Challenging the Concept of "informal" urbanisation in African Cities: The case of Maxaquene, Maputo, Mozambique

Bidragets oversatte titel: Uformel urbanisering i afrikanske byer concepter myter og realiteter. : Maxaquene, Maputo, Mozambique

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review

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Resumé

Current definitions of urbanity lead to claims that a large proportion of Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) urban population is housed in ‘informal’ settlements, with up to 90% of the new housing stock provided ‘informally’. The key definition of ‘formality’ is that which is regulated or measured in some way by the state – which usually delegates this to professionals - but also that which is ‘ordered’. In most cases in SSA cities urban development has no ‘formal’ professional assistance in the form of architects or engineers, and what is characterised as ‘disorder’ is seen as undesirable, dangerous and – importantly - un-modern.

In 2003 the UN adopted a new terminology for what over decades used to be labelled as ‘informal’, ‘squatter’, ‘illegal’, ‘unplanned’, ‘spontaneous’ settlements or “shanty towns” with the term “slum”. However, defining what slum implies is complex and this author consider the term as prejudiced and not covering the diversity most informal settlements represents and furthermore the term automatically stigmatises a remarkable share of any city population in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The basis for classifying ‘slums’ or ‘informal’ is underpinned by a public health and safety agenda - but in the absence of government support for adequate improvement of service provision in these informal settlements (even more if well located) they become ripe for ‘re-development’, which is then generally private sector driven. The outcome is usually negative for the poor and lower income populations that are pushed out or unable to capitalise on the rising property values.

This paper draws on in-depth studies of the peri-urban settlements of Maputo and demonstrates that the ‘informal’ process is producing self-improving urban form and housing. The paper refers to a concrete current project (Maxaquene A) that initially was aimed at upgrading informal settlements with infrastructure improvements and land reorganisation accepting the right of the existing settlers. However the political reality has proven to take a different stand allowing the private sector a prominent role in the process meaning that a comprehensive redevelopment project now has been brought forward however with substantial local resistance and so far this project is at hold.

This paper argues fundamentally for a formal recognition of these areas as a valid and productive form of urbanism in transformation and hence recognise land rights as the basis for stimulating further improvement. The ‘disorder’ such areas seem to represent is in fact underpinned by social order and the paper evidences this in describing the living conditions and the relationship with the emerging form of social architecture. In this it refers to the spatial organisation of space in the individual household, including plot organisation and house interior, the building technology applied and the architectural expression that these structures represent.

The paper argues that this is people driven urban development with limited assistance if any from the state is an alternative modernity to be celebrated and assisted and not seen as aberrant and especially in the name of an out-dated modernity increasingly queried in its place of origin.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
Publikationsdato10 mar. 2013
Antal sider9
StatusUdgivet - 10 mar. 2013
BegivenhedEAAE/ARCC Conference Milan: Cities in transformation . Research and Design - EAAE, Milano, Italien
Varighed: 7 jun. 201210 jun. 2012

Konference

KonferenceEAAE/ARCC Conference Milan
LokationEAAE
LandItalien
ByMilano
Periode07/06/201210/06/2012

Emneord

  • Concept of City
  • challenging the concept of informal settlements

Kunstnerisk udviklingsvirksomhed (KUV)

  • Nej

Citer dette

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Eskemose Andersen, J 2013, 'Challenging the Concept of "informal" urbanisation in African Cities: The case of Maxaquene, Maputo, Mozambique', Paper fremlagt ved EAAE/ARCC Conference Milan, Milano, Italien, 07/06/2012 - 10/06/2012.

Challenging the Concept of "informal" urbanisation in African Cities : The case of Maxaquene, Maputo, Mozambique. / Eskemose Andersen, Jørgen.

2013. Afhandling præsenteret på EAAE/ARCC Conference Milan, Milano, Italien.

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review

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N2 - Current definitions of urbanity lead to claims that a large proportion of Sub-Saharan Africa’s (SSA) urban population is housed in ‘informal’ settlements, with up to 90% of the new housing stock provided ‘informally’. The key definition of ‘formality’ is that which is regulated or measured in some way by the state – which usually delegates this to professionals - but also that which is ‘ordered’. In most cases in SSA cities urban development has no ‘formal’ professional assistance in the form of architects or engineers, and what is characterised as ‘disorder’ is seen as undesirable, dangerous and – importantly - un-modern. In 2003 the UN adopted a new terminology for what over decades used to be labelled as ‘informal’, ‘squatter’, ‘illegal’, ‘unplanned’, ‘spontaneous’ settlements or “shanty towns” with the term “slum”. However, defining what slum implies is complex and this author consider the term as prejudiced and not covering the diversity most informal settlements represents and furthermore the term automatically stigmatises a remarkable share of any city population in Sub-Saharan Africa.The basis for classifying ‘slums’ or ‘informal’ is underpinned by a public health and safety agenda - but in the absence of government support for adequate improvement of service provision in these informal settlements (even more if well located) they become ripe for ‘re-development’, which is then generally private sector driven. The outcome is usually negative for the poor and lower income populations that are pushed out or unable to capitalise on the rising property values. This paper draws on in-depth studies of the peri-urban settlements of Maputo and demonstrates that the ‘informal’ process is producing self-improving urban form and housing. The paper refers to a concrete current project (Maxaquene A) that initially was aimed at upgrading informal settlements with infrastructure improvements and land reorganisation accepting the right of the existing settlers. However the political reality has proven to take a different stand allowing the private sector a prominent role in the process meaning that a comprehensive redevelopment project now has been brought forward however with substantial local resistance and so far this project is at hold. This paper argues fundamentally for a formal recognition of these areas as a valid and productive form of urbanism in transformation and hence recognise land rights as the basis for stimulating further improvement. The ‘disorder’ such areas seem to represent is in fact underpinned by social order and the paper evidences this in describing the living conditions and the relationship with the emerging form of social architecture. In this it refers to the spatial organisation of space in the individual household, including plot organisation and house interior, the building technology applied and the architectural expression that these structures represent. The paper argues that this is people driven urban development with limited assistance if any from the state is an alternative modernity to be celebrated and assisted and not seen as aberrant and especially in the name of an out-dated modernity increasingly queried in its place of origin.

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