Urban Risk or Resilience? Improving Informal Settlements in Urban Africa


In 2008, we reached the urban tipping point: across the world, the same number of people lived in cities as in rural areas. Ten years later, the rate of urbanization continues to rise, especially in cities across Africa and Asia, and often in fragile and conflict-affected regions. The lack of effective urban planning has enormous consequences: an estimated one billion people live in unsafe slums without enough services. But with smart policies and strong infrastructure, cities could build more resilient urban communities.

Three large-scale projects in Kibera, Nairobi, one of Africa’s largest informal settlements, have provided new infrastructure, services, and multi-story housing in an area beset by poverty, crime, and flooding. However, despite these successes, the lack of consultation and engagement with city residents led to new and renewed tensions. In Mozambique, mangrove forests protect city infrastructure and housing, but they are also an important income source. How can development projects help urban communities balance their short-term needs with their long-term resilience?

Join us in a discussion with researchers and practitioners from International Alert, Kounkuey Design Initiatives, King’s College, and the U.S. Agency for International Development, on the interaction between environmental, development, and social dynamics and the implications for effective urban development. 

Coffee and and pastries will be available at 9:00am.

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Media guests, including TV crews, are welcome and should RSVP directly to Benjamin.Dills@wilsoncenter.org. Media bringing heavy electronics MUST indicate this in their response so they may be cleared through our building security and allowed entrance. Please err toward responding if you would like to attend.

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