The Urban Land Nexus and Inclusive Urbanization in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza and Khartoum

This action-oriented research project will use the urban land nexus and its politics to provide the entry point for analysing the cities of Khartoum, Dar es Salaam and Mwanza and as integrated city systems. The overarching objective is to identify, research, and stimulate policy debate on actionable changes that are politically feasible and scalable within existing urban systems, and will foster more inclusive and welfare-enhancing urban transitions.

The political economy of the urban land nexus, and the movement of people in, out and around this nexus, are central to the inclusion or exclusion of urban systems. Particular attention will be paid to the gender, class and migratory dimensions of the urban land nexus and how these play out over the formal-informal continua, through various forms and levels of governance, and in relation to the provision of infrastructure and the operation of markets.

Working with leading urban research institutions, and local government and civil society partners, we will seek out changes that, either driven from the bottom-up or implemented through the more formal urban governance systems, can lead to tangible improvements for growing urban populations. In the first instance, we will be seeking out changes in access to basic services (e.g. water and sanitation), goods (e.g. healthy food) and/or livelihoods (e.g. opportunities for formal or informal employment), all of which have important but different locational and other land-based dimensions. Key local stakeholders will be involved in identifying issues of concern and options for addressing them, including utilities, various government authorities and private actors. With the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) and various other networks, we will engage locally, and disseminate the results internationally, focussing particularly on other cities of East Africa.

The broad interlinked research questions are:

  • Where, how and through what formal and informal processes are the growing number of urban residents, and the infrastructures, ecosystem services and markets they depend on, being accommodated in the urban land nexus?
  • How does the sorting of different people and groups across the urban land nexus relate to access to livelihoods (formal and informal), basic services (e.g. water and sanitation) and goods (e.g. healthy food)?
  • What politically feasible shifts in urban land nexus governance could make the urban transition more inclusive (e.g. through increased community mobilization or improvements in market systems) with respect to different economic classes, and also across other axes of vulnerability (e.g. migratory status and gender)?

These questions will be asked for each city, and comparisons will be made between Dar es Salaam and Mwanza (representing two differently sized cities in the same country), and between Dar es Salaam and Khartoum (representing two similarly sized cities in countries undergoing very different urban transitions). Methods will range from using geographical mapping and information systems to explore and display the urban system at the city scale, to undertaking case studies of specific places and issues critical to the outcomes for disadvantaged groups. The findings and their implications for action will be interpreted through the lens of cities as systems, with political economies of consequence.


Image of Eric Kasper
Eric Kasper

Research Fellow

Image of Gordon McGranahan
Gordon McGranahan

Research Fellow

Image of Jas Vaghadia
Jas Vaghadia

Senior Project Support Officer

Image of Poppy Bardwell
Poppy Bardwell

Senior Project Support Officer

Image of Sadaf Khan
Sadaf Khan

Post Doctoral Researcher