Slums are a curse and blessing in fast urbanising Africa. They have challenged Africa's progress towards better living and working spaces but they also provide shelter for the swelling populations seeking a life in cities.
Rural Africans are pouring into towns and cities in search of jobs and other opportunities, but African cities – 25 of which are among the 100 fastest growing cities in the world – are not delivering the much needed support services, including housing, at the same rate as people are demanding them.
The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) projects that nearly 1.3 billion people – more than the current population of China – will be living in cities in Africa in the next 15 years.
Africa's urbanisation rate of four percent a year is already over-stretching the capacity of its cities to provide adequate shelter, water, sanitation, energy and even food for its growing population.
Safe and resilient cities and human settlements is one of the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be agreed on in New York next month. As the SDGs replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) launched in September 2000, UN-Habitat has largely succeeded in meeting the target of taking 100 million people out of slums by the time the MDGs expired in Asia, China and part of India … but not in Africa.
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