Moderator: Davinder Lamba, Director, Mazingira Institute
Speaker 1: Dr. Liu Haifang, Deputy Director and Secretary General, Centre for African Studies of Peking University
Speaker 2: Allan Cain, Director, Development Workshop Angola
Speaker 3: Dr. Melanie Walker, Deputy Director of Special Initiatives, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Dr. Liu Haifang, Deputy Director and Secretary General, Centre for African Studies of Peking University welcomed participants and described the origins of the workshop in discussions two years ago about the effects on people of super-fast development in Angola.
Allan Cain, Director, Development Workshop Angola, then gave a presentation about urbanization given at the 2011 Bejing Forum and the Centre for African Studies at Peking University. There are two aspects: Concern about unpredicted effects of urbanization in China and peoples’ responses, as the recent floods in Beijing demonstrate; identifying gaps in knowledge about rapid urbanization in Africa and its impact on people, based on issues raised during the 2010 Shanghai Expo “Better City – Better Life”. Not enough is known about the African environment by Chinese academia, policy makers and urban development specialists. The need for comprehensive and participatory urban planning jointly with African counterparts is perhaps evidenced by intensive media finger-pointing recently at the “Ghost city” in Angola built by a Chinese company. The plan was to involve a range of specialized African institutions to discuss these issues, and Mazingira Institute was identified as the workshop host. He then explained the workshop’s focus on Chinese involvement in African urbanization, the objectives being to explore the main issues, good practices and experiences in community participation in urban planning. The workshop also aims to promote more inclusive planning for urban poverty reduction and to share experiences of partnerships so far, building on these to continue such African and Chinese exchanges and partnerships in future.
Dr. Melanie Walker, Deputy Director of Special Initiatives, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, described the urban poverty initiative of BMGF, which started from the awareness that slums were the inevitable setting of their work on health over the last 6-7 years. The “Voices of Citizens for Change” workshop in Angola began trying to identify key partners and actions and recognized that China is a major player. Governance is the key factor, especially the role of municipal governments, but the resources demanded are huge and domestic resources have to be mobilized and directed towards the urban poor.
Davinder Lamba guided participants through the package of documents and the workshop program.
Dr. Melanie Walker, Diana Lee-Smith and Andre Melo
Davinder Lamba and Dr. Liu Haifang