Safe, sustainable and resilient cities in Africa and the global development agenda.

Author:Hudson, Tamzin
 
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People are moving into cities at increasingly rapid rates, and it is anticipated that 70 per cent of the global population will be living in urban areas by 2050. The world is increasingly urban, and Africa, along with parts of Asia, is now a centre of urbanisation. People are increasingly moving to cities in Africa in search of improved livelihood and other opportunities.

Factors driving urbanisation and rural-to-urban migration include the need for migrant labour within the developed national economy, which is considered an attractive source of actual or perceived employment. Cities offer educational, medical and social facilities with transport networks and offer a potential way out of poverty.

African cities, however, have not intentionally prepared for the current or future influx of new residents. Against this large-scale human need, planning is catching up with rather than leading human settlement formation, which has created further problems for land use policies and plans. This presents many infrastructural challenges, one of which is access to decent and safe housing, which can lead to the formation of informal settlements, or slums.

It is difficult for national or city governments to make housing and residential spaces available on a large enough scale or at a low enough price to match the needs of the urban poor and those migrating to cities. Nor is it easy for governments to provide shelter on an instant-access, less bureaucratic basis that the arriving rural and urban poor urgently require.

Habitat for Humanity works to improve housing while acknowledging the importance of physical improvements and basic services to improve living conditions, reduce vulnerabilities and improve the safety of informal settlement dwellers. With its Build Solid Ground campaign, that is taking place across seven countries in Europe with 14 different partners, it seeks to educate a wide public on the importance of housing and urban issues, especially in Africa. This campaign builds on the experience of global advocacy efforts of Habitat for Humanity, the Solid Ground, to improve access to land for shelter.

As land values within cities continue to rise due to an ever-higher number of residents, affordable land becomes increasingly scarce, driving up one of the key input costs into housing and further eroding affordable housing delivery.

Communities on the outskirts of cities often lack access to basic services. Families and individuals living in...

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