Accepted paper:

Reclaiming the right to the city: everyday practices of service provision for South Sudanese refugees in Khartoum


Griet Steel (Utrecht University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines how South Sudanese refugees in Khartoum reclaim their right to the city. It shows the creative ways in which they find access to public services such as electricity, water and transport by moving into first-class neighborhoods as guardians of unfinished construction sites.

Paper long abstract:

Migrants are generally defined as people moving from one place to another to find better livelihood opportunities. In the case of South Sudanese refugees in Khartoum the situation is more complex as it are migrants who already lived in the capital of Sudan, but moved to South Sudan in 2011 which after several decades of conflict officially seceded from Sudan. However, as soon as the war broke out in 2013, many South Sudanese returned to Khartoum, but due to their refugee status could no longer have access to the dwellings or places they were living in before. Although many South Sudanese ended up in informal settlements or refugee camps in the outskirts of the city, several ones also tried to blend into the city on the basis of informal arrangements with landowners in central, first class neighborhoods, where they become a guardian for unfinished construction sites. By moving into the urban core, the South Sudanese are capable of claiming access to informal jobs, electricity, water and transport, public services that are not as common in the peripheral neighborhoods were most of their peers reside. By examining these creative ways of connecting and disconnecting with public services in first class neighborhoods, the paper will throw an innovative light on the right to the city debate by showing the specific way in which Sudanese migrants (re)claim their right to the city. This reclamation ultimately improves their livelihoods and creates dynamics that might promote more inclusivity and heterogeneous spaces within the city.

panel Pol22
Migration and inequality: the African migrant and access to public services