Activity: Other activity types › Media coverage or participation
Popular accounts of life in African cities typically portray a Dickensian squalor in the tropics: unkempt masses struggling with poverty, disease and violence. While such accounts overlook the dynamic nature of African cities and the resilience of their residents, they do reflect an important truth. Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of ‘slum incidence’ of any major world region, with over 60% of the region’s urban population—roughly 200 million people—living in settlements characterized by some combination of overcrowding, tenuous dwelling structures, and deficient access to adequate water and sanitation facilities. However, there is wide variation in slum incidence across countries within the region (see Table 1). Why do so many Africans live in slums, and what accounts for the wide variation in slum incidence across countries in the region? I address these questions in a recently published working paper.