A view towards town, Kigali, Rwanda

Fissures in Localizing Urban Sustainability: the Case of Rwanda

Reference: Malonza, J.M., Ortega, A.A. Fissures in localizing urban sustainability: the case of Rwanda. GeoJournal (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10708-020-10239-8

Abstract: Heralded as a paragon of sustainability in Africa, Rwanda’s development programs and plans have been attuned to global narratives of sustainability, particularly the SDGs. However, the country’s effort and dedication to localizing sustainability is faced with several challenges, which may result to critical ruptures to program implementation and efficacy.

Rwanda, being the most rapidly urbanizing country in Africa coupled by its political will to attain sustainable urbanization makes it a good case study for this research. Due to the accelerating urbanization, Kigali city, as the trendsetter for Rwanda’s economy and a driver for environmental sustainability, has also increasingly become an important agent of change.

Focusing on the domestication of urban sustainability in Kigali, this paper identifies fissures in localizing sustainability particularly in the development of the 2013 Kigali city Masterplan. These fissures stem from the (1) ‘‘international’’ production of a city Master-plan, (2) spatial mismatch of designs, and (3) top-down approach in conceptualizing sustainability.

Towards the end of the paper, we offer some ameliorative insights that advocate for a bottom-up approach that not only engages with communities but also co-produces community and city plans with marginalized groups. We argue that cultivating grounded practices and indigenous knowledge on sustainability will bridge the gap between city plans and community visions.


High density housing in an informal settlement, Kigali, Rwanda. Credit: Ya Ping Wang, University of Glasgow

The Road to Sustainable Kigali: A Contextualized Analysis of the Challenges

Reference: Baffoe G, Ahmad S, Bhandari R. The road to sustainable Kigali: A contextualized analysis of the challenges. Cities. 2020;105:102838. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cities.2020.102838

Abstract: Rwanda, despite being a predominantly rural country, has remarkably performed in the post-conflict (late 1990s) period on the socio-economic fronts. Contemporary challenges in Rwanda’s capital city, Kigali, are widespread informality, both in the economy and urban built environment. Informality significantly hinders human health and wellbeing attainment.

This paper assesses the development trajectory of Kigali with reference to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using mixed research methods, including field visit. In doing so, the study dwells on three theories; postcolonial urbanism, post-conflict state building and neoliberalism.

The paper diagnoses informality, polarized health sector and governance, as critical limitations to the attainment of sustainable development in Kigali. It argues that urban development in post-conflict Kigali is deeply rooted in capitalist and neoliberal ideology, where the state functions as the architect and facilitator of wealth accumulation for the few elites.

Based on the analyses of the current development patterns, inclusive governance is identified as a key intervention to achieve sustainable development in Kigali.


View of Dodoma city, Tanzania. Credit: Ifakara Health Institute.

Webinar with UN-Habitat: Urban-Rural Linkages in the Time of COVID-19 - Neighbourhood Governance and Community Response

Webinar with UN-Habitat: Urban-Rural Linkages in the Time of COVID-19 - Neighbourhood Governance and Community Response

The fifth session of this webinar series, Urban-Rural Linkages in the time of COVID-19: Urban Neighbourhood Governance and Community Response, jointly organised by UN-Habitat’s Urban-Rural Linkages project and the GCRF Centre for Sustainable Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC), explored how a local response at the neighbourhood level can help cities in developing countries respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

View full concept note.

SPEAKERS: 

  • Remy Sietchiping (CHAIR), Head of Policy, Legislation, and Governance Section, UN-Habitat
  • Maria Teresa Nogales, Founder & Executive Director at Alternativas Foundation
  • Mario Delos-Reyes, University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning (UP SURP), President & CEO Centre for Neighbourhood Studies (CeNS) and Co-Investigator SHLC
  • Erika Salem, Programme Officer, Montréal – Métropole en santé
  • Francis Levira, Ifakara Health Institute and Co-Investigator SHLC

 OBJECTIVES:

  • Learn more about the adaptation and innovation of neighbourhood governance structures in the face of COVID-19
  • Develop a deep understanding of concrete interventions by different neighbourhood governance configurations to manage urban-rural flows of people, resources, and capital during the pandemic.
  • Discuss the contribution of urban-rural linkages and integrated territorial approaches to handle the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and post-crisis recovery in neighbourhoods.


Urban slum, Delhi, India. Credit: Sistak, Flickr

Webinar with UN-Habitat: Urban-Rural Linkages in the Time of COVID-19 - Impact on the Urban Poor and Slum Dwellers in Asia and Africa

Webinar with UN-Habitat: Urban-Rural Linkages in the Time of COVID-19 - Impact on the Urban Poor and Slum Dwellers in Asia and Africa

The fourth session of this webinar series, Urban-Rural Linkages in the time of COVID-19: Impact on the urban poor and slum dwellers in Asia and Africa, jointly organised by UN-Habitat with the GCRF Centre for Sustainable Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC), examined the impacts of COVID-19 on the urban poor and slum dwellers through the lens of urban-rural linkages in African and Asian cities.

View full concept note.

Watch video recording and download presentations via links below.

AGENDA AND SPEAKERS:

  • Welcome and Introduction
  • Opening remarks – Dr Shipra Narang, Chief, Urban Practices Branch, UN-Habitat
  • Joseph Muturi, Slum Dwellers International
  • Professor David Everatt, School of Governance University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, Chairperson South African Statistics Council and Co-Investigator SHLC
  • Professor Debolina Kundu, National Institute of Urban Affairs (India), and Co-Investigator SHLC
  • Kerstin Sommer, Participatory Slum Upgrading Programme, UN-Habitat
  • Moderated discussion and Q&A
  • Takeaway and insights
  • Vote of thanks

OBJECTIVES:

  • Develop a deeper understanding on the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on slum dwellers and the urban poor.
  • Discuss the contributions of urban-rural linkages and integrated territorial approaches to address the needs of slum dwellers and the urban poor in the face of COVID-19.

GUIDING QUESTIONS:

  • What are the territorial characteristics of slums in the city?
  • To what extent are the COVID-19 response measures enforced in slums?
  • What is the impact of COVID-19 on slum dwellers and what are their coping mechanism?
  • How are the impacts of COVID-19 on slum dwellers related to urban-rural flows of people, food, water, resources? How are communities in slum areas handling these links to face the crisis?
  • What actions can be taken by government and other actors to address the different needs of slums dwellers while strengthening urban-rural linkages in the face of COVID-19?
  • What capacities and institutions should be strengthened to take these actions?

BACKGROUND:

The COVID-19 pandemic has serious impacts for people all over the world. These impacts are differentiated by social, economic and spatial inequalities, which pose distinctive challenges for slum dwellers and the urban poor. This demands special attention from governments at all levels, international organisations, local institutions, and academic and civil society actors.

SHLC researchers based at the National Institute of Urban Affairs of India, together with World Vision India, will share insights from a recent telephone survey exploring COVID-19 impact on slum dwellers and the urban poor in Indian cities. Researchers from the SHLC team based in South Africa will share insights about the current situation in Johannesburg.

UN-Habitat started a process beginning in 2015 that culminated in 2019 with numerous stakeholders agreeing the Urban-Rural Linkages: Guiding Principles and Framework for Action to Advance Integrated Territorial Development (URL-GP). The ten guiding principles seek to orientate the actions of different actors to reduce spatial inequalities and unequal access to resources and services across the urban-rural continuum. It is both important to understand and recognise the needs of slum dwellers and discuss the contribution of urban-rural perspectives so that no one in these communities is left behind.


Outside water tap in Madanpur Khadar Resettlement Colony, Delhi, India. Credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow

The ‘Luxury’ of Home Quarantine

Reflecting on Indian cities’ response to COVID-19, exclusive access to basic amenities and hygiene practices highly correlate with affordability, says Prof Debolina Kundu and Biswajit Kar. This article was originally published by Telangana Today. The views in this article are those of the author and not attributable to SHLC.

India is under a public health emergency, with hotspots of the pandemic highly localised in certain cities, although it has impacted the life of all citizens across the country and livelihood of the informal sector. With those infected crossing the one-lakh-mark, Covid-19 really throws an insurmountable challenge before the country where health facilities are not geared to deal with it.

The slums in most cities have become hotbeds of the pandemic due to congestion, overcrowding, lack of proper sanitation and water supply. On the contrary, home quarantine, social distancing and regular handwashing have been highly recommended to prevent the spread of infection. Since the virus is contagious, use of separate toilets and bathrooms is recommended along with frequent handwashing with soap.

Larger picture

The pandemic has brought to the forefront the challenges urban India is facing with regard to home quarantine and social distancing given the dearth of adequate housing and basic amenities, with over 17% of the population living in slums. Given this scenario, it is important to analyse what percentage of households have a separate room, exclusive access to toilet and handwashing facilities to arrange complete isolation of patients.

The 2011 Census data shows that the problem of adequate housing is severe in metropolitan cities and slums, where 37.6% and 57% of the households reside in just one room respectively. Greater Mumbai, where the share of population living in slums is around 50%, has 64.7% of the households living in just one room. Highly dense slums make the practice of social distancing challenging.

Basic amenities

Exclusive access to basic amenities is not uniform across urban India. The recent round of the National Sample Survey on Drinking Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Housing Condition in India, 2018, shows that a quarter of the urban population do not have exclusive access to bathroom and toilet facilities whereas only 57.5% households have exclusive access to a principal source of drinking water. These figures corroborate the fact that social distancing and handwashing are limited to affluent households, who are privileged to have exclusive access to basic amenities.

In contrast, poor households are constrained by poor availability of basic amenities. Lack of exclusive access to basic amenities poses further challenge. Also, half of the slum households have water supply outside premises, and a quarter depend on community toilets (Census 2011). The figures worsen in non-notified slums where about 70% of the households do not have exclusive access to drinking water.

Therefore, the risk of spread of the virus is high in such localities as is seen in Dharavi and slum clusters in other cities. The situation with regard to hygiene is really grim in slums where almost 60% of the households have basic amenities outside their premises or need to share the facilities with other households.

"The situation with regard to hygiene is really grim in slums where almost 60% of the households have basic amenities outside their premises or need to share the facilities with other households."
Outside water tap in Madanpur Khadar Resettlement Colony, Delhi, India. Credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow
Outside water tap in Madanpur Khadar Resettlement Colony, Delhi, India. Credit: Gail Wilson, University of Glasgow

Handwashing without water

Only 56% of urban households wash hands with water and soap/detergent before meals. The figure drops to about 40% in slums. The availability of soap and water in latrines is around 60% in slums. Importantly, over 20% of slum-dwellers do not practise handwashing after defecation substituting their handwashing with ash/mud/sand.

In million-plus cities, the better off localities report the highest share of households who wash hands with soap before a meal. These households also report higher access to exclusive services as compared with non-metro cities. In India, exclusive access to basic amenities and hygiene practices are highly correlated with affordability, the inequality rising with regard to exclusive access to bathrooms and latrines.

Only about 40% of poor households go for handwashing with water and soap/detergent before meals. The Scheduled Tribes and Castes households face higher deprivation with regard to exclusive access to basic amenities, which limits their hygiene practices.

Differently-abled

Possibly, the most ‘unheard’ section of society in the time of pandemic is the differently-abled population. Eight million differently-abled people reside in urban India with Urban Maharashtra reporting the highest share (Census 2011).

The pandemic has been most widespread in this State. Accessing basic amenities and maintaining minimum hygiene remain a challenge for these people, especially those living in slums.

Serious Challenges

Extreme congestion in low-income informal settlements stands in the way of home quarantine of suspected Covid-19 patients, especially in cities where government facilities for the same are not available. Coupled with this, lack of access to exclusive basic amenities compels households to share services. Also, lack of the habit of handwashing before and after meals and defecation are important challenges that need to be addressed if the guidelines of home quarantine, social distancing and regular hand washing need to be adhered to by the poor, in case of infection.

The challenge is serious in non-notified slums and squatters where coverage of services is still poor and households need to queue up for water or use community toilets or defecate in the open. Patients from such poor households living in slums while sharing basic amenities with other households, run the risk of community transmission. Provision of minimum standard of living with adequate living space and exclusive access to basic amenities is the sine qua non to addressing the pandemic, which currently seems a distant dream.

"Provision of minimum standard of living with adequate living space and exclusive access to basic amenities is the sine qua non to addressing the pandemic, which currently seems a distant dream."

Students prepare data sheets from their field data sheets under the supervision of Nafisa Anjum, Research Associate. Credit: SHLC-BD

Training Neighbourhood Sustainability Champions at Khulna University

In this blog, our team in Bangladesh reflects on how they are utilising the collaborative design of our international urban research project to help train early career researchers and future urban planners with the skills they need to understand and support sustainable neighbourhoods.

As part of our research activities for the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities and Neighbourhoods (SHLC), we were tasked with understanding sustainability at the neighbourhood level in Dhaka and Khulna. During the theoretical and conceptual development for this research task, the Bangladesh team realised that conducting a sustainability audit of neighbourhoods is seldom practised in Bangladesh. When we spoke to expert academics we noticed that attempts to apply a holistic spatial approach for neighbourhood auditing have been limited.

So, we decided to work closely with future planners and early career academics to transfer skills for sustainability auditing at the neighbourhood level, co-understand the critical issues regarding sustainability in Bangladeshi neighbourhoods and create ‘neighbourhood sustainability champions’ for the promotion of neighbourhood sustainability thinking for future urban planning research and practice.

More than 40 undergraduate students and two faculty members of the Urban and Rural planning Discipline at Khulna University took part in our training activities. Participants were involved in our neighbourhood fieldwork and data entry and played a major role in conducting the Neighbourhood Sustainability Audit (NSA). Students now have new theortical knowledge of sustainable neighbourhoods and firsthand practical experience in applying innovative tools to conduct a neighbourhod sustainability audit.

Briefing session on neighbourhood sustainability at Khulna University. Credit: SHLC-BD
Briefing session on neighbourhood sustainability at Khulna University. Credit: SHLC-BD

Training in action: lets get to work

As a first step, students and teachers were introduced to the concept of a sustainable neighbourhood during lectures and practical studio work as part of their course on ‘Urban Development Planning’. After introductory lectures, students were then asked to develop their own conceptual framework to conduct a neighbourhood sustainability audit.

Students got the chance to compare their ideas with the wider SHLC tools and during a participatory workshop, they helped co-develop tools that can fit the local Bangladeshi context whilst also capturing international perspectives of neighbourhood sustainability.

Dr. Shilpi Roy and Professor Tanjil Sowgat brief Khulna University students on neighbourhood sustainability audit. Credit: SHLC-BD
Dr. Shilpi Roy and Professor Tanjil Sowgat brief Khulna University students on neighbourhood sustainability audit. Credit: SHLC-BD

Students then got the chance to apply the tools in the field. Over an intensive 23 days of fieldwork o they researched 14 neighbourhoods in Dhaka and Khulna using a variety of sustainability tools such as, neighbourhood history, housing,  land use pattern,  and location of key recreation facilities, analysis of roads, drains and footpaths. SHLC’s urban research team in Bangladesh supported and supervised the students to help share knowledge and solve problems.

Khulna University students interviewing an urban resident. Credit: SHLC-BD
Khulna University students interviewing an urban resident. Credit: SHLC-BD

Once the raw data were gathered, they learned how to prepare fresh data sheets to support the data entry process, which was used to underpin spatial data analysis using tools like SPSS, ArcGIS, R and Stata.

Students prepare data sheets from their field data sheets under the supervision of Nafisa Anjum, Research Associate. Credit: SHLC-BD
Students prepare data sheets from their field data sheets under the supervision of Nafisa Anjum, Research Associate. Credit: SHLC-BD

Putting lessons into practice

These training activities engaged 40 students as well as 800 people from 17 communities in Dhaka and Khulna. Professor Tanjil Sowgat, In-Country CO-Investigator for  the SHLC team in Bangladesh said:

 ‘‘Through active engagement and learning, this training has promoted new thinking around creating sustainable neighbourhoods and applying tools, like the neighbourhood sustainability audit,  among students studying our Urban and Rural Planning discipline.’’

Students engaged in the event said that they benefited profoundly from this practical training and the experience created an amazing learning opportunity for them. Rabeya Sultana Oishi, a student, added:

 ‘‘I have learnt a lot from this engagement. I am now more aware of the key issues around the sustainability of our neighbourhoods and intend to do further research in the coming days.’’

Three students already decided to conduct their final year thesis on neighbourhood sustainability and many more showed interest in focusing their future studies on ‘neighbourhood planning’. Paula, who just has started her dissertation, stated:

‘‘Diversity and isolation are two interesting players in neighbourhood sustainability. I realised these issues while conducting the interviews during SHLC fieldwork. I want to do my thesis on this and want to contribute to the future knowledge’’.

Students at Khulna University prepare data sheets for GIS analysis. Credit: SHLC-BD
Students at Khulna University prepare data sheets for GIS analysis. Credit: SHLC-BD

Field surveys helped students understand a new and innovative tool in understanding the neighbourhoods, and they intend to use this knowledge in future. Abdullah Haque Abir said:

‘‘It was a once in a lifetime experience for me. From this event, I learnt about different tools and their application for assessing the sustainability of a neighbourhood. This project also taught time management and how to co-produce work through joint efforts.”

Jobaer Ahmed added:

“SHLC has provided an opportunity to have professional experience before our graduation. It helped to develop communication skills, filed work management skills and teamwork”.  

Building skills for our urban leaders of the future

Practical training achieved two outcomes: ensuring efficient data collection for the wider SHLC urban research project whilst also building capacity of the students and faculty members through fieldwork experience and sharing of knowledge.

Dr. Shilpi Roy, Co-Investigator for the SHLC project in Bangladesh said:

‘‘We initially wanted to hire professional surveyors for the Neighbourhood Sustainability Audit, Then, we thought that we could instead transfer our knowledge and skill to our students and teachers by engaging them in our fieldwork.  They are now inspired, motivated and committed to the delivery of sustainable communities as the future planners’’.

Shilpi’s comment was echoed by many students. Samiul Islam said:

“Working with such intelligent and exemplary leaders, coordinators, and group mates in such an international project was a great experience. Thanks to Team-SHLC-Bangladesh for introducing us to the new tools and techniques for sustainability assessment.”

For more information, watch this photomontage of the event via Youtube.


The Company’s Garden, Cape Town. Credit: Zubeida Lowton, University of Glasgow

A Tale of Two Cities: Socio-Spatial Transformations of Post-Apartheid South African Cities – Part 2, Cape Town

In the second installment of this photo essay, Zubeida Lowton investigates what the city of Cape Town has done to spatially transform the city following the fall of apartheid. Zubeida is a PhD candidate in the Department of Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow. Her doctoral research investigates the everyday experiences of people using public spaces in Johannesburg and Cape Town. The views in this article are those of the author and not attributable to SHLC.

Walking the city centre streets of Cape Town

Cape Town, a popular destination for European travellers, was established by the Dutch East India Company in 1652 as a trade route. Similar to Johannesburg, Cape Town suffered under the apartheid policy and saw a decline of its manufacturing sector, specifically clothing and textiles. Multiple attempts were made to revitalise the city centre, but it was the City Centre Improvement District that transformed the city and brought people and businesses back into the centre. A large part of the success has been marketing the city as a top tourist destination that is safe to visit by all.

Greenmarket Square, The Company’s Garden and St George’s Mall are public spaces in the middle of the city, which benefited from the revitalisation of surrounding areas. The re-development of these areas can be traced back to the early development of the city, which was very much influenced by the early Dutch and English settlers.

Actively used public space with police presence, Greenmarket Square, Cape Town. Credit: Zubeida Lowton, University of Glasgow
Actively used public space with police presence, Greenmarket Square, Cape Town. Credit: Zubeida Lowton, University of Glasgow

Make way for the arts

Actively used public space with police presence, Greenmarket Square, Cape Town. Credit: Zubeida Lowton, University of Glasgow

Before slavery was abolished, Greenmarket Square was used to trade slaves and during apartheid, it later became the location for many freedom protests. Walking around Greenmarket Square today it is now a popular arts and crafts market attracting street performers and visitors from all over the world. This is a complete transformation of the social use of the space that now is the space that provides a livelihood for people that were once oppressed. Not only is this a better use of the space but it also encourages cultural and social mixing of socio-economic groups that may otherwise not interact. The square is surrounded by eateries, businesses, a banking institution and is the starting point for City Sightseeing walking tours. While walking through the square, I noticed many police and security patrolling the area.

Public Park with controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes. The Company’s Garden, Cape Town. Credit: Zubeida Lowton, University of Glasgow
Public Park with controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes. The Company’s Garden, Cape Town. Credit: Zubeida Lowton, University of Glasgow

Tending to the garden

A 10-minute walk from Greenmarket Square is The Company’s Garden, which was established by the Dutch East India Company as a public park and a public vegetable garden and today the café still maintains and uses food from the vegetable garden. Walking around the park it is clear that the park is monitored and has strict controlled access which limits unauthorised use like informal trading. A statue of Cecil Rhodes, a controversial figure because of his role in implementing segregation policies, remains in the Garden. The park is a space used every day for people to relax take a step back from the busy city. This public space has been transformed in such a way so that reminders of segregation and the embrace of democracy can coexist. The park is more about the accessibility and use of green space rather than protesting controversial figures.

Formal and informal trade, St George’s Mall, Cape Town. Credit: Zubeida Lowton, University of Glasgow
Formal and informal trade, St George’s Mall, Cape Town. Credit: Zubeida Lowton, University of Glasgow

Shopping galore!

Clear signs of activities not permitted in the Square which conforms to the neat organisation of formal and informal trade, St George’s Mall, Cape Town. Credit: Zubeida Lowton, University of Glasgow

St George’s Mall is within walking distance from the other two public spaces and is another arts and crafts market where you will find lots of street vendors up and down a long pedestrianised street and companies offering free Cape Town walking tours. Squares for street vendors are clearly marked and is a clear indication that the space is very much still controlled to allow informal traders to fit within a neat and planned public space. Along this strip are hotels, businesses, shops and eateries. St George’s Mall is a popular destination for shoppers looking for jewellery and sees lots of visitors because it is close to St George’s Cathedral, one of the oldest cathedrals in Cape Town.

Encouraging mixed-space use to overcome apartheid’s socio-spatial legacy

A country with such a divided history should aim to be more inclusive. Instead, Johannesburg and Cape Town city centres target middle and higher-income groups, excluding a large proportion of their population. While the aim to bring people into the city centre has been achieved to some extent, from my perspective, there are limited free attractions such as festivals or parades encouraging people to socialise in the city centre on public holidays and weekdays. Less focus should be on commercialising cities through improved imaging, and more on developing inclusive spaces that encourage genuine social mixing to overcome the segregated legacy of public spaces.


Disarray of urban functions in Joydebpur. © 2020 SHLC Bangladesh

Sustainable Neighbourhood Development in Emerging Economies: A Review

This study reviews the literature on sustainable development focusing at the neighbourhood level, including relevant assessment frameworks and indicators, with emphasis on the emerging economies.

The review briefly comments on the influence of built-environment characteristics on sustainable outcomes. In comparison to advanced economies, neighbourhoods of emerging economies are understudied. Existing studies focus at the city level with an emphasis on environmental sustainability. Given different development trajectories, results from the advanced economies cannot be applied without appropriate calibration.

There is, therefore, a need for further study to provide evidence-based interventions for sustainable urban neighbourhood development in consideration of multiple dimensions.


Dusk approaches at Rupsa Bridge, Khulna, Bangladesh. Credit: Irfan Shakil and Tanjil Sowgat, Khulna University

A Review of Urban Neighbourhood Scholarship

Although some scholars remain sceptical about its relevance due to its contested and porous nature, evidence across the globe shows that social processes, such as immigration, lifestyle, crime, unemployment and housing quality are best studied and understood at the neighbourhood level.

This report reviews how the concept has been constructed and how it emerged as a research unit. It considers the issues of neighbourhood effects and change, approaches to the study of neighbourhoods, as well as the importance and challenges of neighbourhood research.

The review reveals that the concept is hotly contested and negotiated, hence it defies singular definition. The focus of scholarship, in general, is skewed, particularly towards neighbourhood effects and neighbourhood change. In the global south, especially in Africa and Asia, the focus is somewhat different; satisfaction and wellbeing, redevelopment, health and social capital are dominant.

Neighbourhood scholarship has also witnessed significant advances in methodological approaches. The challenge, however, has been application of mixed methods. Only a few such studies have attempted, suggesting room for improvement, and the need for future research to think creatively about how to effectively blend the quantitative and qualitative methods in gathering and analysing neighbourhood level data.

A major concern that the review identified is that less attention that has been given to many critical areas, such as neighbourhood education, health, livelihood, adaptation, security, and built environment. These areas are under-studied at the neighbourhood level, especially in developing countries. The review recommends more empirical examination of these issues.


Students in Primary Seven at Zanaki Primary School, Tanzania. Credit: Sarah Farhat / World Bank

Education Policies, Systems, and Progress in Africa and Asia: A Comparative Analysis

This report offers a comparative analysis of education systems, policies, inputs, and outcomes in six partner countries of the Centre for Sustainable, Healthy and Learning Cities (SHLC). They include Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, and Tanzania.

Data was collected from reports on national and urban policies prepared by each partner for their respective cities and countries and supplemented, where necessary, with information from global databases and other secondary sources.

The analysis shows that the current education situation in SHLC case study countries reinforces the existing disparities across groups in urban areas and creates new barriers and gaps as learners in more affluent neighbourhoods have sustained access to better opportunities for socio-economic advancement whereas public schools may limit such opportunities and keep people trapped in a cycle of poverty.

Following the introduction:

  • Section 2 provides an overview of historical legacies that shaped SHLC case study countries’ development trajectory and education as well as the shifts in education over time.
  • Section 3 outlines the structure of the national education systems in the six countries the study focuses on and the institutions that govern education in these countries.
  • Section 4 presents key laws, policies, and regulations the countries have in place to guide the provision and quality of formal education.
  • Section 5 examines the financing of and resource allocation for education.
  • Section 6 discusses the availability of various learning opportunities to different groups of learners, including access to educational institutions and alternative programmes and retention/dropout rates.
  • Section 7 explores the quality of education and related services critical for educational provision available in each partner country.
  • Section 8 compares education outcomes by exploring five general trends that emerge from the national reports: improved enrolment, higher completion rates, improved literacy, greater gender equity, and improved student to teacher ratios.
  • Section 9 offers highlights of the comparative findings.
  • The final section offers potential avenues for further research.