The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


Social Production of Habitat as a tool for advocacy in an African context?

Social Production of Habitat as a tool for advocacy in an African context? The case of Mashimoni, Nairobi - DPU MSc dissertation Policy Brief


4 March 2019

By Blanca Larrain

In partnership with Habitat International Coalition

Social production of habitat is a phenomenon that emerged during the 70´s in Latin America under a set of multiple experiences of communities looking to produce their own place to live. Consequently, SPH has a material transformation related to housing and/or habitat, as well as a socio-political impact because it represents a different form of appropriation of the city and the urban space. This paper analyses the experience of SPH processes in a sub-African context specifically in Mashimoni-Nairobi and reflects about its effects on new forms of substantive citizenship as well as the possible use of the SPH as a tool for advocacy in an African context.

In order to analyse the relationship between SPH and citizenship, the reflection is guided by four dimensions; (1) the everyday practices of use and appropriation of the urban space; (2) participation processes; (3) the community relationships and strategies; and (4) the identity and sense of belonging. The discussion shows that, regarding SPH in Mashimoni, there has been relevant achievements as well as fractures. It can be said that SPH can trigger deeper ways of citizenships, nonetheless, the analysis opens fundamental questions about SPH processes in relation to possible exclusions, tensions, and limitations that talks about the fragility of SPH processes and participation in general.

Finally, the paper argues that SPH can effectively be a tool for the advocacy of movements and community leaders in Africa, as a way to simplify and legitimize the processes that different communities and citizens are leading every day in the urban space.

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