Chinese and African experts and thinkers on how urbanisation is affecting the poor came together in Nairobi, Kenya from 30 July to 1 August 2012 to share experiences and best practices. The workshop was organised by the Mazingira Institute, Development Workshop Angola and the Centre for African Studies at Peking University, and was supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Caroline Wanjiku-Kihato, Urban LandMark's Knowledge Promotion Theme Coordinator, participated in the event.
The idea to bring together urbanisation experts from China and Africa flows from interactions in Angola and China some two years ago. Both countries have urban growth rates that are among the highest in the world, yet Chinese academics, policy makers and urban development specialists are in general not familiar with the African environment. The workshop aimed to share experiences and best practices in pro-poor urban development in both China and Africa, focusing on Chinese involvement in African urbanisation, and to promote concrete and actionable ideas for pilot projects to enhance the pro-poor impact of Chinese investments in Africa.
The workshop started with a presentation by Allan Cain, Director of Development Workshop, detailing the organisation's method and experience of participatory mapping of urban poverty. This was followed by papers on four themes:
- China's involvement in African urban development
- Financing and social housing
- Urban land, services and infrastructure
- Participatory urban planning.
Participants were then organised into four groups with balanced membership from China and Africa, each charged with generating project ideas which could have a significant impact on alleviating poverty. Each idea had to be described in relation to its impact on poverty and how it would be measured, the partners or actors involved and how long it would take. The four groups then made a number of proposals on the way forward.
For full coverage of the event, see the October issue of the Mazingira Institute's Settlements Information Network Africa (SINA) newsletter.