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Improving Urban Planning in Africa

An interview with Nancy Odendaal, project coordinator of the Association of African Planning Schools
relates to Improving Urban Planning in Africa

Urbanization is growing at an incredible pace in the global south, but urban planning isn't keeping up. Many planning schools in Africa still promote ideas transferred from the global north. (The master plan of Lusaka, in Zambia, for instance, was based on the concept of the garden city.) As a result, these programs often fail to prepare planners for the problems they will encounter in African cities, such as rapid growth, poverty, and informality — that is, people who pursue livelihoods outside formal employment opportunities.

In 2008 the Association of African Planning Schools, a network of 43 institutions that train urban planners, began a three-year effort to reform planning education on the continent. Nancy Odendaal, project coordinator for A.A.P.S. and a planning professor at the University of Cape Town, in South Africa, offers a progress report on this effort in an upcoming issue of the journal Cities. "In order to confront the urbanisation pressures on the continent in all its unique dimensions," she writes, "fundamental shifts are needed in the materials covered in urban training programs and in the methods used to prepare practitioners."