4: Self-building in contested spaces: livelihoods and productivity challenges of the urban poor in Africa

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The growth of informal settlements and lagging behind of economic productivity growth is indicative of the huge challenges of urban governance to address poverty and inequality. Based on a case study on urban food producer groups in the informal settlements of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, this chapter observes a shrinking of development spaces for the urban poor. Therefore, it argues for a more comprehensive approach to self-building by the urban poor to sustain their livelihoods in Africa’s cities and provide input into the sustenance of urban productivity. Instead of investing urban resources into economic activities that exclude and marginalize the poor, an inclusive approach would be more recognizant of their livelihoods. Strategic urban governance would address the plurality of actors, including the poor, and their livelihood potential and contributions to urban productivity and liveable cities.

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