|Make your work easier and more efficient installing the rrojasdatabank toolbar ( you can customize it ) in your browser.|
|World indicators on the environment||World Energy Statistics - Time Series||Economic inequality|
The urban challenge in Africa: Growth and management of its large cities
Edited by Carole Rakodi - United Nations University Press - TOKYO - NEW YORK - PARIS - © The United Nations University, 1997
An unequal society marked by reductions in people's status
In 1987, 37 per cent of Abidjan households earned 80 per cent of total income and 40 per cent of African households earned less than 7 per cent of money incomes (see also table 8.4). Upward social mobility, legitimized only through political capacity bestowed by the President (Cohen, 1974), gave the city a unique status until 1980. The "high and mighty" in the President's entourage, senior executives, and those who distinguished themselves by their professional excellence, their dominant position, and their integration in the ruling classes had for a long time conferred a privileged status on the city, the focus of investment and accumulation, before fighting each other at the regional level following decentralization (Jaglin and Dubresson, 1993). Belonging to the powers that be, achieving élite status, and becoming a member of the ruling class could then be achieved only in Abidjan, where the élite's inherited practices, style of life, knowledge, and contacts (Vidal, 1991) facilitated an "eruption of investments of distinction" (Le Pape et al., 1992, p. 8). However, the dwindling of financial resources exacerbated struggles for state funds, monopolized until then by the powerful. The opening up of a new political scene by the decentralization reforms changed the élite's renewal processes. Still, whether in Abidjan or in other urban areas, the powerful have, in the final analysis, maintained or even increased their social distance not only from the poor but also from the middle classes, who have been the main victims of social downgrading.
White-collar workers and technicians in the state sector, the parastatals, industry, and what is generally called the modern tertiary sector, as well as the upper fringe of commerce and crafts - the "middle classes" - are a non-homogeneous stratum that is difficult to quantify. In 1978, qualified wage-earners in the tertiary sector, African entrepreneurs, and "modern" businessmen accounted for 11 per cent of the total population. With all qualified wage-earners, the "middle classes" accounted for 50,600 households, or 345,000 people, i.e. 27 per cent of Abidjan's population (Manou-Savina et al., 1985). If their class characteristics (petty bourgeoisie?) may be questioned, their urban practices testify to the existence of a group that could be assimilated neither in the state bourgeoisie nor in the popular masses and whose elements endeavoured to assure, defend, or legitimize their position in the city, in particular their access to subsidized public housing. These dwellings, officially meant for economically deprived people, were taken over by the middle classes, who also benefited from the state's policy on administrative leases, land, and credit concessions.
Table 8.4 Household income distribution in Abidjan, 1963-1988 (current CFA banes except 1963)
a. African population only.
This dependent relationship, based on the transfer of capital to a minority, was destroyed by the state's financial crisis. The urban economic foundation upon which the middle classes had depended for their accumulation strategy slowly disintegrated. Social downgrading prevails as much in the subsidized public housing that is now up for sale as in the communal courtyard quarters. Obviously, not everyone has been affected in the same way. Middle or big businesses have benefited from the enlarged market created by supplying the city with food products from the whole country (Chaléard, 1994). Civil servants and technical personnel who have kept their jobs and have been able to buy state houses or gain access to urban land outside the official market keep up their building endeavours and offer for rent new types of partially or totally individualized housing (Soumahoro, 1993). Nevertheless, social decline has affected most groups at "the top of the bottom" and "the bottom of the top," as people refer to the middle class. Their conditions of life continue to be uncertain and their mutual help mechanisms, however strong they may have been (Vidal, 1992), are unable to cushion the crisis. Although some trends that existed previously have been maintained even during the recession, i.e. the increasing importance of women, a strong feeling of belonging to the city, and the maintenance of active relations between Abidjan and the rest of the world, within and outside the country (Le Pape, 1992), there is now a real crisis in the political-economic mechanism of urban integration, and pauperization affects a large number of urban dwellers (table 8.4 and Marie, 1995).
From integrated town planning to district management
The modern city project
Attempting integrated town planning (Haeringer, 1985): The "right" side of town
At the time of independence, the new government had to take up the challenge of the quantity and quality of inherited structures, which were not suited to developments that, according to its statements, were supposed to address the needs of all social strata. It then adopted a resolutely modern project with the aim of eradicating all the "slums" (illegal shanties and insalubrious courtyard houses) within 10 years and building a city for all nationals of the Côte d'Ivoire. The town planning policy thus initiated was an integral part of the development strategy, with its theme of modernization, which was systematically propagated by all government officers, the President himself advocating a bold social policy. Therefore, the liberal choice made at independence was not to be equated with laissez-faire; it was backed by voluntaristic action to control the whole city building process.
In contrast with towns ruled by local chiefs, the building of Abidjan city was driven by planning goals that had been a constant feature of all governments' urban policies since 1926, when the first town development plan was mooted. Successive plans since independence - SETAP Plan, 1960; AURA Development Plan, 1969; 1/50,000 Structural Diagram, 1967; Town Master Plan, 1972; Town Development Plans since 1976 - have permitted control over the distribution of main activities along the industrial-harbour axis; assisted the provision of infrastructure, in particular a noteworthy inter-urban road network; and defined those housing developments initiated by the state.
Indeed, government ensured total control over land (Ley, 1972) by appropriating all so-called vacant land, a process fraught with problems owing to customary land rights which had to be cancelled after violent clashes with the Ebrie people, who finally obtained compensation in cash and plots for the land they had lost (Yapi Diahou, 1981). This state land was then subdivided into plots, developed for building, and transferred either through grants or as private property, depending on the wishes and means of the recipients.
The state made property rights dependent on proper standards of development so as to control, at least in theory, where and how the city would expand and also to have an impressive means of promoting so-called "modern" housing at its disposal. Modernization could be understood only with reference to a scale of values: at the bottom were those houses surrounding a courtyard, where several households shared a plot, a bathroom, and a kitchen; at the top were spacious houses with gardens, tokens of social success. State intervention came in between. The public sector was to build suitably serviced government houses as a first step towards modernization, as well as a way to ensure social stability by redistributing, through this subsidized housing, some of the fruit of the country's growth.
Between 1960 and 1975, the government set up an impressive machine that benefited Abidjan first and foremost: a subsidized public housing building mechanism, by means of a state company (Société de gestion et de financement de l'habitat - SOGEFIHA, 1963) and a parastatal company (Société ivoirienne de construction et de gestion immobilière - SICOGI, 1959); a financing mechanism, first with the Office de soutien à l'habitat économique (OSHE, 1968), a state department under the Ministry of Finance to manage budget allocations, then with the Banque rationale d'épargne et de crédit (BNEC), a state company created in 1975 and which merged with the OSHE in 1977, responsible for the management of a Housing Fund; and an urban development mechanism - the Société d'équipement des terrains urbains (SETU), which is a state company responsible for the provision of roads and other infrastructure to land allocated for low-cost housing projects (table 8.5).
At the same time, existing districts with state housing estates built before independence or with unbuilt areas were renovated. Land was gradually divided into plots with roads and sometimes other infrastructure, or re-structured by brutally removing squatters and destroying their shacks. Basic housing estates on the outskirts of the city were built in compensation and to alleviate the conflicts that followed the bulldozing of some 20 per cent of existing houses between 1969 and 1973. The basic and supposedly provisional and temporary nature of these areas showed that in Abidjan, in contrast to other towns, they were not meant to ensure modernization, which, until 1971, was to be based on subsidized public housing.
Considerable efforts were made. In 1963, housing societies controlled some 6,000 housing units, in which 10 per cent of households lived. In 1971, government housing accounted for some 12,000 units, housing 20 per cent of the population; between 1971 and 1977, 5,000 housing units were built per year and by 1979, when the recession started, more than 22 per cent of urban dwellers lived in subsidized public housing. Budget allocations were witness to this state commitment: from 1973 to 1977, 46 per cent of investment in the building of housing went to state housing, and 60 per cent of the cost of low-cost housing was subsidized. However, the creation of SETU at the beginning of the 1970s indicated that ready-made housing was no longer seen as the only solution. By then, an intensive land policy aimed at making building land available complemented the house-building programme: from 1974 to 1981, the SETU developed 1,545 ha and 11,000 building plots.
Table 8.5 Occupancy by type of housing in Abidjan, 1963-1988
Despite these vast programmes, which gave the city a structure and features unique in West Africa (apart from new cities such as Yamoussoukro and Abuja), by 1985 this public sector urban model could house only one-fifth of the city's inhabitants and in 1988 58.4 per cent of Abidjan residents still lived around communal courtyards, legally or otherwise. Spatial growth was indeed brought under control and illegal housing, permanent or temporary, occupied only 932 ha, compared with 6,600 ha of legal housing, in 1984, i.e. 12 per cent of the built-up residential area (23 per cent in 1963). In 1988, so-called modern housing (private houses and blocks of flats) occupied 47 per cent of residential land. However, access of the masses to modern housing was still a problem and not only because of the discrepancy between state funds for housing and the massive influx of migrants.
A city of tenants living around courtyards: The reverse of the modern model
By facilitating middle-class access to modern housing and urban land, by enabling them to get rich from rents, legally or illegally, the state redistribution practices led to a diversion of social housing. A detailed analysis of its distribution made during the first 10 years after independence shows how the ruling classes acquired a new urban political base by making the middle classes their clients, and how the adoption of sophisticated and costly building standards contributed to the exclusion of self-employed workers, craftsmen, and small traders, so that the official model could meet the demands of only a privileged few.
A city of tenants, with only 15 per cent of household heads owning their accommodation in 1985 and 19 per cent in 1988, Abidjan has remained a city of courtyards. This type of housing results from three forms of land acquisition: a legal one by the purchase of a plot from the authorities, and two illegal ones - buying a plot in an estate developed by a customary landowner or settling on insalubrious non di'Qcandi land or vacant land reserved for other uses in the urban plan. Legal courtyard dwellings were set up by the authorities prior to independence. Some are parts of reception areas created after 1960 and others belong to old unsubdivided or illegally subdivided districts that were later redeveloped. Legally or illegally, land is often rapidly occupied and dwellings are constructed with minimum investment - simple dirt tracks and basic plot demarcation without any services, giving rise to discontinuities in the urban fabric.
A courtyard is a differentiated space with a built-up part, using permanent materials or wood, comprising living quarters and outbuildings (bathroom, kitchen), and an open part, the actual courtyard, usually in the middle of the plot. Each house is composed of adjacent rooms of approximately 10 m² each living unit comprising one room (bed-sitter), two rooms (bedroom and sitting room), or, most rarely, three rooms. Kitchens are small cubbyholes, while bathrooms are used collectively by all residents. Some plots include craft workshops or small tracers' strops and the open courtyard serves as a meeting place, a playground for children, and a space for domestic chores. Built without state help, mainly for rent, most of the courtyards accommodate several families and various ethnic groups, enabling the mixing of the city's population and cultures. They are structured on the basis of a rental strategy.
Most of the courtyard buildings, whether legal or illegal, are permanent structures (40 per cent of the residential area in 1988). Most are built of cement breeze-blocks with corrugated iron roofs, though scarcely ever by the occupier and his family. The owner is not the builder either; building is usually entrusted to pieceworkers, artisans who negotiate their conditions of work and their payment with the plot owner. Big businessmen, many civil servants, and other private landlords are able to ensure a fast and continuous building process, with highly variable completion periods. In the illegal areas that have not yet been divided into plots, and where some isolated permanent or "banco" (clay) structures can be spotted, most of the dwellings are built of wood, with roofs of salvaged corrugated iron, plant material, plastic sheeting, or cardboard. During the 1980s, craftsmen started producing prefabricated panels ("cut and nail") for rapid assembly. These so-called "spontaneous" dwellings, inherently temporary and illegal, housed 14 per cent of the total population in 1963, 21 per cent in 1973, and 14 per cent in 1988. They were restricted and even partly destroyed, but their area increased between 1984 and 1987, from 750 to 1,053 ha (+41 per cent), and in 1990 the AUA counted 68 such areas in all the city's districts, except the Plateau (Yapi Diahou, 1994; see fig. 8.3).
The concept of building, of permanent or wooden structures, goes hand in hand with letting, so that owners try to build as much as possible to increase their rental income. Buildings therefore progress horizontally, plots becoming ever more densely occupied and some courtyards reduced to a corridor, then vertically, an additional floor being added on one side, while the courtyard is maintained. High-density housing and high-density population are interlinked and gross density in some central districts reaches as much as 500 inh/ha, with maximums of 700 in non-subdivided areas. Overcrowding and lack of privacy are the main features of the courtyard dwellings, as well as a general lack of services. Some old central areas have a few streets, some of them surfaced, a partial drainage system with open gutters, as well as water and electricity in most streets. The plot may be connected to services without the dwellings being directly connected: often a tap in the courtyard is used by all the tenants. Alternatively, in the absence of a distribution network, water has to be bought from official or unofficial sources. Areas subdivided into plots during the 1960s have no sewerage system and suffer from severely deficient infrastructure: 1 shower for 20 residents in Abobo-gare, 1 toilet for 20 residents in Attécoubé in 1985 (Antoine et al., 1987). In most cases, sewerage is individual: cesspools or septic tanks, which are emptied more or less regularly. This increases the risk of epidemics in these temporary dwellings, which are ignored by public services and where infant and child mortality rates are sometimes higher than in the rural areas.
Whether legal or illegal, courtyard dwellings do not satisfy modern standards as defined by the authorities, even if permanent concrete block buildings provide a measure of modernization and actual slums house only 14 per cent of the population. But the replacement of courtyard housing with well-serviced individual houses, which should have been the second step on the way to modernization, never happened, though some new forms of courtyard dwellings have appeared, with adjacent individualized dwellings (Soumahoro, 1993).
The problem of maintaining the courtyards is all the more crucial because changes in urban policies, with the state abandoning house-building in favour of improving services and management, have placed courtyards at the heart of recent projects supported by the World Bank since 1981.
Changes in the 1980s: Time for "urban management"
Since the beginning of the 1980s, the dramatic drying up of state funds has generated a change in urban planning. As early as 19751979, warning signs of today's problems led to the gradual end of social housing programmes. The principle of free housing for some civil servants was reconsidered, while the closing down of state companies, the review of higher civil servants' salaries, and the higher cost of credit aggravated the impact of recession. Many more social categories are therefore affected by problems of housing (including land tenure, housing proper, and services) and modernization, with the lower middle class relegated to the level of the excluded masses. The state, while addressing the exclusion of the most downtrodden, must also consider the problems faced by its clients, former beneficiaries of modernist policies. The changes in its urbanization policy therefore also derive from internal pressures, which may endanger in the long term the stability of a regime anxious to preserve its alliance with the urban middle classes who have been affected by the crisis.
However, it would be wrong to attribute policy changes to recession only. Some actions were taken before state funds started dwindling, in particular the administrative reform that gave new power to local authorities as the main managers of the cities. The law on district (commune) administration, passed in 1980, was first conceived at the end of the 1970s, when coffee and cocoa revenues were still high. Contrary to most decentralization processes in Africa, which appear to have followed the economic crisis, Côte d'Ivoire's reforms came earlier. As a local reaction to internal tensions, decentralization created opportunities for popular politics (Labazée, 1993), and offered positions to senior civil servants who could no longer be accommodated in the overstaffed central administration. In the same way as other democratization measures, decentralization seems to have proceeded from a renewal of the apparatus for socio-political regulation.
Changes also resulted from external pressure, such as World Bank recommendations in the field of urban development, within the general framework of structural adjustment policies that were adopted by the bankrupt state to solicit financial assistance. The World Bank, which appeared on the Côte d'Ivoire scene in 1974, has repeatedly criticized the government housing and subdivision policies, in particular the high standards for services and their impact on costs, as well as the terms and conditions of allocating and financing plots and houses, which had already been argued against by the French aid agency in order to justify withdrawing funds for low-cost housing. The various city development plans, which have increased functional and social segregation, are considered to have worsened transport problems and deepened the inequalities between central and peripheral areas, while grandiose prestige projects are also denounced. The World Bank's "recommendations" are based on the following principles: enabling low-income population groups to gain access to ownership; easing building standards and improving the land tenure system; co-opting private enterprises by entrusting them with house-building ending the demolition of existing private dwellings; engaging non-citizens in housing projects; obtaining payment from the beneficiaries through proper pricing policies and using the resources available from local taxes; and, finally, prioritizing needs, starting by providing sanitation and a clean water supply in the most deprived districts.
Following protracted and difficult negotiations, the World Bank finally managed to impose its views. The mainstays of state intervention - BNEC, BCET, SOGEFIHA, and SETU - have disappeared; state housing has been sold and the government is putting pressure on the SICOGI for it to adopt a similar privatization policy. Great efforts are being made to facilitate the access of tenants to ownership. Flats and houses belonging to the SOGEFIHA, which was wound up in 1986, were sold either by SOGEFIHA-liquidation (in the case of houses bought on instalments) or by the Direction des ventes immobilières (DVI) of the DCGTx (for individual rented dwellings) at prices discounted by 48 per cent compared with market prices. Those who were renting or buying on instalments and who could pay cash when the sale offer was made got an additional 25 per cent discount; those who undertook to pay within two years obtained a 10-15 per cent rebate. The SICOGI offered its tenants an average reduction of 44 per cent on market prices and set up a case-by-case system of instalment purchase, sometimes over more than 10 years, based on amounts negotiated so that buyers would not need bank loans, on which interest rates are very high.
This process benefited higher-income tenants who had been clients of the former system and lived in, or more often sublet, rented houses: by increasing their real property they have consolidated their social status. In contrast, low wage-earners found it more difficult to respond and most of them today are among the 25 or 30 per cent of people who have "reserved" housing but who cannot pay, or have difficulty in paying, their instalments. The situation is even worse for those tenants whose salaries have been cut or who have lost their jobs because of the crisis. The former cannot purchase their dwellings and often offer them for sale, before expulsion orders arrive, to wealthier people who may have been former absentee tenants building up their real estate property thanks to privatization. This kind of parallel so-called "amicable" settlement goes against the official social nature of the sales operations, but it benefits all concerned, as was indicated in the country's main daily newspaper:
The unemployed are in a very difficult position and, although some have formed associations that enjoy special treatment (easy long-term payment conditions based on their unemployment benefits), most of them did not manage to keep their accommodation after unemployment benefits were cut from 75,000 to 50,000 CFA francs in 1992. Generally, only those whose payments were not up to date at the time of the sales offer have been officially evicted, while the SOGEFIHA-liquidation as well as the DVI have been rather flexible, in particular with subtenants and illegal tenants, to whom they sometimes offered accommodation. However, a measure of social discrimination actually favoured the best-off categories.
Development of building land has been entrusted to the DCGTx, a strong agency created in 1978 and attached to the President's Office in 1981, and the main instrument for the implementation of government policies. The Atelier d'urbanisme d'Abidjan (AUA) was integrated with it in 1985 and since 1987 the DVI has functioned as an implementing agency, distributing plots in accordance with the Third Urban Development Project (UDP3). Finally, the World Bank has become the state's main partner. It financed 41.4 per cent of UDP3 (1987-1992), while USAID financed 2.8 per cent, the state 20.5 per cent, the beneficiaries 34.8 per cent, and private international players 0.5 per cent. Urban management has replaced house construction and even public investment in the dominant discourse as well as in practice.
What does "governance" mean?
Stratification of powers: How the city was thrown out of the game
Abidjan comes under the jurisdiction of three types of actor: the state and its public service agencies; the "city of Abidjan," an intermediate body above the districts; and the 10 district (commune) authorities created in 1978 (fig. 8.3). Good governance, the international donors' latest creed for improving urban productivity and thus ensuring the city's efficiency (Venard, 1993), entails a search for complementarities between actors, their scope for action, and their fields of jurisdiction. However, the state and its centralized public service agencies have retained their main powers, while the city's power has been reduced to what the district authorities are willing to tolerate (Attahi, 1989, 1991). The City Council comprises the mayor, elected from amongst the mayors of the 10 districts, these 10 mayors, and SO councillors (5 per district) elected by the district councils from amongst their members. Understandably, local representatives are fiercely protective of the powers of their districts, which they want to shield from possible interference by the city, whose jurisdiction is indeed not very important in terms of existing regulations. Actually, apart from refuse collection and street lighting, practically no basic services (water, power, sanitation, transport) are the city's responsibility and it is unable to coordinate sectoral actions by government ministries and concessionary agencies. Thus, most important services are still managed by central agencies, while districts try to promote local development by levying taxes as authorized by the legislation on decentralization.
New approaches to land management to recover costs
As a first component of the UDP3 on housing, 750 ha were to be developed with 18,500 plots for a unit cost of 640,000 CFA francs (1986), i.e. 16 per cent of the estimated demand for 1987-1992. Four types of plots were to be developed: those with basic sanitation (250 m² clean water from a supply point, no electricity) for households with incomes of less than 70,000 CFA francs; plots for households with incomes of 70,000-100,000 CFA francs (as above, plus electricity); plots for households with incomes of 100,000-180,000 CFA francs (300 m² lined stormwater drains, underground links to the water and electricity network); and plots for households with incomes of more than 180,()00 CFA francs (450 and 600 m² plots, surfaced streets, sewage disposal). The two districts where these developments were to take place were Abobo and Cocody, thus confirming the long-planned social stratification of Abidjan. Applicants were selected according to their means, while an internal balancing mechanism was intended to ensure that those who bought high-quality plots partly financed the poorly serviced plots for the low-income groups. As far as building is concerned, the better-off buyers were to obtain credit from formal sector housing finance institutions (CAA/CDMH), while the others were permitted to build their own dwellings. By 1992, low-income plots had not yet been developed and, in the final analysis, these "ready to occupy" plot operations have once more benefited the middle classes (Yapi Diahou, 1994), the Norwegian-Ivoirian privately owned joint venture company, semi-private companies (SICOGI, GFCI), as well as the savings associations and small owners who control more than 10,000 new dwellings. Private players have indeed replaced the state, but the clients are the same - low-income population groups are still excluded from the modernization process.
The renovation of courtyard districts: Profiting the owners
Renovation - advocated by the World Bank but argued against by the country's rulers, who refused the proposed lowering of standards for a long time, and resisted by many small private owners worried about their rental income - started only in 1981, although the idea had already been included in the first UDP adopted in 1976. Full servicing of existing districts (with clean water, electricity, sanitation), new road networks, collective services, and land regularization affected only the legally recognized districts, whereas temporary settlements were left out. In Abobo, Adjamé-Fraternité, Bromakoté, and Port-Bouët II, the first developments financed with World Bank assistance (60 per cent of primary networks) and USAID help (30 per cent of secondary networks) have clearly improved the level of services but the networks thus set up are often underutilized, because many owners are discouraged by the technical option (individual connections) and its cost. Further, most of the residents were tenants, who had to suffer rent increases as owners passed on the cost of connections and operations once the plots were linked to the networks. Thus many tenants were forced to leave, but absentee landlords came to settle, taking advantage of land regularization which gave them permanent tenure. At the end of the day, the main beneficiaries of this renovation were the owners, a minority who mostly collect rents (Manou-Savina, 1986).