Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Peter Karl Kresl and Jaime Sobrino
Chapter 7: Doing research in African cities: the case study method
The urban challenge in Africa is undoubtedly more serious than in any other part of the world. Not only will rates of urban growth over the next several decades outstrip other regions of the global South, but Africa is the only continent where urban population and economic growth have not been mutually reinforcing, leading to a situation where an impoverished urban populace survives largely under conditions of informality. In many parts of the continent, these problems are accompanied by weak urban governance and a fractured civil society. Given these conditions, urban planning has been largely ineffective in dealing with urbanization pressures. Hence urban planners and managers in African cities confront the almost insurmountable task of addressing the critical social, economic and environmental problems that come with rapid urban growth. The capacity to implement new policies and programmes (in both resource and human terms) is very limited, however. One particularly important resource that is lacking in many African cities is urban data: this problem and an approach to addressing the issue is the subject of this chapter.
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