P089


Contested waterfronts in Kenya, Cameroon and Côte d´Ivoire 
Convenor:
Irit Eguavoen (University of Bonn)
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Format:
Panels
Location:
KH105
Start time:
29 June, 2017 at 16:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:
1

Short Abstract:

Projections of environmental change, as well as real estate development turning towards Africa leads to a new focus on urban waterfronts. Political visions may foster a more sustainable design and better consider the needs of the inhabitants. But they may also trigger green gentrification.

Long Abstract

Waterfronts in African cities are often either fenced private lands, industrial zones or marginalised habitation on public land. Projections of environmental change (sea level rise, flooding, coastal erosion), as well as transnational real estate development turning towards Africa in search of new markets leads to a new focus on urban waterfronts. Political visions come to the forefront of how a sustainable and secure city should look. This process opens a political window of opportunity that may foster a new infrastructural design in order to be more sustainable and better meet the needs of the inhabitants. But it may also trigger speculative urbanism and further enhance economic segregation (green gentrification). In this context, social mobilization and citizenship become relevant issues. Urban development visions and public debates on waterfront development will be analysed by presenting a case of urban planning in Kenya and ethnographic case studies from Cameroon and Côte d´Ivoire. Arenas of social navigation and political debate will be explored to gain knowledge about the resources and repertoires of diverse interest groups, and their political influence.

Accepted papers:

Author:

Alessandro Frigerio (Politecnico di Milano)

Paper short abstract:

The waterfront of Malindi (Kenya) is facing severe environmental issues, uncontrolled urbanization and privatization. The paper presents a competition entry, awarded by UNHABITAT, envisioning a shared design process for its redevelopment as resilient and inclusive socio-ecological infrastructure.

Paper long abstract:

In Malindi, uncontrolled urbanization favoured dynamics of privatization of the coastline, with a concurrent rapid growth of formal and informal settlements lacking proper infrastructure and collective spaces, as well as a hazardous pressure on the fragile ecosystem. In 2016, UNHABITAT, together with the Ministry of Land, Housing and Urban Development of Kenya, organized an international competition to provide a sustainable scenario for the re-development of the city's waterfront. The paper presents the authors' proposal, awarded by the jury. The project envisions Malindi waterfront as socio-ecological infrastructure, with the aim of answering to the environmental challenges related to climate-change and natural hazard and, at the same time, providing an interactive platform for social inclusivity, economical enhancement and cultural empowerment. The proposal moves from a general strategy for the coastline and then investigates in detail the design of the area facing the town centre as main metropolitan interface. The design effort aims at providing an urban and architectural platform, based on local patterns, to be implemented over time with various in/formal interactions between spaces and agencies. Ecological and infrastructural issues are hybridized with economic interactive cycles (related to fishing, tourism, commerce) and non-economic drivers (intangible values and personal stories). The proposed patterns are samples of a possible multitude to be developed through participative processes with citizens and already active stakeholders. This shared process of agreement on priorities could be the base for the redefinition of this public space as public good, a potential way to improve the city resilience overcoming conflicts.

Author:

Sandro Simon (University of Cologne)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores hybridization processes in the wetlands of Bamenda (CMR), where different forms of use and imaginations of urbanity intermingle. It thereby traces two infrastructural measures, their ‘grounding’ in wetness and how they mediated the relations between authorities and wetland users.

Paper long abstract:

Situated in the North-East of Bamenda, the Wetlands constitute the ultimate larger open sphere within the city and 'divide' two Fondoms and two governmental subdivisions. Within the last 50 years, the area changed from dry- to wetland and from customarily controlled to governmentally owned land. They are used by herders and fisherman and cultivated by a multitude of mostly female farmers.

This paper seeks to assess and connect two major infrastructural measures - one in the past, one in the future. It thereby avoids notions of fixed 'fronts' or 'borders' and instead traces ways of hybridization (cf. Swyngedouw, Haraway) where material and discursive as well as natural and social processes of place- and force-making intermingle over space and time (cf. Tsing).

The construction of a road across the wetlands and the channeling of the river in 2007, funded largely by the EU, aimed at the increase of connectivity and flood prevention. However, due to the accumulation of sedimentation and (city-) waste at the road and lacking funds and cooperation for maintenance, the water started to 'go out of place' again.

On the other hand, in the anticipation of the construction of the city's second center in the wetlands through a PPP, global notions of urbanity, where water should be controlled and certain work practices pushed 'outside', meet localized imaginations and lived (watery) experiences. Negotiations thereby largely unfold 'indirectly' via the material co-configuration of the wetlands by the different actors (e.g. signboards, cultivation or excavation) and the 'reading' by the counterpart.

Author:

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.

Author:

Becanti Michèle Bohoussou (Université Alassane Ouattara / Université de Neuchâtel )

Paper short abstract:

L'enjeu est de comprendre la gouvernance urbaine dans la ville d'Abidjan, d'analyser les rapports liés au partage du pouvoir sur la ville, entre l'État et les acteurs privés (sociétés immobilières, et particuliers)et d'appréhender les disparités générées par cette ambivalence.

Paper long abstract:

L'urbanisation en Afrique est récente et la Côte d'Ivoire n'est pas restée en marge de cette évolution. C'est à la veille des indépendances de 1960 que le pays va amorcer ce processus. Ainsi de toutes les villes du pays, Abidjan est celle qui a le plus bénéficié des largesses de l'État. Car avant la crise économique de 1980, l'État s'était engagé pour le développement urbain et la construction d'un logement pour chaque citadin. Mais, l'amenuisement des ressources financières, l'adoption des programmes d'ajustement structurels pour soutenir le pays va obliger l'État à se défaire du développement urbain et à libéraliser le domaine. En effet, les pouvoirs publics sous contraintes vont se muer en régulateur et arbitre en abandonnant leur rôle d'instigateur de l'aménagement urbain. Cependant, en dépit de la libéralisation du secteur, du processus de décentralisation et des politiques d'habitat de logements sociaux : les inégalités d'accès aux logements des populations vulnérables persistent. La nomenclature du partage du pouvoir sur la gouvernance urbaine ne permet pas à l'état de faire face aux disparités dans le secteur de l'habitat. Le marché de l'immobilier est contrôlé par des particuliers ou des structures privées, et ces derniers jouent sur l'offre et la demande. Les populations économiquement faibles se sentent marginalisés car n'ayant pas les ressources financières suffisantes pour habiter les zones salubres menant ainsi vers une ségrégation urbaine de ladite ville.

Author:

Gnankon Estelle Gisele Kabran (Centre Suisse de Recherche Scientifique)

Paper short abstract:

The paper presents the different precautions for the mobility between a peninsular in Abidjan where many evicted populations had found refuge, and other parts of town. It also analyze perception of residents vis a vis the lagoonal transport and their social connections to other parts of the town.

Paper long abstract:

Abidjan is characterised by the presence of the Ébrié Lagoon. In 2014, the population of Abidjan was 4.7 million. Less wealthy people live on marginal public lands, including the waterfronts of the highly polluted lagoon because of available land and low rents. Some of these areas also lack access to roads or bridges. The pinasse (a wooden ferry) represents the most important means to connect to other areas of the city. The paper presents the case of the peninsular Adjahui, which was until 2008 a fisher camp but became densely populated after evictions of the Port Bouët waterfront and other informal settlements. The objective study is to analyze the different precautions for the mobility of residents between Adjahui and other parts of town. In addition, we analyze the use, the mobility pattern and perception of residents vis a vis the transport across the lagoon and their remaining social connections to other parts of the metropolis.