Past Event

Top down or bottom up? Urban development in Africa and China

25 February 2021 12:00–13:30

As African countries experience rapid urbanisation, there is a need to ensure that this process is well managed, and underpinned by strong public policy and social governance, to support economic development and social welfare. China has much to share from its experience of rapid urbanisation and putting in place structures to support population health and welfare. This webinar explores the bottom-up and top-down participation approaches to urban sustainable development in Africa and China.

Speakers and topics

A bottom up approach to changing top down approaches; the work of the many African Slum/Shack Dwellers Federations

David Satterthwaite is a senior fellow at IIED and visiting professor at the Development Planning Unit, University College London. He co-authored with Diana Mitlin two recent books on Urban Poverty in the Global South; Scale and Nature (2012) and Reducing Urban Poverty in the Global South (2013). He was a co-ordinating lead author of the chapter on urban adaptation in the Fifth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and was part of the IPCC team honoured with the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007. He is also editor of the journal Environment & Urbanization.

The urban land nexus through the lenses of citizens’ engagement; urban informality; and technology and innovation

Eric Kasper is an IDS research fellow whose research brings together participatory social network analysis, systemic action research, complex adaptive systems, and community organising practice to explore the ways relational structures and social dynamics of people living in urban poverty impact their ability to act collectively as agents of change.

Imogen Bellwood-Howard is an IDS Research Fellow who has worked extensively in West African urban and rural agricultural settings. Her current research interests include sustainable and low-input agricultural practices, city region food systems and rural-urban linkages, informal urban and rural food markets, and the application of circular economy ideas to food systems.

Urbanisation and development in Kenya

Dainah Kinya is undertaking a PhD at Nairobi University and is a tutorial fellow at the Spatial Planning & Urban Management Department of Kenyatta University, Nairobi.


Jing Gu, IDS Senior Research Fellow and Director of the Centre for Rising Powers, is an expert in international development cooperation, particularly China.


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