Project Work

Click on the links below to read more about the past and current phases of project work undertaken by AAPS.

2008 to 2011

In 2008, the AAPS secured grant funding from the Rockefeller Foundation to pursue two related projects over a three-year period. The first, entitled ‘Revitalising planning education in Africa’, broadly sought to promote the review and revision of planning curricula on the continent. Key outputs of the project included:

The second project sought to enhance case study research capacity amongst African planning students and academics. The rationale was that case study research can produce empirical and contextualised accounts of African urbanization and planning processes that may challenge the outdated assumptions underpinning planning practices in many parts of the continent. Incorporating this knowledge into educational curricula and pedagogical delivery was an extension of this agenda. In 2010, AAPS hosted three workshops on case study research and teaching in East, Southern and West Africa. Major project outputs included a toolkit for case study research and teaching, as well as an edited volume on the case method as applied to planning research and teaching in Africa. This volume was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2014 with the title ‘Planning and the Case Study Method in Africa: The Planner in Dirty Shoes’.

2011 to 2014

With the first phase of donor-funded projects completed midway through 2011, AAPS secured further grant funding from the Rockefeller Foundation and Cities Alliance for a second round of project work. This second phase involvedthree project areas. The first concerned the implementation of the partnership established in November 2010 between AAPS and Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), a transnational network of local organizations of slum dwellers. In line with this agreement, AAPS and SDI jointly implemented a series of six month-long teaching studios at various African planning schools, to promote hands-on experiential learning of African urban issues and practical responses. These studios took place in Kampala (Uganda), Blantyre (Malawi), Mzuzu (Malawi), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Windhoek (Namibia) and Nairobi (Kenya). AAPS also sought to extend its institutional reach by forging a partnership with the transnational activist and worker organization Women in Informal Employment: Globalising and Organising (WIEGO). The intention was for the outputs of these institutional partnerships to provide a basis with which to lobby for progressive policy reform amongst African governments and development organizations.

The second area of project work was a continuation of efforts to ‘revitalise planning education in Africa’ through strengthening of the AAPS network and consolidating its agenda around curricular reform. As part of this agenda, the AAPS postgraduate curriculum frame was used to inform the development of a new postgraduate planning programme at the University of Zambia, with SDI involvement. In addition, an undergraduate curriculum frame was developed and used to inform the revision of Makerere University’s Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning programme.

The third area of AAPS work entailed efforts to promote urban and planning law reform in sub-Saharan Africa where, in many countries, unreformed, outdated or unimplemented laws are unable to respond to the many forces shaping contemporary urbanization. The first meeting of the ‘Platform for Urban Planning Law Reform in Sub-Saharan Africa’ was held at the Rockefeller Foundation Centre in Bellagio in July 2012, where a strategy for bringing about urban law reform on the continent was outlined in a communiqué. As an extension of this work, in 2013 Mr Stephen Berrisford secured funding from UN-Habitat and Cities Alliance to prepare a set of guidelines for African government officials and policymakers on how to initiate and implement changes in urban planning legislation. The resulting Urban Legal Guide will be launched in 2015.

Current projects

With funding from the Rockefeller Foundation coming to an end in 2014, AAPS has scaled back its project work. However, in 2015 funding has been secured from the Cities Alliance Catalytic Fund to enable four additional AAPS-SDI teaching studios to take place in Kitui (Kenya), Lusaka (Zambia), Gobabis (Namibia) and Kampala (Uganda). In this series of projects one of the primary objectives is to upscale community engagements and informal settlement upgrading initiatives to the city scale. This offers a major opportunity to contribute to future planning practice in Africa, as many urban upgrading and mobilization initiatives tend to remain localised in scale, and often fail to generate lasting impacts on urban management and planning. The intention is that these studios will help to catalyse news ways of thinking about and responding to urban informality in African cities.