Informal settlements – relations between residents and the state explored

Informal settlements are challenging in terms of urban planning. At what point does the state intervene in the development and management of the settlements? Moreover, what is the character of the relationship between the residents and the institutions of the state in the task to eliminate or improve the settlements?

Professor Mohammed Bello Yunusa, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Ahmadu Bello University, Nigeria has taken a closer look at these issues during his stay at NAI as one of its African guest researchers.

The title of his current research project is ‘Life Patterns and Livelihood Strategies of Households in Informal Settlements: A case study of Nassarawa ward in Kaduna urban area, Nigeria’. Before concluding his visit to Uppsala, Mohammed Bello Yunusa presented some of his latest research findings in a workshop.

The main objective of his study has been to uncover the rate of growth of informal settlements and their economic character and dynamics, such as the residents’ sources of income. Consequently, Mohammed Bello Yunusa has had to explore the policy options for the improvement of the settlements, employing both community and state resources.

Informal settlements have been the interest for extensive research. However, Mohammed Bello Yunusa argues that little attention has been given to studies of livelihood strategies and survival techniques. In particular, the extent and form of contact between the residents and the state in solving basic problems have not been in focus. Such studies could benefit poverty reduction policies as they would offer insights into the resentments of the poor and a critical analysis of the character of informal organizations.

Nassarawa is an example of a rural community that has been drawn into an expanding urban environment i.e. an engulfed settlement. This type of village urbanization poses severe challenges to urban planners where planning institutions are weak, lack the capacities and political power to perform its roles. The enforcement of physical development controls, laws and standards tend to collapse and this complicates problems of poverty. The characteristics of Nassarawa located in the outskirts of Kaduna are therefore that of a marginal, submerged and unintegrated settlement, argues Mohammed Bello Yunusa.

One of NAI’s important tasks is to establish and maintain relations with African research communities. The aim of the Guest Researchers’ Scholarship Programme is to provide opportunities for its participants to pursue their own research projects, strengthening the academic milieu in African countries, and promoting scholarly exchange with Nordic research communities. Read more about NAI’s scholarships.

East Africa
Mohammed Bello Yunusa
Urban planning
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