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Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone

As African cities grow, learn how development and planning help urban actors to make cities just and sustainable for all.

4,877 enrolled on this course

Development and Planning in African Cities: Exploring theories, policies and practices from Sierra Leone
  • Duration4 weeks
  • Weekly study3 hours

In the next 35 years, Africa will need to accommodate almost 900 million new urban dwellers. Hundreds of smaller cities are doubling in size every 20 years, half of Africa’s urban dwellers live in informal settlements in precarious conditions, and 75% of these are younger than 35.

Our course will explore African cities through the lenses of spatial justice and social diversity, challenging myths and assumptions about urban development and demonstrating how different processes interact and shape the development of a city.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds Are you prepared to overcome these challenges and make the most of the opportunities of Africa’s growing cities?

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds This course will challenge existing myths and assumptions about open development and planning.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 seconds You will explore tensions between regional theories and the complexities of the city of Freetown. Through a mix of videos, readings, case studies, maps, and interaction with fellow participants and tutors, you will learn how cities are made and work. On this course, you will travel into the heart of Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. You will learn from some of the world’s leading experts about how informality, governance, participatory planning, risk, and infrastructures shape the urban development of African cities.

What topics will you cover?

Week 1: Introduction to development and planning in African cities

  • What is development? What is planning?
  • Normative crosscutting lenses: spatial justice and social diversity
  • Urban change and the evolution of planning

Week 2: Urban land & informalities

  • Diversity of meanings, values and functions of urban land
  • Formal and informal urban land markets and tenure systems
  • What are urban informalities? Economic and spatial dimensions of informality

Week 3: Governance & planning

  • Devolution of powers and fiscal autonomy
  • Scales: city-level, metropolitan, regional
  • Participatory planning (planning from below)

Week 4: Urban risk, vulnerabilities & infrastructure

  • Understanding urban risk and coping/adaptation strategies
  • Urban health
  • Co-production of urban infrastructures.

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

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What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Understand how different processes interact and shape the urban development of a city
  • Demonstrate an understanding of some key development and planning issues in African cities through a justice and spatial lenses
  • Reflect upon the tensions between wider urban theories and regional processes on one hand, and the specificity of urban contexts on the other
  • Explain the specific and different roles and challenges of each urban actor in urban planning and development processes
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the urban challenges faced by Freetown and their potential solutions

Who is the course for?

The course is open to people from any disciplinary background with a desire to learn about urban development and planning in African cities and potentially to those who would like to pursue a career in urban development or planning.

It is suitable for urban professionals who work or may in future want to work in Sub-Saharan Africa and would like to gain an understanding of how its cities are made and developed.

Who will you learn with?

working on inequalities, diversity and cities in global South. Based at Bartlett Development Planning Unit, University College London. Founder of Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre. T: @rigonandre

Joseph M Macarthy is an urban research expert and a well-established scholar in urban planning and management. He is the Executive director of SLURC and lectures at Njala University.

Who developed the course?

UCL (University College London)

UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, and the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it.

Sierra Leone Urban Research Centre

SLURC aims to build the capacity of urban stakeholders in Sierra Leone, making urban knowledge available and accessible to those who need it and delivering world leading research.

Njala University

Njala University is a rural comprehensive public research university in Sierra Leone. It is committed to providing the highest standards of excellence in higher education in Sierra Leone and beyond.

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