Know your city




Background

According to the 2010 UN-Habitat forecast, by 2025, more than half of the African population will live in urban areas, with an urban population growing almost twice as fast as the general population during the next quarter century. In the year 2025, majority of the poor in Africa will be living in urban as opposed to rural areas.

Currently, a large and growing number of urban dwellers live in poor and unplanned neighbourhoods. With incomplete or out-dated information about slums and informal settlements, local governments often design policies that ignore or unsatisfactorily address the social and economic deficits that residents experience in slum neighbourhoods. This leads to increased mistrust between communities and local authorities, and exacerbates the extent of these needs.

Based on current trends, 75% of Africans will be living in slums by 2025. Unless something is done to close this gap, African cities might turn out to be a trouble region, a situation that might put decentralization and democracy at risk.

In direct response to these projections and the already existing deficits and inequalities of urban development in African cities, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa (UCLG AFRICA) and Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI), as members of Cities Alliance (CA), entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and implemented the Know Your City Programme in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso and Lusaka, Zambia with the aim to catalyse urban transformation processes that promote more inclusive cities through partnerships between local governments and slum dweller communities. 

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 Programme Rationale and Benefits

Currently, a large and growing number of urban dwellers live in poverty because most African city development plans exclude the informal settlement. In almost all African cities, comprehensive information about slums and informal settlements are out dated or incomplete. These households and neighbourhoods are increasing each year, and the deprivation they face gets exacerbated because they are excluded from the financing strategy of the city. 

Policies are designed without adequate knowledge of who lives in the informal settlement. The government policies are therefore not satisfactory to the dwellers and this situation then increases the risk of mistrust between the communities and the local authorities. There is also a divide between the informal and the legal city dwellers. Unless something is done to close this gap, African cities might turn out to be a trouble region, a situation that might put decentralization at risk.

This project will address the urgent need to recognize that informal settlement is part of a city and that the urban poor communities have fundamental rights to be included in the planning and provision of public services. 

A better knowledge of cities will help local authorities plan. Knowledge starts with numbers, know your city campaign is the first step to improving the service delivery of local governments in Africa.