The current Covid 19 pandemic is likely to spread in the next few weeks and months to the South and in particular South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa. The impact may well be of a greater scale than that currently experienced in the North; India was the region with the highest loss of live in the 1918-1919 Spanish flu Pandemic. The experience and historical experience suggests that urban areas will be disproportionately affected.
Informal workers and desperate journeys
‘Corona lockdown’ led to one of the biggest migrations in India’s modern history. Hungry, thirsty and hapless- millions of migrant workers who form the backbone of our glittering megacities- took to the road, on desperate journeys home. These migrant workers are part of the informal economy- toiling away in construction sector and small factories, recycling waste or doing other precarious jobs. Many of them are landless or small/marginal farmers from rainfed farming areas, migrating seasonally.
Like many homeowners in the US, I have a pile of mortgage papers and the deed to our house cluttering my cabinets, and I don’t give them much thought. Likewise, renters have a lease document—usually kept in a folder somewhere—that formalizes their right to use and enjoy that dwelling.
Conservation, said Aldo Leopold, is harmony between (wo)men and land. Land should justifiably figure not only into the conservation, but also in development debates, policy and discourses. Missing land rights and land tenure security can be costly for states, communities as well as local and global development.
A revolution is underway. In Latin America, it has likely crested. In Southeast Asia and West Africa, it is moving apace. In East Africa, it is at its most intense.
It is brewing most remarkably not in storied national capitals and megacities, but in the medium sized, second-tier cities, less watched by governments and journalists. Cities that might double in size in 12-15 years, yet already under-resourced.
It is a demographic revolution: significant population growth which drives the epochal growth of city dwelling, as the world becomes ever more urban.
The National Slum Dwellers Federation of Uganda (NSDFU) is a network of approximately 350 community groups with a membership of approximately 38,000 people. NSDFU is a member of the Shack/Slum Dwellers International (SDI) network, a transnational network of the urban poor founded in 1996, and which brings together over a million federated slum dwellers in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
African cities are rapidly expanding as the number of urban residents rises due to rural-urban migration and population growth. Ad hoc urban expansion contributes to an increase in unplanned settlements, urban poverty and inequality, and constraints on new residents, who are attempting to secure access to adequate housing, property rights, employment, and basic services.