From Eradication To Intervention: Urban Informal Ecosystem

From Eradication To Intervention: Urban Informal Ecosystem
Shannon Royden-Turner
University of Cape Town
The purpose of this paper is to explore the potential for sustainable urban development within the African context.

Framing the problem:
Understanding urban development within the African context requires foremost that we understand the driving forces that continue to create patterns of inequality in the way people in the urban context are afforded opportunity and access to resources.

This problem is framed by exploring the impact of globalisation and neoliberalism on urban development and how this has reduced the ability for governments to achieve infrastructure networks that address the needs all urban dwellers equally. In the South African context, this has resulted in a new wave of protests, typically referred to as service delivery protests. These protests called for more than just the delivery of physical infrastructure such as houses, water and sanitation. In many instances these are calls for accountability and participatory governance from people who are fighting against corruption. However, there remains an underlying frustration for poor urban communities related inequality urban resources, exemplified by the slow delivery of housing.

Grappling with the housing backlog numbers this research seeks to describe the ‘housing delusion', pointing to the amount of time and rate of delivery required to address the current and escalating backlog. Sustainable development and issues associated with our current Cartesian paradigm are considered within a systems framework and the need to consider the interconnectedness of all things. The issues of unsustainable development are further expanded, by framing concepts of urban ecology and broken cycles related to infrastructure and the poor within the urban context. The problem of social and economic exclusion experienced by a high number of unemployed urban residents who face jobless futures with little prospect of moving out of poverty and informality is described, making important links to infrastructure delivery, particularly housing, and job creation. Describing notions of embedded power within urban development is used to help contextualise the uneven access to resources and infrastructure in the African city, making links back to globalisation and pressure on governments to provide economic infrastructure.
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