Accepted paper:

Providing on the peripheries: exploring multiple logics, drivers and consequences of housing delivery on African urban edges


Sarah Charlton (University of the Witwatersrand)

Paper short abstract:

Diverse forms of housing delivery are shaping the edges of African cities, driven by multiple actors and varying logics. Spatial contradictions and tensions can ensue. Selected cases from South Africa and Ethiopia show the significance of complex provenances for everyday life on the periphery.

Paper long abstract:

Diverse forms of housing delivery are shaping the edges of African cities, contributing significant growth or change to these urban peripheries. Beyond speculative private residential development, housing and land is being supplied through state policy, traditional authorities and political parties, as well as private sector developers and individuals. Relationships between these various actors can be complex. Further, a range of logics can underlie geographically peripheral developments, including aspirations for home ownership; access to a basic urban foothold with relatively low barriers to entry; the ongoing demands of spatial and governance histories and legacies; political ambitions and real estate profits. From this mix of drivers and motivations spatial contradictions or tensions can ensue. Even in cases where the state is driving housing delivery at scale, developments can be at odds with other state spatial plans and logics. The results of such disconnects are significant for residents living in peripheral areas and impact on the extent of their marginalisation or incorporation into city life. Using fieldwork from the multi-site and multi-city Living the Urban Peripheries research project in South Africa and Ethiopia, including key informant interviews, this paper explores drivers, relationships and logics in housing delivery in selected localities in EThekwini, Gauteng (SA), and Addis Ababa(Ethiopia), and the ways in which these inform or contest wider spatial plans and logics. The paper argues that understanding and explaining this provenance is important in considering the experiences of everyday life on the periphery.

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The politics of life on the urban margins in South Africa