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Characteristics of a Sustainable City
- As seen by ENDA, in Senegal

  In Africa, the issue of sustainable development concerns not only the state natural resources and their management but also the issues of equitable development and the fight against poverty. It also includes questions around public participation and citizenship.

Sustainable urban development can be broadly understood in the above manner but needs to be addressed more specifically. The rate of growth of African cities is amongst the most rapid in the world. The concentration of African populations in cities is as much as 60% of the total population in many countries. At independence, the rate of urbanization was relatively weak. However the different economic crises undergone by the majority of countries since then has forced rural populations to migrate to urban centers which offer neither economic opportunities nor a good standard of living.

The development of African cities today raises issues which relate to employment, especially for the youth, urban planning, urban management, social services (health, education, transportation, energy, and culture), infrastructure, food security, public participation as well as the issues of violence, urban poverty and pollution.

In the last thirty years, urban development policy for African cities has often tried to mimic models of current European urban development policies. These include infrastructural policy, housing, health, and administrative organisation, which have been based on those of European cities. These policies are often expensive for local governments to implement, result in the construction of unmanageable human settlements and the maginalisation of large parts of the urban population.

This mimicking of European urban models and policies explains, in part, why urban policy makers in Africa, continue to have a negative attitude towards the urban informal sector. This part of the economy is sometimes responsible for up to 60% of the GDP for African countries. The informal sector employs a large proportion of urban workers and provides goods and services at affordable rates for a population with limited purchasing power. It has always been considered that the informal economic sector is illegal and that it should be replaced by a more 'formal' economy. Thus the actors within the informal economy are constantly being advised to conform to the rules and regulations of the said 'formal' economy. However this last is in crisis and finds itself incapable of providing the necessary goods, services and employment demanded by the population especially the youth.



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