Towards citywide participatory planning: emerging community-led practices in three African cities.

Philipp Horn, Diana Mitlin, Jhono Bennett, Beth Chitekwe-Biti, Jack Makau


In this working paper we seek to contribute to debates about the scaling up of citizen participation in towns and cities of the Global South through a focus on participatory planning. Our contribution is three-fold. First, we discuss existing experiences of integrating participation into citywide planning and urban governance processes, highlighting that such efforts often do not adequately consider the views of low-income communities, and restrict participation to the level of the neighbourhood. Second, drawing on these experiences, we outline what we mean, theoretically and practically, by scaling up participation and summarise the ways and extent to which the scaling up of participation has occurred as discussed in the literature, and the factors that emerge as significant to its progress. We consider government, academic and civil society-led efforts. Third, we identify factors perceived to be significant challenges and potential opportunities to scaling processes, focusing specifically on experiences in three African cities: Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), Johannesburg (South Africa) and Nairobi (Kenya). In the concluding section we summarise the implications for the next stage of an action research programme to advance our understanding of how to achieve citywide participatory planning.


Participatory planning, scaling, community-led practices, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Bulawayo, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya

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