The periphery revisited: Understanding local urban governance in the context of rapid urban expansion and weak state institutions in Kinshasa

Date: 17 June 2014

Venue: UAntwerp - Stadscampus - Building S - Promotiezaal - Lange Sint Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerp

Time: 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: IOB

PhD candidate: Inge Wagemakers

Principal investigator: Prof Filip Reyntjens

Short description: PhD defense Inge Wagemakers - Institute of Development Policy and Management (IOB)

Abstract: Over the last few decades Kinshasa has expanded enormously, both in terms of its surface area and in terms of its population. New (peri-)urban areas were created without any urban policy or planning, resulting in enormous squatter areas. Typically, in relatively new urban areas of rapidly growing cities there is a lack of public service delivery and a problematic access to necessary goods and services, due to weak or non-existent state services and weak local governments. However, alternative 'informal' ways of governing crucial goods and services emerge in these peri-urban areas.

Interestingly, in Kinshasa, characteristics that used to be ascribed to the peri-urban areas gradually become characteristic for the city as a whole (cf. encroaching informality, generalized poverty, ruralisation of the city). Informal and hybrid local governance structures emerge in the peri-urban areas, and influence urban life and urban governance of the entire city.

In order to discover and understand dynamics and logics behind these new forms of local urban governance, three case studies were conducted in peri-urban Kinshasa: one case study on local governance of land, one on local governance of primary education, and one on the interaction between local urban governance and a foreign aid programme.

Through the case studies everyday local urban governance around concrete goods or services was studied. The first two cases on land and education teach us a lot on hybrid governance, but their outcomes are very different. A distinction can be made between constructive and corrosive forms of hybrid local governance. The third case clearly shows how important it is to take these dynamics – whether constructive or destructive – seriously and take them into account for urban planning and policy.

This PhD argues for finally taking African cityness and everyday (hybrid) local urban governance seriously, as they will (co-)determine in the end how urban life is being organized and how urban governance functions.

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