Accepted Paper:

Forceful evictions, new beginnings and land use trends along waterfronts in Abidjan  


Irit Eguavoen (University of Bonn)

Paper short abstract:

The paper presents findings from an ethnographic survey, as well as results from biographical interviews on a peninsular in the middle of Abidjan where thousands of people have found refuge after forceful evictions. The data is contextualised with a remote sensing analysis of land use trends.

Paper long abstract:

Abidjan is home of 4.7 million people and built around the Ébrié Lagoon which dominates the urban landscape. The poorest people tend to establish dwellings on marginal public lands, including the vulnerable waterfronts of the highly-polluted lagoon. Forceful evictions of so-called quartiers d´habitation spontanés and informal business areas in the name of public interest and health have increased since 2011 under the government of liberal president Alassane Quattara. Some households in Abidjan have faced one eviction after the other within a few years. A peninsular at the middle of the metropolis has become the refuge of thousands of people since 2005. Historically, the peninsular was unmapped in city planning and is represented on current maps as either white spot or forest area. As such, it became part of a master plan for the Eco-Aérocité d´Abidjan, whose foreign planners envisaged high real estate development and the activation of the waterfront. Investors strongly used sustainability rhetoric. But in the meantime and rather unnoticed by the wider public, the peninsular became densely populated by new residents and has evolved into a vivid quarter with public infrastructure, amenities and sociality. The paper presents findings from an ethnographic survey among 60 cours communes (ca 450 households) that investigated the demography, as well as results from biographical interviews focussing on evictions, spontaneous urbanisation and new beginnings. The paper also outlines debates around waterfront development in Abidjan generally and presents land use trends based on remote sensing analysis.

Panel P089
Contested waterfronts in Kenya, Cameroon and Côte d´Ivoire