This book is about the multitude of associations that has emerged in African cities in recent years. In many cases, they are a response to mounting poverty, failing infrastructure and services, and more generally, weak and abdicating urban governments. Some associations are new, in other cases existing organisations are taking on new tasks. Associations may be neighbourhood-based, others may be city-wide and based on professional groupings or share ideology or religion. Still others have an ethnic base.

After an introductory chapter on the urban crisis, governance and associational life, the contributions are grouped in five sections: (i) coping through informal networks; (ii) religion and identity; (iii) land and housing; (iv) services; and (v) emerging initiatives. Case studies are drawn from a diverse set of African countries, 16 altogether.

A central theme is how economic decline and the downgrading of the role of the state has led to an upsurge of civil society through urban associations and the strengthening of networks. Urban associations are engaged both in the day-to-day matters of urban management and long-term urban development, while informal networks form an important basis for coping with everyday life.

In this volume:

Recent CMI publications: