although bloated, were helping to create a middle class. However, the
civil service ranks were decimated by SAPs targeting public spending, and
forced many in the emerging middle-classes back into poverty. The emerging
industrial sector in African cities is another instance where SAPs caused
considerable damage. Industries, such as manufacturing, were often assisted by
governments through subsidies and import controls. These were largely
eradicated by SAPs which put the emphasis on agricultural and commodities export,
so that countries could pay for the interest on conditional loans.33
Undoubtedly, there were many significant problems with national policies before
the onset of SAPs, but SAPs did not solve these problems and introduced a whole
range of new ones. This included stunting economic growth in African cities,
which created unparalleled levels of urban poverty.
Outlook and potential solutions
Ultimately, if African
cities continue on their present trajectory with little recourse to large-scale
solutions, their future is bleak. One Hobbesian scenario speaks of the
dispossessed masses thrown into the arms of extremism by unending poverty,
engaging in conflict against their government oppressors. In this world, urban
spaces disintegrate into the battlefields of a war that pits the poor against
| ||If African
cities continue on their present trajectory with little recourse to large-scale
solutions, their future is bleak ... the most urgent need is to upgrade
essential services." || |
what can be done to cut the Gordian knot which has placed African cities in the
bind of decay and poverty? Arguably, the most urgent need is to upgrade
essential services, especially in slum areas, such as piped water, improved
sanitation facilities and refuse collection. To achieve this, municipal
authorities need to be empowered both politically and financially to embark on
a massive program of improving these services. Encouragingly, municipalities
are working together on these issues. For instance, the South African Cities Network is a
partnership of nine municipalities whose scope of work includes promoting sustainable cities, economic growth and poverty
reduction, urban renewal, good governance, integrated land management and
service delivery, and city development strategies. In pushing their agendas
with national governments, local authorities will find strength in numbers.
Beyond investing more power
and money in municipalities, national governments need to address the issue of
land rights. Most governments have been guilty of breaking promises to the
poor, initiating forced evictions and demolishing settlements. This detrimental
recurring pattern cannot hide urban poverty, let alone solve it. Slums are not
the cause of urban poverty, but rather its most visible symptom. Furthermore,
there is a strong case to be made that making land available to the urban poor
will stimulate economic development in the cities through construction and
entrepreneurial initiatives. To this end, social movements and NGOs have a role
to play in unifying and mobilizing poor urban residents to communicate with
governments about the urgency of having secure and permanent tenure in informal
settlements. Other cooperative solutions that may address the problems of
African cities will be explored in further articles in this volume.
baseMjondolo Press Release, "Another Devastating Shack Fire in the Kennedy
Road Settlement," August 10, 2010, http://www.abahlali.org/node/7251.
2. M. Birkinshaw, "A
Big Devil in the Jondolos: A Report on Shack Fires," September 2008, p. 16,
3. UN Habitat, "The State of African
Cities 2008" (New York: United Nations, 2008), p. ix.
4. M. Davis, Planet of Slums (New York: Verso, 2007), p. 60.
5. Malan, cited in ibid., p. 60-61.
6. Adapted from: "UN World Population
Prospects: The 2001 Revision". (New York: United Nations, 2002).
7. UN Habitat, "Planet," p. 4-5.
9. Davis, p. 4.
10. C. Purefoy, "Hopes and Troubles Collide
in Africa's Mega-city". CNN, April 6, 2010, http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/africa/04/06/lagos.megacity.commuting/index.html.
11. OECD, "Preparing for the Future: A Vision
of West Africa in the Year 2020," cited in Davis, p. 6.
12. Guldin, "What's a Peasant to Do?"
cited in Davis, p. 9.
13. Davis, p. 6.
14. UN Habitat, "Planet", p. 12.
15. Ibid, p. 87.
16. Davis, p. 28.
17. Ibid., p. 27.
18. L. Pawson, "Angola: worlds in
collision," Open Democracy, April 10, 2007, http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-africa_democracy/angola_collision_4514.jsp.
19. Solidarity Peace Trust, "A Fractured
Nation: Operation Murambatsvina – Five Years On," July 30, 2010, http://www.solidaritypeacetrust.org/787/a-fractured-nation-operation-murambatsvina-%e2%80%93-five-years-on/.
20. T. Saxon, "Operation
Murambatsvina- Victims Still Crying for a Decent Living," September 19, 2010, http://www.thezimbabwean.co.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=34244:operation-murambatsvina-victims-still-crying-for-a-decent-living&catid=52&Itemid=32.
21. AfricaFiles: Action Focus, "Chad:
10,000 at imminent risk of forced eviction," October 6, 2010. To
find out more about this current crisis and action you can take, click on this
22. UN Habitat, "Planet," p.42.
25. Mercer Index on Health and Sanitation,
cited in Forbes Magazine , http://www.forbes.com/2008/02/26/pollution-baku-oil-biz-logistics-cx_tl_0226dirtycities.html?feed=rss_popstories.
26. Davis, p. 87-89.
27. Ibid., p. 68.
28. E. Harsch, "African cities under
strain," Africa Renewal 15, 1-2 (June
2001), p. 30, http://www.un.org/ecosocdev/geninfo/afrec/vol15no1/151city.htm.
29. S. Hanson, "Urbanization in
Sub-Saharan Africa," Council of Foreign Relations, October 1, 2007.
30. UN Habitat, "Challenge of Slums,"
New York: United Nations, 2003, p. 104.
31. Davis, p. 177.
32. Ibid., p. 153.
33. UN Habitat, "Challenge," p.
34. Davis, p. 199-206.
Opinions expressed in the articles appearing in this ezine are those of the writer(s) and not do necessarily reflect the views of the AfricaFiles' editors and network members. They are included in our material as a reflection of a diversity of views and a variety of issues. Material written specifically for AfricaFiles may be edited for length, clarity or inaccuracies.