The battle for sustainability in Africa will be won or lost in the cities. This session considers how the worsening challenges of rapid urbanization in the continent can best be addressed, paying particular attention to the needs and development concerns of the poor.
Poverty and rapid urbanization are two of the greatest challenges facing Africa today. UN-Habitat estimates that sub-Saharan African cities have over 166 million slum dwellers, most of who find themselves in the informal sector where they simply do not earn enough to afford decent shelter and services. What does sustainability mean for such cities and townspeople? Agenda 21 of the Rio Summit (and Rio + 20) emphasize that sustainable development has to be socially just and ecologically stable, and underscore the need for sustainable lifestyles. This session considers how poverty and the informal city have developed in Africa over the last 50 years, and the extent to which government policies have helped or constrained the poor. It then considers how poverty and widening inequalities in the cities can be addressed and reversed. We welcome papers that address various aspects of urban poverty, inequality and social policy in the areas of health, education, gender and so on. Topics include, but are not limited to land and housing for the poor, inclusive and accountable urban governance, urban informal sector promotion and management, improving urban infrastructure and services, movements to redress urban inequalities and grievances, African cities and climate change, the NEPAD Cities Programme and other programmes to promote sustainable and inclusive urbanization in the continent.