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Edited by Carole Ammann and Till Förster

This 10th thematic issue of International Development Policy presents a collection of articles exploring some of the complex development challenges associated with Africa’s recent but extremely rapid pace of urbanisation that challenges still predominant but misleading images of Africa as a rural continent. Analysing urban settings through the diverse experiences and perspectives of inhabitants and stakeholders in cities across the continent, the authors consider the evolution of international development policy responses amidst the unique historical, social, economic and political contexts of Africa’s urban development.
Open Access

Why is Co-management of Parks Not Working in Johannesburg?

The Difficult Reframing of State Mandate and Practices in the Post-Apartheid Era

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Claire Bénit-Gbaffou

Abstract

Johannesburg City Parks and Zoo (JCPZ) has affirmed its strong redistributive objective in post-apartheid Johannesburg, with the rapid development of new urban parks in former black townships. However, its operational budgets have remained limited in the face of the many pressing housing and infrastructural needs. Many park users, especially in formerly white (and still middle-class) suburbs, have resorted to forms of neighbourhood or community management to compensate for JCPZ’s absence. JCPZ is attempting to rebuild its mandate with regards to these public spaces, developing various policy instruments in response to the involvement of park users in the management of urban parks, but also to formalise that involvement. This chapter traces the genealogy of these policy instruments in the making, caught between multiple logics where neo-liberal pressures and models, regular engagements with park users marked by contested legitimacies and racial tensions, and the broader municipal redistributive agenda shape the way in which the post-apartheid state redefines its mandate. The chapter argues that the specific social and racial configurations in which these partnerships are framed on the ground are used by municipal officials to resist transforming their own practices towards more participatory and democratic processes of co-production of parks. The chapter reflects on shifting state mandates in urban governance in contemporary cities of the South and analyses policy instruments crafted for the complex task of formalising and regulating state–society co-production of urban services in the field of park management.

Open Access

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Karen Büscher

Abstract

This chapter addresses rural–urban transformations in the Kivu provinces, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and more particularly focuses on the complex relationship between dynamics of violent conflict and the emergence of urban mining ‘boomtowns’. Mining towns offer fascinating sites from which to investigate the socio-economic and spatial effects of a protracted history of violence, displacement and militarisation. They are the spatial outcomes of dynamics of the transformative power of violent conflict. Moreover, this chapter demonstrates how they also offer interesting spatial as well as analytical starting points from which to study the political geographies of war dynamics in Eastern DRC. It will be argued that the reason why these mining towns evolve into strategic ‘resources’ in violent struggles for power and control is to be found in their urban character as much as in the presence of natural resources. As such, this chapter analyses the process of mining urbanisation in the Kivu provinces as part of (armed) elites’ spatial politics of power and control. As demographic concentrations and economic nodes, mining towns represent important political, economic and social resources for ‘big men’, armed groups and the Congolese state in their broader political struggles for power, legitimacy and authority. In a context of fragmented and multi-scalar governance, the urbanisation process of these towns is the outcome of a complex interaction and contestation of different forms of agency. Based on three ethnographic cases of mining towns that emerged from diverse dynamics of artisanal mining activities and forced displacement, this chapter contributes to broader academic and policy debates on the political nature of mining urbanisation in a context of conflict and fragmented governance.

Open Access

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Sebastian Prothmann

Abstract

Suburbs in many parts of the world fall victim to discriminating assessments from the outside. Pikine, an urban area within the Dakar region of Senegal, which was one of urban Africa’s major government restructuring projects, is no exception. The frequently evoked and generalised narratives of urban lifeworlds often fail to describe the heterogeneous characteristics of neighbourhoods in precarious large agglomerations throughout the world. In particular, the youth in this urban quarter are important drivers of economic growth and means with which to combat poverty and strengthen social cohesion. This chapter, based on 11 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Pikine between 2011 and 2013, will illustrate how resourceful young men organise their lives. On the one hand, they have equipped themselves with distinct identities and switch them depending on the situation. On the other hand, they have resurrected their feelings of solidarity, courage and local pride in the notion of Pikinité as a ‘self-revaluation-standard’. Because of increasingly precarious realities and rising unemployment, individualistic tendencies—combined with the aspiration of self-realisation—have gained ground and challenge these stratagems.

Open Access

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Warren Smit

Abstract

Africa is urbanising rapidly and is facing enormous urban challenges, such as the growth of slums and increasing inequality. Secondary cities, with their smaller economies and less capacitated local governments compared to primary cities, face particularly severe challenges. However, responsibility for key urban governance issues is often fragmented amongst large numbers of government stakeholders with limited capacities and conflicting interests. Key urban governance stakeholders therefore need to be brought together in collaborative processes to jointly develop and implement new strategies that are based on a broader range of interests and meet a broader range of needs. In order to be able to do this, understanding actual urban governance processes, which are essentially about how different actors interact to make and operationalise decisions, is vitally important. This chapter highlights the diversity of actors involved in urban governance in Africa and the complexity of urban governance processes, with Kisumu, a secondary city in Kenya, used as an example. Key actors in urban governance in African cities include all levels of government, political parties, traditional leaders, private sector organisations and informal business organisations (such as traders’ organisations), international agencies and civil society organisations. The basic objects of urban governance can include a wide range of issues, such as land use management, the provision of basic services, ensuring access/mobility and ensuring public health and safety. The diversity of governance actors and of agendas complicates addressing urban issues, but can also be seen as an opportunity for leveraging additional skills and resources through collaborative urban governance processes that bring different stakeholders together to develop and implement more holistic and inclusive strategies.

Open Access

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Edited by Carole Ammann and Till Förster

Open Access

Towards an Integrative Approach to Spatial Transformation

Addressing Contextual and Spatial Indifference in Design, Urban Planning and International Cooperation: A Case Study from Addis Ababa

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Sascha Delz

Abstract

This chapter draws from the author’s research on recent urbanisation processes in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, and its hinterland. It addresses two aspects that are often neglected but crucial when discussing how to adequately address urbanisation along economic development and structural transformation lines: the importance of contextual differences, and the impact of spatial formation. Along these lines, two observations are highlighted: first, that there is an obvious need for new concepts of urbanisation that are driven by, and appropriate for, African contexts; and second, that it is fundamental to reconsider the role of space for economic development and structural change. Addressing these issues, the author argues for a move away from simplistic and abstract models of transition—which have substantially influenced the outcomes of development policies, international development cooperation and spatial practices—and for the exploration of more integrative, contextually informed models of transformation. Using an example of road construction in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, the chapter firstly addresses particular issues related to policies of transition, and secondly, outlines an alternative approach that could address the complex challenges of economic, social and spatial transformation in a more integrative, contextually relevant manner. Suggesting a more open, spatially conscious stance (i.e. dialogic design and planning) and a more collectively conceived planning process (i.e. collective ground), the chapter thus advocates that when dealing with the complex challenges of everyday spaces for urban dwellers, future urban development policies should rather enable a multitude of contextually adequate and integrative proposals than promote a restrained catalogue of universally applied solutions.

Open Access

Series:

Edited by Carole Ammann and Till Förster

Open Access

Series:

Edgar Pieterse

Abstract

Drawing on the author’s direct experiences in urban policy formulation processes on various scales, this chapter makes a case for a more intimate reading and account of macro policy shifts that may hold the potential to advance transformative politics on the national and the urban scale. It argues that new policy concepts and frameworks can advance a more focused politics based on an analysis of the nature and terms of infrastructure investments and considers whether such investments are advancing a more inclusive, labour intensive and sustainable pattern of development in African cities and towns. The chapter asserts that urban governance policy discourses are now connecting urban investments and regulation with macroeconomic imperatives, which could lead to a greater awareness of urban governance within centres of state power. Structurally the chapter identifies examples of policy artefacts on the global, pan-African and national scales to demonstrate the shared potential for a new kind of transformative politics. Thereafter, the chapter sets out a potential methodological register to track, analyse and engage these processes on the urban scale in order to arrive at a propositional sensibility with regard to governing diverse spaces. It calls for a form of research and analysis that is not merely evaluative, after the fact, but rather positioned in the processes of unfolding. There are not enough of these kinds of scholarly accounts that can enrich and deepen debates about the politics and practice of multi-scalar urban governance reform in diverse African settings.