Theme Four - Participatory urban planning

Tue 31 Jul 2012 at 11:15 am to at 1:00 pm

Parent event: 

Moderator: Prof. David Westendorff, University of Memphis
Speaker 1: Jing Feng, China Academy for Urban Planning and Design, Beijing
Speaker 2: Dr. Shang Jing, Vice President, China Academy of Urban Planning and Design
Speaker 3: Jane Weru, Executive Director, Akiba Mashinani Trust, Nairobi
Discussant: Allan Cain, Development Workshop, Angola

Jane Weru, Executive Director, Akiba Mashinani Trust (AMT), Nairobi - Community participation in urban planning: the role of slum dwellers’ federations.

A group of slum dwellers in Mukuru, Nairobi, were able to mobilize significant sums of money by amassing their daily savings to purchase 23 acres (10 Ha) of the land they are living on, which is contested and environmentally vulnerable land from which they are under constant threat of eviction. This group is part of the Slum Dwellers International (SDI) federation. Savings are about 20 US cents to US$2 per day per member. The owners of the land wanted about US$ 1.2 million for it. Challenged by AMT to raise 20%, the slum dwellers expanded their membership from 500 to 2,200 and raised a considerable amount.  Although banks were resistant to loaning to slum dwellers, AMT succeeded in negotiating a reduction in the land price to $653,600 and a five year loan for this amount after making a cash guarantee of $285,000 through SDI, supported by BMGF. This loan was paid off in less than two years thanks to the vibrant savings scheme and management of fluctuating interest rates. Although the asset is valued at $7.1 million and $118.000 has been raised towards the SDI guarantee, problems are not over. Most significant is the issue of affordability of the housing units planned, which have to include high-rise because there are so many savers compared to the land size. Most members can only afford $24 per month mortgage payments, which is their current rent level. This is a challenge in terms of physical and financial design. There is a plan to build 2,000 units for members and about 700 for market sale to pay for infrastructure, which Kenya’s Ministry of Housing has indicated interest in supporting. Project cost is estimated as $44 million including technical preparation and financing is an issue. Housing shortage is creating a situation where encroachment through political instigation has forced residents to build a fence to defend the land but members are still saving and others are following their example, indicating a great untapped potential for affordable housing. These are vulnerable groups under constant threat of eviction.



Dr. Shang Jing, Vice President, China Academy of Urban Planning and Design - Planning for regional poverty alleviation in Guizhou province of China.

One third of the population in this area of South West China are poor, about 11.5 million people. The study examines rural-urban linkages and pro-poor urbanization. In the first phase 1978-1992 rural incomes increased with reform and opening up policies. Then 1993-2000 wage incomes increased with the urbanization policy. Since then, with speeding up of urbanization, both family business and wage incomes increased as well as fiscal transfers. It is hard to reduce poverty due to: Low wages and lack of education for the available jobs (high tech and mineral industries); Low family business income due to lack of infrastructure; Population growth on poor land causing environmental degradation; Rural economy is not linked to the cities. Solutions entail a model to protect both the environment and the population. Urbanization improves the rural-urban population balance to increase incomes and conserve the environment. There has been job creation for farmers while some have chosen to move to the new cities. Urban demand has created income for adjoining rural areas. Funds are allocated according to demands from regional, town, county and village levels. Infrastructure includes education, medical care, social security, culture, housing and employment. In 2011 7.1 million people moved from rural to urban in the area, 80% of the rural labor force. Letting people move is policy, even though it is hard to create jobs at first, but the bad cycle is broken. The strategy has five types of urban development with a combination of rural and urban economies: comprehensive urban, mineral, agricultural, tourism and traditional agriculture.


Jing Feng, China Academy for Urban Planning and Design, Beijing - Urban planning case study: slum upgrading in Luanda, Angola.

This is a preliminary 4-month interdisciplinary study not implemented but for discussion. Angola’s rapid economic development began with the end of the civil war in 2001. Rapid and confused urban growth was before that as people fled civil war. Thus of Luanda’s 6.5 million inhabitants, 5.5 million live in unplanned slums. There is an extensive area with no roads or other services, characterized by water logging and uncontrolled garbage dumping. Solutions have to address the security and safety of residents while building upon their ideas and aspirations despite insufficient resources. Economically, the oil (and other) industries plus agriculture and tourism have to be developed together. Socially, the level of education and technical capacity has to be developed. Some measure of re-ruralization is envisaged as a response to the peace-time economy. The study proposes several measures including the development of industrial parks, a modern service industry based on agriculture and industry as well as tourism (creating formal and informal jobs), and a rationalized transport infrastructure that serves the slum areas and opens them up to development. Other infrastructure needed there are power supply, sanitation and garbage disposal. Housing has to be addressed through market, government and resident-led construction for gradual upgrading. A new spatial plan is needed to get rid of the mono-centric focus on the old colonial city.


Moderator: Prof. David Westendorff, University of Memphis.

Discussant: Allan Cain, Development Workshop, Angola


The moderator commented in relation to all three papers and how each relates to the theme of participatory urban planning. In order to achieve pro-poor urban development, appropriate design methods must be employed. In every situation there are potential conflicts and conflicts of interest and these can only be resolved through such methods that involve the participation of all parties, including the communities.

Regarding models of and the evolution of urbanization strategies, historically the apartheid-type approach to slum demolition and relocation was replaced by high rise solutions and the “Singapore” model, and subsequently the in situ upgrading with community involvement. Similarly, in planning theory and practice, the “First generation” models of planning imposed on the immediate realities were replaced by “Second generation” methods labeled “transactional analysis” where multiple interests are reconciled through negotiations. It was also pointed out that “who gets what” in a planning process is a political issue that must be addressed through participatory planning.

Another aspect raised was that there are varied forms of urban development with different socio-cultural needs and histories linked to urban form. For example, Islamic, Western and Chinese cites are different from each other. Sometimes conflicts that appear as political may in fact be based on different perceptions of desirable urban form. The question was raised as to whether Western Chinese models of urbanization can inform Africa, which itself struggles with a colonial heritage.

Some questions were raised on the figures quoted in the paper on Luanda and these were corrected. Similarly, it was pointed out that slum construction penetrates the urbanized areas of the city so there is no sharp boundary as the study implied. It was agreed that a functioning transport network is a fundamental key to urban access, safety and security. Another fundamental is SME workplace planning and security. The conventional planning assumption of a dichotomy between residence and workplace has to be questioned however.

Regarding financing of pro-poor urban development, the banking system is evolving and this must be a part of planning innovations for the valorization of informal (slum) settlements, both the construction of housing and affordable services. With regard to savings mobilization the indigenous African systems are a tremendous potential resource as evidenced by the Mukuru presentation, which also demonstrated active community involvement in the entire process of organizing and planning. However, it also presented the challenge of how to service urban poor community needs in volatile land markets.

With both this presentation on Mukuru and the one on Luanda, implementation is the challenge. Raising capital is one issue but affordable construction is another, requiring specific technical support systems. The Guizhou presentation addressed the challenge of good data, as did the very first presentation on participatory mapping of urban poverty in Luanda, which was complementary to today’s presentation on Luanda.  However, regarding implementation of participatory planning some new types of knowledge and skills are required. These are very specific and were addressed earlier in the workshop particularly under Theme Two on financing of social housing and Theme Three on urban land, services and infrastructure.