Introductory Session - Mapping Urban Poverty in Africa and China

Mon 30 Jul 2012 at 10:00 am to at 11:00 am

Parent event: 

Moderator: Dr. Liu Haifang, Deputy Director and Secretary General, Centre for African Studies of Peking University

Speaker: Allan Cain, Director, Development Workshop Angola

Discussant: Cupertino Gourgel, the Consul General of the Republic of Angola in Hong Kong SA


Allan Cain, Director, Development Workshop Angola: Participatory mapping of urban poverty.

This presentation cross-cuts the four workshop themes and explains a method for measuring urbanization and its impacts in relation to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which aim to reduce poverty by 50% 2000- 2015 and create pro-poor and healthy cities. The UN-Habitat Global Urban Observatory identifies five indicators for this: water, sanitation, living space, safe housing, and tenure. It is often assumed that urban mirrors economic growth, but while there has been poverty reduction in Asia (especially China) 1990-2010, this has not been the case in Africa, where, in many places, 70% or more of urban populations live in slums. Measurements of income inequality show serious disparities especially in many African cities, Johannesburg being particularly unequal. While the rich benefit from urban growth, the poor and women generally do not. The urban poverty observatory in Angola funded by BMGF has identified that, in terms of coverage and access to housing and urban services, affordability is the key determining factor.

Participatory monitoring is having an impact on municipal planning through advocacy, namely having an urban poverty network and providing space for consultation and negotiation. The data created using GIS and remote sensing (disaggregated by area and by gender) helps decision-makers measure gains and losses by selected indicators of urban poverty. Municipal Forums have been created as a space for effective governance. There is a great investment of savings mobilized in informal housing but less than 20% has formal title. Land prices are escalating in both formal and informal markets. 76% of Luanda residents live informally with a rate of 6-7% per annum urban growth. Large scale investment is needed in the provision of water and sanitation to these urban populations. China and Angola have the fastest urban growth rates, so joint development of informed strategies for the urban poor can be beneficial.


Allan Cain's presentation transcript


The Moderator commented that this is a useful model for replication, using data and developing institutions for pro-poor urban governance.

The discussant, Cupertino Gourgel, the Consul General of the Republic of Angola in Hong Kong SAR, commented that thanks to China and other partners there have been rapid recent improvements in Angola where the war brought uncontrolled urbanization but now ten years of peace are bringing such improvements as we are discussing here.

Participants asked about Luanda’s income inequalities and reliance on oil whose benefits are not distributed to the poor. This was compared with “jobless growth” throughout the continent and how to link growth and urban poverty reduction. It was pointed out that governments, including municipalities, need the kind of data generated to develop policies that work. The “ghost cities” are based on undeveloped financing strategies – construction finance does not guarantee access by poor households. Fiscal decentralization (as in China) helps but is not the whole solution.

Cupertino Gourgel           Allan Cain