Mapping the matatus of Nairobi

Cities: matatu 2, routesAn interesting project… Download maps generated by the ‘digital matatu’ team – a joint venture between Columbia and Nairobi University, Groupshot and MIT – and published in The Guardian article, Cities in motion: how we mapped the matatus of Nairobi (February 19, 2014).

Matatus are the informal minibus transport system that keeps Nairobi running, similarly to Luanda’s candongueiros.


Map created by Jon Schubert (2011).




DW visits the Medellín Participatory Inclusive Land Readjustment

DW’s director Allan Cain visited the PILaR Candelbra Project in Medellín, Columbia with a team from UN-HABITAT in April 2014. The pilot is a joint initiative of Medellin’s Institute of Housing and Habitat (ISVIMED), Medellin’s Department of Planning and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat). At a global level, the Project is developing a methodology to help apply participatory and inclusive land readjustment in low or middle income countries.

Watch a video tour of the the PILaR Candelbra Project and video of a workshop on participatory and inclusive land readjustment in Medellín led by Robert Lewis-Lettington on DW’s website here.

Cacuaco celebrates 74 years


Photo courtesy of the Cacuaco Forum Blog.

This month, Cacuaco municipality in Angola celebrates 74 years. In 2013, festivities honored the first chief of Cacuaco, who defended the interests of the land. This year, the regions rare, endangered pelicans are the focus of celebrations.

From DW’s Cacuaco Forum Blog: “The birds live in the saline zone, but are slowly disappearing because of disordered structures that threaten their habitat. Cacuaco Management, with the help of the Ministry of Environment, held an exhibition about the species to sensitize communities to the problem. Visitors watched the pelicans with binoculars. Civil society was also invited to participate in the festivities.” Read more from the Blog here.

Angola’s General Population and Housing Census

Photo courtesy BBC,

Angola’s General Population and Housing Census, the first for 40 years, began on May 16, 2014 and was completed on May 30, 2014. The previous census in Angola had been carried out in 1973, during the colonial period. Angola’s Instituto Nacional de Estatística de Angola (INE) temporarily employed over 65,000 people to administer the questionnaires. The provisional results of the Census are expected to be published three months after the end of the process. Click here to download a copy of the Census.

Hard life in the ‘mouth of the River’


Photo courtesy of the Cacuaco Forum Blog

Residents of the town of Cacuaco, Angola need water, hospitals, electricity, public transport, recreational areas for children and police patrols in order to meet the needs of the population explosion in the area. The town, located 10 km from the outskirts of Luanda, was originally inhabited mostly by fishermen, and then became the home to displaced migrants during the war. More recently Cacuaco is filling the need of people hoping to realize their dream of home ownership. Read the full story in DW’s Cacuaco Forum blog here.


African urban fantasies: past lessons and emerging realities

Now on our website, read DW director Allan Cain’s paper titled “African urban fantasies: past lessons and emerging realities”, published in Environment & Urbanization, the journal of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), April 2014. Click here to read the article.

The paper responds to Vanessa Watson’s article on the inappropriate urban development plans that are increasingly common in sub-Saharan Africa as governments seek to make their cities “world class”. It describes how the government of Angola has been able to use financing from Chinese credit facilities to build prestige projects that include support for the public-privately developed Kilamba city with 20,000 apartments. In the paper, Allan Cain argues that an opportunity is being missed to use today’s income from high-priced natural resources and the current easy access to Chinese credit lines and technical expertise to address the very large backlogs in urban upgrading of basic service infrastructure and housing for the poor. The paper also reflects on a previous post-independence period when a number of African new cities were built, leaving some countries with decades of debt and stagnant development. Can errors from the past offer lessons for future African urban development?

Angola Housing Finance Chapter in the 2013 Africa Housing Finance Yearbook

Development Workshop prepared the Angola Housing Finance Chapter for the 2013 Africa Housing Finance Yearbook, recently published by the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa. This is the fourth edition of the Housing Finance in Africa Yearbook and reflects the mood and temperature of housing finance markets on the African continent in 2013. The Angola chapter provides an Overview and Key Figures plus sections on: Access to Finance, Housing Supply, Affordability, Property Markets, Policy and Regulation and Opportunities.

Click on image to download.

Click to download.

“… For most Angolans, auto-construção or self-build is the predominant method of housing development. The concept of owner-managed building, a process that combines local tradespeople and family labour, is fundamental to the traditional way of building houses in Angola. There have been positive developments aimed at harnessing this self-build energy to create better settlements and prevent the development of slums…”

Nelson Mandela memoriam by DW director Allan Cain

At about midnight on Thursday, the 5th of December DW’s director Allan Cain was en route to Johannesburg when Nelson Mandela’s death was announced on the airport display screens. The following is Allan’s reflection on Mandela’s passing.

I remember the first and only time I saw Nelson Mandela in May 1990. Shortly after being released from prison, he chose to come to Angola as his first trip abroad. Julia and I and our two children Mathieu and Rebecca walked from home, the short distance to Largo 1 de Maio where he as speaking. I told my 9 year old son that this was a historic event that I hoped he would remember. Mandela thanked Angola for the sacrifices that the country made for supporting the ANC’s liberation movement in their fight against the apartheid regime.

Mandela in 1990

Angola suffered greatly since its independence for supporting both the South African and Namibian liberation movements. The South African regime contributed to Angola’s destabilization by fuelling the civil war and occupying large areas in the south for several years. Angola provided a safe haven for both Namibian and South African refugees and also had to accommodate many of their own internally displaced persons fleeing the conflict.

Throughout the 1980’s Development Workshop provided support for Southern African refugees and worked with both the ANC and SWAPO on building schools and vocational training centres in several Angolan provinces. DW at the same time became increasingly engaged in programs for Angolans fleeing the war-affected provinces and settling in the cities.

Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s conciliator and managed to build the basis of a multi-racial “rainbow nation”. In the later years of his presidency 1995-2000, he was called upon as Nobel Peace laureate to assist in mediation of other African conflicts. He promoted peacebuilding in Burundi and DR Congo and in January 1997 met the UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi to try to encourage him (unsuccessfully) to join the Angolan Government of National Reconciliation.

Mandela and Savimbi in 1997

The following year President Mandela made his first official “State Visit” to Angola in April 1998 to meet President dos Santos to rebuild the relationship with the Angolan Government and to recognize once more the contribution Angola had made to South Africa over the years of conflict.

Mandela and Dos Santos in 1998

In the late 1990’s Development Workshop engaged in a program of conflict mitigation and mediation. In December 1998, at a time when the ceasefire broke down and Angola returned to armed conflict, DW launched the Angola Peacebuilding Program in partnership with the principal church and civil society institutions. A national peace movement evolved during those years that eventually laid an important platform for post-2002 national reconciliation and sustained peace.

DW is a member of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) and the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD) who’s Board of Trustees is chaired by Nelson Mandela’s wife Madame Graca Machel. Development Workshop remains committed to those principles of social justice and conflict resolution in our work on land rights, poverty reduction and support for national programs such as “Water for All”.

Related links:

“The Mandela Visit; Mandela Assails U.S. Aid to Savimbi” – New York Times 1990/06/25, click here.

“Mandela meets with Angolan Rebel Leader Savimbi in peace effort” – AP News 1997/01/07, click here.

“Mandela praises improved ties with Angola” – BBC News 1998/04/30, click here.

DW at the 2013 African Union for Housing Finance

Allan Cain and Professor Liu Haifang of the Centre for African Studies at Peking University and DW’s Director presented on China Urban Investment to Africa during a panel session at the 2013 African Union for Housing Finance (AUHF) conference in Mauritius, September 11 to 13, 2013. The panel on “Understanding (and harnessing) Chinese investment interest” was co-hosted by DW and the Centre for African Studies at Peking University. See the powerpoint on the DW website here.

Liu Haifang
Liu Haifang

Allan Cain also presented a paper on DW’s work at the PILaR Book Project Workshop at Istanbul Technical University which ran from October 22 to 23, 2013 in Istanbul, Turkey. See his powerpoint on “Participatory & Inclusive Community Land Sharing: The Case of Huambo, Angola”, on the DW website here.

Allan Cain
Allan Cain